Media Critique: Rebel Wilson is Getting Paid to Play the Same Fat Character (& (I’m Happy for Her!)

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Real Talk: I was hesitant to publish this post, because I really don’t enjoy critiquing women creatives in public. However, I hope that somewhere a casting agent or screenwriter or or or SOMEONE who is a decision maker in the movie biz sees this, and it prompts them to try something new.

I’m a plus size fashion and business blogger (hellur), and recently I’ve gotten into reviewing movies.

This didn’t happen on purpose, and it definitely wasn’t part of my ~content plan~. My therapist told me I had to go do “one fun thing a week,” which is how I ended up sitting my cute butt in my local Cinemark every Friday afternoon. Being “forced” to go see a movie every week means that I’ve seen a lot of movies I probablyyyy wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Popcorn GIF by Angry Birds - Find & Share on GIPHY

Having a weekly movie date with myself means that I pay more attention to reviews, announcements and general movie blogging nerdery.

Aaaaand something I’ve noticed in the last year-ish is the rise of Rebel MF Wilson. Thus far in 2019, she’s starred in “Isn’t It Romantic?” and “The Hustle.” She’s also gonna be in the “Cats!” movie, playing Jennyanydots.

Rebel Wilson is killing it. I am stoked to see someone with a not-flat tummy getting movie roles and getting photographed on the red carpet.

However.

She’s playing The. Same. Goddamn. Character.

Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect

Rebel Wilson caught her big break in Pitch Perfect (2012). The film gained a cult following of internet weirdos and gay fanfic writers (hi, it me!), and it helped Rebel Wilson land bigger acting jobs.

In the film franchise, Rebel Wilson plays “Fat Amy,” an abrasive and gross character whose punchlines usually include a reference to her size, or a cutting sizeist remark about herself that she doesn’t “realize” references her size.

Pitch Perfect GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Fat Amy was basically a more fully fleshed out version of her character Brynn in Bridesmaids. Awkward, abrasive and lacking personal boundaries.

And we’ve continued to see that character in her other films. Again. And Again. And again.

Note: There were issues around Rebel Wilson refusing to listen to women of color on social media, but that deserves its own post/analysis. Other people have written brilliant pieces on that whole situation, so I would start with the one linked.

Enter: 2019

Seeing previews of “Isn’t It Romantic,” I was pretty annoyed. Here we are AGAIN, with a fat woman who is deemed undesirable. The same tropes from “Pitch Perfect” et al, but this time packaged up in a “body positive” romcom.

The film had some good messages and a few surprises for me, which was nice. I laughed during it. I felt like we had eked out some progress when it comes to telling plus size stories. Wilson’s character was a more sanitized version of “Fat Amy,” and she ended the film willing to take up professional and romantic space – when she had been shrinking into herself.

But the character arc still revolved around low self-esteem and the premise that fat women aren’t desirable. The previews rested on the idea that Liam Hemsworth, playing Blake (Hemsworth) wouldn’t find Natalie (Wilson) attractive IRL.

THE WRITERS HAD TO MAKE UP A WHOLE GODDAMN WORLD WHERE THEY COULD BE DATING?!

I left the theatre thinking, “Maybe we’re getting somewhere!! Maybe? This wasn’t nearly as bad as her previous movies!!” That film didn’t leave me feeling like I needed to screech in frustration, but I also wasn’t going to give it credit. It still didn’t treat plus bodies fairly. It was a different take on a romcom??

I’m conflicted on that front.

AND ALSO in that film, Wilson had the SAME romantic interest from Pitch Perfect? What is up with this casting??? Do we have to cast the same love interest, because having two different dude actors in love with Wilson is one too many?

Adam Devine Love GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Hustle: The Film I Wanted so Desperately to Love

And thennnn, I saw “The Hustle” last week. A more in-depth movie review is coming, but Wilson played THE SAME GODDAMN CHARACTER in this film as well. I wanted to love this movie, y’all. I love expensive real estate, islands and women getting money.

I really should’ve educated my expectations on this one.

Wilson AGAIN plays a boorish, messy and unsophisticated person, who is abrasive and makes questionable jokes.

Literally if you took the character of Fat Amy, Brynn, etc etc and you compared notes – you’d see the same character traits and development.

In the film, “Fat” translates to “gross.” She’s bumbling, clumsy and doesn’t take social cues. She isn’t seen as desirable. HOWEVER, her character does utilize her lack of desirability to target awful dudes – so the character traits do fit into the story. Kind of.

Okay it’s a stretch.

The same mannerisms and characteristics from Fat Amy show up in the character Penny. They may as well have just called her “Fat Amy” or just, you know, “Amy.” -_-

FASHION ASIDE: While I loved Wilson’s faux-leather “garbage” dress in the preview, the creme lace one is a TRAVESTY.

Avert thing eyes, fellow plus fashionistas.

Anne Hathaway looked like she was ready to seduce and kill a man in her outfit, but Wilson was not so blessed. -_- There are MANY plus size brands that would’ve loved to dress Wilson for this scene in an upscale casino, and we were given this monstrosity that evokes Mother of the Bride.

I’ve seen Rebel KILL IT in some pieces from 11 Honoré, so I just don’t understand how this happened. WE HAVE OPTIONS. There is no need for this lace monstrosity.

Type Casting & Fat People

Okay, so I’m pretty stoked to see a plus size person get major box office cred added to their IMDB. Anddddd I also understand that Wilson may not be able to be as picky as other stars, because she’s been put in a box. She’s also the only visibly plus size woman, besides Melissa McCarthy, getting major roles in more ~mainstream~ movies.

I get that type casting is a thing. The issue with type casting when it comes to Wilson is that the “type” is offensive and, frankly, bullies plus size movie goers. If Rebel Wilson wasn’t one of like THREE plus size actresses getting cast in comedies and more “fluffy” movies, I’d be less ticked off.

Totally fine with actors playing the same character. But that only works if there is diverse representation onscreen.

I also think that Rebel is actually quite beautiful. I want to love the characters she plays. But I just… don’t.

We deserve better than fat jokes onscreen. We deserve to be able to go to the movies and not see harmful images like this:

Anne Hathaway Gym GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Hollywood & Fat People

I wish we didn’t have to sacrifice dignity for representation. I’m not asking to put plus size actresses on a pedestal, only casting them in roles for badass ingenues and leads (I also wouldn’t be mad about it!). I’m good with diverse representation. My issue is the one-dimensional representation of fat people we’re seeing. Rebel Wilson is only cast as these characters.

Would Wilson continue to get cast if she didn’t play this same goddamn character?

I think Hollywood continues to cast her in these roles, because they think that she’ll bring in ticket sales from plus size women, who make up 67% of the population.

Anne Hathaway Yes GIF by The Hustle Movie - Find & Share on GIPHY

However, dear Hollywood – this isn’t the case. Many plus size and fat folks avoid movies with her in it, because we don’t need to pay $15 to see ourselves as the butt of another joke // made fun of onscreen.

Many plus size and fat movie goers avoid movies starring Rebel Wilson, because of the fat jokes.

Rebel Wilson is funny. But why do the storylines of her characters – and their punchlines – have to rest on her size???

Fat People Are Desirable

I know this will come as a shock to the Los Angeles crowd, but fat people are desirable. Fat people are smart. Fat people know how to dress.

And if you want us to show up to the theater, try casting a visibly plus size woman in a role that doesn’t depend on how gross she is because of her size.

Rebel, Keep Cashing Your Checks

So, all in all, I’ll keep hoping that some casting director, SOMEWHERE, will give Rebel Wilson a chance to play a new kind of character. One that isn’t explicitly written as “fat.” I would love to see her show her acting chops in a different kind of box office film.

And, Rebel, keep cashing your checks. I’ll cheer you on as you do it. I get it’s hard out here for a fat girl. <3

What do you think of this critique? Agree? Disagree? Share in the comments below!

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