Dear Hollywood Reporter, The Demise Of The Typical Movie Star Is An Awesome Reality
Bye Jennifer Lawrence! Hello Letitia Wright!
Okay — that’s mean. But here’s the thing — I’m in the mood to address an article in The Hollywood Reporter — written by film critic Steve Galloway — titled: If Jennifer Lawrence Can’t Open a Movie, Who Can?
Galloway is evidently trying to bemoan the notion that the days of A-listers being able to dominate the box office with the authority that befits their station may be tragically coming to an end — and this realization is disastrous and too heartbreaking to fathom.
He draws from Lawrence’s recent outings and how the unremarkable response to Passengers, Mother! and more recently — Red Sparrow — is proof of clear and present danger when it comes to the once prized status of a career — that benefited from the ingenue phase — a rite of passage that every young White actress gets to experience with automatic admission.
Like her bestie— fellow A-lister — Emma Stone who began her ascent to movie stardom with launching pads like Easy A (2010) and awards-darling The Help (2011) — Lawerence was also primed with opportunities to establish her immense worth to studio execs — by exhibiting her acting chops in earlier fare like Winter’s Bone (2010) and the global phenom franchise — The Hunger Games (2012).
Lawrence came into her own when she wowed critics with her performance in Silver Linings Playbook (2012) where she played a troubled young widow with depression — and ended up winning a Best Actress Oscar in 2013.
Aside from her adherence to solid franchises and complexly tortured characters (Joy and Serena) — Lawrence hasn’t really exhibited the level of talent that would guarantee her ability to maintain the momentum that is rapidly decreasing.
Galloway seems to be experiencing the pangs of disbelief at the imminent demise of a typical movie star who was handed the world on a gold platter — but is somehow ill-equipped to hold up her end of the bargain.
“I thought Lawrence was the real thing, until her box office began to show signs of continental drift. The news that she’s had her third flop in a row with Red Sparrow (following Passengers and mother!) was especially disheartening for admirers like myself.”
Look — I get it — if you’re a fan of Hollywood’s golden girl and then suddenly realize that her star might be prematurely fading — you will feel a sense of concern and confusion — especially when you’re job is immersed in actually caring about these types of things.
But then Galloway takes it too far with this bold declaration:
“There’s a chunk of Hollywood that might gloat at this bad news. But most of us should be concerned. If a star as bright and brilliant as Lawrence can’t sell tickets, who can?”
In all honesty — if over-paid and over-indulged movie stars like Jennifer Lawrence are having a challenging time at the box office — then that might actually be an awesome reality.
No offense — but Lawrence is an okay actress who sports a viable template that was bound to gain her entry into the exclusive club of being one of the top actresses in the world — without a lot of effort on her part. Also — going to the movies is expensive as fuck — and nobody wants to dish out a ton of dough to watch a blonde bombshell play a Russian spy with a distractingly bad accent.
It may have been easier back in the eighties and nineties to pollute the theaters with generic offerings that feature White leads that look scrumptious enough to eat — but thankfully those days are long gone.
The standard default is evolving into something that is a lot more inclusive and relatable to audiences who have been shelling out dollars to watch A-listers on the big screen who don’t resemble them.
The roaring success of the Fast and Furious franchise has been attributed to its diverse cast and of course the movie of the year — Black Panther — that showcases an all-Black cast — is currently smashing box office records both at home and abroad.
Only time will tell if the impeccable success of Black Panther and others like it — will translate in ways that will benefit talents of color in their pursuit of super stardom. Will major studios finally flex their stringent blueprint of only investing in “Jennifer Lawrence prototypes” — or will they consider the acting prowess and bankability of young Black actresses like Letitia Wright?
Either way — the system as it stands isn’t working too well.
It’s an absolute travesty that Lawerence gets to command $20 million for starring in a forgettable and uninspiring sci-fi flick — just because of her winning personality and bright blue eyes. Yes — she hit the lottery with The Hunger Games and X-Men — and since those films made a ton of money — the assumption is that she’s the ONE to always have on standby.
But — again — Lawrence is lucky to be born in a package that still dethrones any actress of color who is not only more beautiful — but way more talented.
As a Black woman with dark skin — who briefly considered being an actress back in the day — the one thing that prevented me from making that dream a reality was the fear that I wouldn’t be taken seriously. The industry dictated the requirements for non-White women and there was no way to avoid the fact that you had to be as close to the White aesthetic as possible if you wanted to make it.
This meant that actresses like Paula Patton who has to be one of the most talentless ones in the pool of biracial or ambiguous fare — would have an easier time getting cast in sought-after roles opposite leading men — before a Black actress who looks “Black” can even get the chance to finish reading the script.
When Galloway poses the question: If a star as bright and brilliant as Lawrence can’t sell tickets, who can?”
The answer lies in the climate of change that has been a long time coming. The real world doesn’t just comprise of White women and the men who either love them or hate them or both. The formula of the action star who is always paired with a damsel in distress who is able to whip her hair around to entice him into a trap is also becoming extinct.
If Jennifer Lawrence is unable to get enough seats filled in theaters to keep her over-hyped status activated — then that is a strong indication that moviegoers are becoming immune to the stagnant formula — that has been keeping her White counterparts richer and more powerful than necessary.
It’s time for producers to update their rolodex and take a cue from the numbers that don’t lie. Audiences want to be entertained and as the statistics keep proving — it’s no longer feasible to lazily make White people happy and pretend they’re the only ones that matter when it comes to projects that get the green light.
The “death of stars altogether” doesn’t have to be a “death” but rather the birth of a new crop of heavyweights — who have waited long enough to demonstrate why “A-listers” like Lawrence make it that much harder for them to shine in an industry — that is still reluctant to embrace their presence without bias.
Movie critics like Galloway are allowed to express their anxiety over the brutal awakening that presents a world that isn’t familiar or welcoming. And I have the right to celebrate the notion that the very thing they fear is exactly what needs to occur — in order to balance out the infamy of over-exposure that has been disproportionately allocated to White people in Hollywood — for decades.
There are tons of “bright and brilliant” Black actresses who are waiting to be discovered and utilized accordingly and with the dimming of Lawerence’s trajectory — they just might have the chance to kill the “typical movie star” and re-invent that definition to match more sophisticated palettes.
And apparently enough of us are hungry for it. And that’s fantastic!