Killer Stripper vs. the Porn Star

Image for post
Image for post
Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling

In Planet Terror, Rose McGowan plays Cherry Darling, a stripper with a machine gun/grenade launcher strapped to her amputated leg. She uses this weapon to eviscerate the bad guys with gusto and over-the-top cinematic gore. This makes her the ultimate feminine warrior — and also a complicated choice to be a leading voice in the #MeToo movement. When you market your sexuality as part of your brand, people tend to view you as a sex object. Nobody thinks of Meryl Streep‘s as a sex subject. They think of her as America’s most beloved actress because she sells her acting chops, not her sex appeal. (Meryl is damn sexy, though. Smart women always are.)

Hollywood is an awful place down in the shadows under people’s desks. The abuse Rose McGowan had to endure from Harvey Weinstein’s pervy paws is hard to imagine. It’s criminal. He must be punished to the full extent of the law and bled dry of every last dollar he ever earned exploiting women. But it’s also hard to imagine that McGowan was so naive at the time she met Harvey that she didn’t know what she was getting into. Any human that has worked in Hollywood during the last 100 years of “show business” is familiar with a long, sordid history of sex scandals, molested children, drunken parties, secret gay orgies, and every type of substance abuse leading to sex-fueled pool parties and barely-lubricated acts of ultimate sin and degradation. The evidence shows no depravity is too much for celebrities, or one of the privileged pigs in power within Hollywood’s inner circles of movie money.

No one told Rose about any of this sordid business? She’s clearly an intelligent actress. How could she have missed all the clues Fatty Arbuckle left her? Or Errol Flynn? Or Roman Polanski? Or the scores of actresses who had been sexually abused over a century of filmmaking? Perhaps all those crimes were ancient history to the 23 year old actress. Fine. But the Heidi Fleiss scandal that rocked the Hollywood elite in the 1990s should’ve made an impression on Rose as to what men in movies value most.

“I like tits and ass,” director Paul Verhoeven once said. “Mostly tits.” A rare blast of honesty from inside the dream factory.

The casting couch joke only exists as a stereotype because it has a layer of truth. Everyone working in ‘The Industry’ has seen or heard enough casting couch stories over the years to gag on their own vomit. Nepotism is one way of getting ahead in Hollywood but another but another way to power starts on your knees, with a sexually accommodating attitude. Get ahead by giving head, as the age old axiom goes.

In the case of Rose, I’m genuinely curious how a young actress who made films with potty-mouthed Pauly Shore and came of age during the carnal excesses of the 1990s could be so blind about the sex-crazed, dark reality that is the entertainment industry.

Somehow, Charlize Theron was not as blind as McGowan. Per the 2005 article about her in Marie Claire, when an experienced director asked Theron to read for a role and then invited her back to his house on a Saturday night, her pervert detector went off. She immediately thought the invite was odd, but as an 18 year old new to America, she speculated that maybe acting was a strangely relaxed profession. When she showed up at the director’s house, though, and he greeted her at the door in his Hugh Hefner pajamas, she told him, “Not going to happen! Got the wrong girl, buddy!’’ Theron was nobody’s fool.

And what about Stormy Daniels and her illicit butt spanking liaison with Donald J. Trump? At the time, Donald was most famous for his role on ‘The Apprentice,’ not for being a pussy-grabbing president. The circumstances of their meeting were nearly identical to those of other abusive powerful men who try to seduce, rape, or sexually assault unsuspecting young women. (See also: Kobe Bryant rape case.) It makes you wonder: Is there some secret official playbook out there for pervy assholes, a ‘Rape for Dummies’ guide? They all follow the same awful pattern.

When Daniels showed up at Trump’s hotel room for their supposed business meeting, she joked that Trump “stole his outfit” from Mr. Hefner. (Another side note: What is it with these creepy predators and their fixation with Hugh Hefner-style pajamas? In what world are pajamas on men ever sexy?) But Stormy Daniels, unlike McGowan and to a lesser extent, Theron, knew the kind of deal it was before ever agreeing to meet with Trump in the first place. She knew what men of his ilk wanted and she played the game to get what she wanted. Cash.

The Stormy Daniels episode reveals that porn actresses are better judges of a man’s intentions than conventional actresses. Porn stars, and sex workers, know the true depravities which simmer hidden within the infantile id of powerful men. (All men, sadly, whether they want to admit it or not.) The primordial desire to have sex and reproduce, or just engage in the act of possible reproduction, is a biological imperative encoded in our genes. Most men are culturally trained enough to keep their sexual urges in check and in line with current societal norms. But then there are men who believe norms and unspoken rules don’t apply to them.

Yes, Rose, there are bad people out there, people who don’t care about the pain they inflict on others. In a perfect world, we would be protected from such people. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that perfect world. Therefore, we must do everything we to protect ourselves from the Harvey Weinsteins and Fatty Arbuckles who terrorize the planet.

We must applaud Rose McGowan for having the courage to speak up, even if she was foolish enough to think that Harvey was actually interested in helping her career and not just fucking her, or having his shoulders and other things rubbed. McGowan’s bravery has shined a 10,000 watt spotlight on all the cockroaches scurrying around in Hollywood, and in other industries as well.

The lesson we must take from the killer stripper and the porn star is that it’s time to check our naivety at the door. It’s time to morph the #MeToo movement out of its current state of anger and victimhood into the more empowering realm of #NaiveNoMore.

Eric Coyote earned his Master of Arts degree in critical theory from the University of Southern California. He writes about movies, Hollywood, and culture.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store