Refusal to Suspend Disbelief

8th December 2006

Cameron Diaz gets Jude Law and Kate Winslet gets… Jack Black? Seriously, Hollywood? I understand that he’s supposed to be impishly charming, and winning, and etcetera, but Kate Winslet is lit from the inside. It seems to me that for a woman to play opposite a guy as good looking as Kate Winslet, they’d tell her to lose a hundred and fifty pounds and consider plastic surgery. (See Jude Law and Cameron Diaz.)


Update: I had a conversation with Bryan about this, and it made me realize (as did many of you) that I’d be about 100 times more likely to have a real-life crush on Jack Black than Jude Law. My issue isn’t that Jack Black isn’t a cutie pie, just that I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie where the girl wins a stunning guy on the basis of her awesomeness. In the few examples I can think of, the guy overcoming a woman’s lack of conventional hotness is a central plot point. In movies, awesomeness only seems to really count if you’re a boy, and that makes me want to punch something.

73 thoughts on “Refusal to Suspend Disbelief

  1. hubs

    you’re right hollywood would require that of the women opposite of the winslet-man. what you’re forgetting is that losing all that weight and plastic surgery would make the jack black-woman just as bad and unsavory as you are implying jack black looks now. are you telling me that if rosanne was starring across from brad pitt (or whomever you fancy), she would be required to lose 150 pounds and get a face lift. somehow i doubt it, and i think hollywood knows it.

  2. sharla

    Me and my friend were JUST talking about that! Kate Winslet is gorgeous and while Jack Black is hilarious it doesn’t quite seem like a match

  3. KarinGal

    Haven’t seen the film yet, but maybe the bigger message is that few things beat a man who can make you laugh. No matter what he looks like.

    Plus Jude just gives me the creeps lately.

  4. SmartAss

    Regardless of Jack Black, I hate the white & fat & funny American guy with the pretty thin woman stereotype that Hollywood loves to push …. it’s a tale as old as time and I good give tons of examples but it really grates on my nerves.

    It goes along with aging leading man with MUCH younger starlett.

    Don’t get me started …

  5. shel

    yeah, what the heck is with that? and it may just be my opinion, but i think cameron diaz is as ugly as sin. a nose job isn’t going to fix that……

    kate, on the other hand, like you said: lit from the inside. she glows……

  6. Bethany

    Well, I have not seen the movie. Don’t really plan to as Cameron Diaz has bothered me for years, lost her charm sometime around Somthing about Mary. Jude Law used to be my number one Hollywood crush guy back when I still had those but now I think he’s just a douche. Kate however is radiant and I totally hear ya!

  7. Saundra in MO

    I think the premise of the movie is that the two girls (Winslet and Diaz) have traded houses for whatever reason and their boyfriends end up spending time with the wrong girl. So it was supposed to be Diaz with Black (which makes more sense) and Winslet with Law (which makes more sense). BUT, it’s nice to see an underdog get a bone once in a while. Black is lovable more for his personality than his looks. In any case, I’d take him over Jude Law any day.

  8. stb

    I used to hate the stereotype of the chubby dude and the smoking wife too, until year 10 of my graphic design desk job gut addition and the ability for my wife to continue to look smokin’. I am living a stereotype!

    I think Winslet is among the beauties in cinema, but I wouldn’t under-estimate Jack Black either. He’s not a bad looking dude and is funny.

    Winslet and Black seem much better the combo because Kate has a biting sense of humor herself. Watch the Ricky Gervais show called Extras where she plays the hilarious nun.

    Also, I think a role like this may appeal to Kate because from the preview it seems like Jack Black’s character has gone through some of the things Kate has in Hollywood. People calling her chubby, eccentric, etc.

  9. Choice

    So glad someone else is totally put off by this movie. I don;t like chick flicks in general, but one that tries to convince me that Jack Black is romantic heart throb material, is reaching too far for me. As far as I’m concerned this isn’t even a rental. It’s a catch on HBO when you have nothing better to do.

  10. lisa

    Coming from someone who’s actually SEEN the movie, perhaps you guys should consider seeing the movie before you criticize it so much!

    All four actors happened to be WONDERFUL in this movie. It was sweet, and charming, and all of my friends and I happen to have loved it.

    I usually consider Jude Law a cheating, non-hot, ho-bag, but in this movie .. HOTT.

    Normally not the biggest fan of Jack Black, but in this movie .. cute and loveable.

    Agreed, Cameron Diaz can get annoying however, in this movie .. charasmatic and charming

    Kate Winslet, usually not my favorite, but even I have to agree she was “lit from the inside” in this movie.

    AND! I don’t even know if he appears in the previews, but the storyline with Eli Wallach is probably the best and most heart-warming storyline in the entire film.

    Seriously guys, give it a chance. It really is a wonderful movie.

  11. lisa

    Oh, and Saundra, you’re assumption’s a little off. Yes, they do switch houses, but no, Jack Black was never Cameron Diaz’s boyfriend, and Jude Law was definitely never Kate Winslets, seeing as he play’s her brother ;)

  12. Darren

    I didn’t see any problem with the match – except that Jack Black wasn’t even that funny in this movie.
    It’s a pretty drippy romcom to be honest.

  13. Lori

    Jack Black’s character is funny, smart, talented, creative, and successful. And Kate Winslet’s character recognizes those qualities! And doesn’t think he isn’t attractive enough for her! Wow, a woman who’s not incredibly shallow and self-involved finds love with someone who’s not physically perfect — it’s a Christmas miracle!

  14. Marmy

    I believe the reason Kate Winslet gets paired with Jack Black is her character initially is in love with a beautiful man – Rufus Sewell. After he breaks her heart, she meets a man with a more conventional appearance but a lovely soul.
    At least, that’s what I got from the trailers having not seen the movie yet.

  15. Melanie

    I applaud the sentiment of your update; if the story went the other way around, the movie would never have been made. Why is that? Does Hollywood think that the average woman can’t identify with anyone less fabulously gorgeous than Kate or Cameron? Come on! If anything their unattainable appearance makes it MORE DIFFICULT to identify with them, not easier. Their best try was with “In Her Shoes”, in which, I guess, we are supposed to see Toni Collette as fat and ugly???? PLEASE!!

  16. el

    Oh…another comment.
    Have you seen “The Truth About Cats and Dogs”?
    It was a long time ago and I’m having trouble remembering the details but the main premise was that Jeanine Garafolo couldn’t get the man because she was ugly so Uma Thurman got him or something. I believe she won the guy in the end because of her awesomeness but it was like…”’re so awesome I can accept your shear horridness”. It was painful to watch and I couldn’t believe Jeanine agreed to do it.
    Now….hello hollywood? Jeanine Garafolo isn’t ugly which made the movie confusing and the fact that the title was basically calling her a dog…now that made ME want to punch something.

  17. rlandes

    i think the point is that women are considerably less lookist than men, who are really close to hopeless on this score. it’s got a lot to do with mimetic desire (you want what others want), hence men who go after women so that others will envy them. perhaps women can be clearer on what they want rather than fixated on what they think others want.

  18. Emma

    I understand your complaint, but as a girl I have this need to be the most attractive half of a couple. Guys that I think are “hot” I would probably never consider dating because they would make me feel self conscious, and that’s just not something I need in a relationship, to be always questioning myself.

  19. dawn

    i think it all goes back to the nature of the visually stimulatable male libido. men get turned on by what they see, whereas women get turned on (really, be honest) by something a little more complicated. add to that the capitalist culture we live in which cranks out: 1.) glossy porn and 2.) glossy fashion magazines that dictate what: 1.) women are supposed to want to look like and 2.) what men are supposed to *want* — in the end, men who look like jack black think they deserve women who look like kate winslet and they make movies about it, further enforcing the half-biological, half-cultural status quo.

    does that make any sense?

  20. Meepers

    Somewhat agreeing with Emma – in my dating life, I went out with a couple of guys that modeled/acted (and would like to go on record as saying that they were VERY intelligent, engaging and charming, despite their stunning good looks). Still, I’d rather feel like the prettier half of the couple without being perfectly coiffed/made up/dressed/worked out.

    Re: Jack Black vs. Jude Law: We’re watching Tenacious D right NOW, not “Closer” or any of the other schlopp Law has put out. Despite his (once) foxily good lucks and delicious accent. Jack Black, Case closed – I’d rather be mildly confused/hysterical most of the time than wonder if my guy was doing the nanny.

    Consider: Would you rather watch High Fidelity or Music from Another Room?

    However, in the cinema….it being run mostly by men…we get these generally impossible pairings. Sigh.

  21. Charlie

    As an unattractive male who has the ability to make people laugh, I have always had the good fortune to attract intelligent, funny, and very good-looking women. It use to stupify me until survey after survey noted that women usually place “makes me laugh” high up on the what is sexy scale. But based on the comments above, I am once again confused and losing my self-esteem. Gwar.

  22. lucy

    Charlie, are you really losing your self-esteem based on comments on a blog? Lori, do you really think Maggie thinks a beautiful woman should only be with a gorgeous man? The complaint is simply persistent sexist inequality in Hollywood. There are dozens of less attractive male actors who get leading roles based on personality. Less attractive female actors? Never. No but really. Never, unless, as Maggie said, their unattractiveness is a central plot point. So Charlie, no need to start questioning your validity as a human being. The question is, why don’t you date any physically unattractive, funny, intelligent women, the way women overlook your own unattractiveness?

  23. Charlie

    Well, you’ll notice I said I’ve had the good fortune to ‘attract’ intelligent, funny, very good-looking women. Some I’ve dated, most I haven’t. The great dates and relationships have always been with the intelligent/funny quotient being at the top of the list.

    I was once in a relationship with a classic, drop-dead gorgeous blond. Talk about the beauty and the beast. Unfortunately, after about a month, we had nothing, and I mean, nothing to talk about, because she had no interests in anything but sex. Needless to say we went out for a few months after that, but hard as this may be for some of you (and myself) to believe, I broke it off because it just got boring.

  24. Haley-O

    Apparently, Jude is SO short, too — so, we’ll have to suspend our disbelief when he towers over pretty little Cameron in the movie, too (presumably)….

  25. hubs

    I need to be the ugly half of a relationship, that is why, as a male, i can’t date anyone other than the incredibly attractive.

    what the hell is going on here. these comments make me want to punch something. lucy (#29) is about the only one i can find myself agreeing with, and even then, the comment comes across as arrogant.

  26. millie

    Jude Law gives me the creeps. I once stood behind him in a queue for parking permits in Camden Council. He is short. Golden but short.

    Wanting to punch something on this and related issues? Frequently. Usually sofa cushions oblige.

  27. hubs

    #39. Better make sure he’s white too, just for good measure. Or is that “hitting” too close to home.

    And I almost forgot, “I’d hit that!”

  28. Melanie - Holy Schmidt!

    We went for the media premier of Holiday. The movie was fantastic! Don’t knock it until you see it. My husband would like it, even thought it’s somewhat of a girly movie.

    Go see it! You will laugh your as off.

  29. Michelle

    Awww, I thought he looked very cute in that movie. His character made her character happier than the good looking guy she was after. That’s all that really matters! :)

    I don’t know if you think he’s hot but man, Jude Law’s dreamy eyes in that movie made me cream my pants.

  30. RJ

    This is an issue that makes me want to weep at my computer right now. Actually, everything makes me want to weep at my computer right now. I think I might have PMS.

  31. Stephanie

    Most of you seem to be missing the point. It has nothing to do with whether the movie is good or not (it looks good and I do want to see it). It has nothing to do with whether women are attracted to funny, conventionally unattractive men (I am!).

    The point is that in the media, men aren’t attracted to funny, unconventionally attractive women. It’s a complete double standard that is being perpetuated by Hollywood – because you see old/unattractive men with hot women, but almost never see old/unattrative women with hot guys.

    What kind of messages is this sending, what is this consciously or unconciously telling us about what we as women and they as men should be attracted to? These subconcious messages are repeated over and over in films, TV and advertising, that women are only attractive when they are physically attractive.

    I ended up writing a blog post, because this got so long. There’s more at my blog if you are interested.

  32. Laura

    That right there is the reason that ‘Dirty Dancing’ is one of my favorite movies of all time. Not only is it a wonderful story of a girl coming of age, but, the ugly duckling gets the super hot guy at the end.

  33. marielle

    I saw the movie on Saturday and I loved it. I thought it was really well cast and that a central part of Iris’ lesson was that she realized she’d fallen in love with this handsome guy who treated her like shit. How great that she opened her eyes to someone not as outwardly beautiful as she!

    How interesting is it that we aren’t arguing why Kate Winslet was cast opposite Jack Black? I find it’s often the women who say “he could do better” when a hot guy is holding hands with some Plain Jane and not the other way around. Maybe we recognize awesomeness more readily in guys because we are more critical of women? I thought Black did as well in his role as Winslet did. I think it’s great that Jack Black gets to be a leading man. He’s talented and he has obviously worked hard.

    I wish that my gender could have a similar success story, but who are we to choose? Thank goodness we have actors like Danny Devito, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Jack Black. Maybe we are catching up with America Ferrera on Ugly Betty. Maybe not, since she’s actually much prettier than they let her be.

    Or maybe we are just a more attractive gender.

  34. latenac

    “I believe the reason Kate Winslet gets paired with Jack Black is her character initially is in love with a beautiful man – Rufus Sewell. After he breaks her heart, she meets a man with a more conventional appearance but a lovely soul.”

    ditto. Face it Rufus Sewell is hotter than any of them. So of course if you’re dumped by him you’re still blinded from his looks and have to find someone based on their personality. Enter Jack Black.

  35. Heather

    I have to add a “Nuh unh!” to Jennifer Grey being an ugly duckling. Touche. Totally beautiful! Not to mention I wanted to be her for most of my childhood…

    Moving on.

    This stereotype is also found throughout porn. How come it is always some really icky older guy screwing the hot chick? I agree that it gets frustrating for us normal, not totally hot, women to only see gorgeous, thin, physically perfect women get the nice, sweet, smart (and attractive) guys. Granted, it is all tv and media, but still… it takes its toll after awhile.

  36. Nancy

    Agreeing whole-heartedly with Heather (#55) on both her points. I’ve always thought of Patrick Swayze as the ugly duckling in the aforementioned pairing.

    No one has explained “gwar” to me yet.

    Damn. Now I can’t get “Time of my life” out of my head.

  37. (the other) Margaret

    Ladies and Gents, need I remind you of the amazing 1991 film “Dogfight”. In said film, the far from unattractive, yet certainly unconventional, Lily Taylor plays “dog” to River Phoneix’s cruel, soon to be sent to ‘Nam, Marine. The thing I love about this film is that it isn’t “Oh, how lovely, the awkward girl gets the handsome hunk”, but more like, “the kindhearted, poetic, and real woman levels the jerky guy for being cruel, and actually teaches him a lesson or two about humanity in the process.”

    1995’s “Circle of Friends”, starring another fave, Minnie Driver, also favors an unconventional, and at the time, fairly chunky, female lead, who captures the heart of Chris O’Donnell.

    Now, I’m not saying these are the standard in Hollywood. The fact is that they are the only ones I can come up with and are both over a decade old. And both stories make “the ugly duck gets the swan” the central theme. But Jack Black and his ilk usually are cast as the unlikely mate for the likes of Kate Winslet, too.

    Anywho, I am in agreement with those of you voicing frustrations, but thought I might at least encourage you to watch, or re-watch, these two gems, as an antidote to the genral filmmaking trend.

  38. dani

    Umm I would take Jack Black over Jude Law anyday! Jude used to have something, but ever since the affair with the nanny and the dullness of his last oh, 10 roles (in about 2 years) I don’t have any attraction any more.
    Jack has a cheekyness about him that I am totally getting now.

  39. Obiwan

    One missing point: the movie is just awful. My GF and I went (her choice, though I usually like a good rom-com) and shy of the 1-hour mark we rolled our eyes at each other, stood up and left. We spent the next 10 minutes gleefully ripping Cameron Diaz for easily the worst acting performance of the New Century.

  40. Virg

    Gwar… death metal crossed with foam rubber costumes. For all who were asking.

    As an ugly guy, and fan, Go Jack! I agree that the average female is never portrayed by Hollywood which is a crying shame. I’m not all that attracted to anything under a size 12. Minnie in “Circle of Friends”, rrowr!

  41. Michelle

    Sucked in by marketing, I actually saw this movie last night. It was poorly written and full of cliches (and not even warm-fuzzy cliches, just flat, lame cliches), but Kate Winslet and Jude Law carried it. Every time the camera rested on one of them, it was the slightly formulaic but still feel-good movie I was hoping to see. Cameron Diaz, meanwhile, simply can’t act, and her character was unlikeable to boot. I think the movie inadvertently provides a keen illustration of how above-average looks and a skinny body don’t necessarily add up to a desirable person.

  42. Lori

    Lucy asked: “Lori, do you really think Maggie thinks a beautiful woman should only be with a gorgeous man?”

    Lucy, I read “Cameron Diaz gets Jude Law and Kate Winslet gets… Jack Black? Seriously, Hollywood? I understand that he’s supposed to be impishly charming, and winning, and etcetera, but Kate Winslet is lit from the inside.” So, yes, it looks like Maggie said that Kate is too beautiful to get stuck with “… Jack Black? Seriously?”

  43. starlet

    HA! Remember when Jack Black was in that movie with Tony Robbins and Gwen Paltrow except she was COMPLETELY FAT but awesome?! Hey how did that work out in the end? lol. I always thought it was funny he was calling HER fat…

  44. Alyce

    I know I have something to say on this issue but it just doesn’t come out right.

    As a human being I would take kind over hot (or should I have spelled it hott?) any day.

    Hollywood has been making unrealistic casting choices for years. And until indie movies cast in atypical ways and go on to gross $100m or more, Hollywood will never notice.

  45. bellacantare

    Did anyone else that saw the movie – whether you liked it or not – notice that almost every seen includes a view of the boom mic??? And not just the tip of the mic, but the entire arm of the mic! One extra inch and we would have seen the boom operator. Bad movie all around for me. I apologized to my boyfriend ten minutes into the movie. I will probably never be able to convince him into another chick flick again.
    Slow, long, boring, unimaginative, lack of chemistry and bad acting all around. Yuck. Don’t even bother renting it.

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