Newsman and Alibi contributor John Bear is fed up with the portrayal of female reporters in film. Hollywood’s hypersexualized, girly journalists should all be fired, Bear opined, for sleeping with their sources.
Crazy Heart sparked his observation and criticism. In the movie, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a single-mom music writer who interviews an old alcoholic country musician and falls for him. In this interview with Steven Zeitchik of The Roanoke Times, Gyllenhaal addresses sexism, ageism and journalism.
Q: What have the reactions been to the age difference in the on-screen relationship?
A: I get some indignance from women journalists. I think it's difficult for a relationship with a 30-year age difference to be healthy. But it happens all the time. So, what, you don't make movies about it if you think it's not the healthiest thing in the world?
I got sent this article—and I've been trying not to read press—about sexism in our culture, and they cited "Crazy Heart" as an example of yet another movie where the guy's much older and the woman's much younger. And I felt like this person who was writing maybe didn't see the movie. We're not this sexy hero and heroine who are championing our love affair! You can't choose who turns you on.
Q: You play a journalist in this film, which must make it a little bit odd when you're having, well, conversations like these.
A: It's tough talking to journalists because I think (the character) Jean is very green. She's not a seasoned journalist. And sometimes they can be a little critical.
But I think Jean is interested in finding out something true, which is something I'm interested in, in terms of journalists.
Some people have interviewed me, before I stopped reading press—which I haven't entirely done, but I try—and I read the article and thought, "That person came in with an open mind and did their best to figure out something true about me." Other times, I think someone has a fantasy or idea of me and just writes it up. Jean is the first kind.
Q: Have any journalists said things that weren't simply evaluations of your job performance?
A: I had a great interview with the Carpetbagger woman (Melena Ryzik of the New York Times). I loved her—we really got along—but she was like, "I'm so tired of seeing movies where the woman journalist sleeps with her subject." And I was like, "I don't know if it happens, but it happened here." And she's not as tough as you are. Jean isn't as grounded. She's such a feeler. She's fighting through all of that to write this article and be a journalist, but the opposition to that is this powerful, serious attraction.
Q: Which eventually wins out.
A: Yes (pause). And I wonder what (Ryzik) would have done if she was in a room with Jeff Bridges.