Flat White

Hello yellowbrick road: Hollywood abandons fading female stars

1 January 2022

12:00 PM

1 January 2022

12:00 PM

I am surprised that some people still dispute the idea that sex sells. We know it sells television series and cars, but there are so many other products that have become successes in the marketplace just by the addition of sexual frisson. Inevitably, that frisson is generated in the shape of a good-looking young woman who appears to be of an age when she is fertile and single.

It is unfortunately true that men, by nature, find women physically attractive. The important thing to recognise, however, is that the nature of a woman is such that at this age she will insist, for the most part, on a man who is about the same age or only a little older.

The Australian internationally famous actress, Nicole Kidman, managed to express a single truth about Hollywood when speaking to Dujour magazine last week. She blasted Hollywood’s obsession with youthful women: ‘There’s a consensus in the industry that as a female actor, at about forty, you’re done.’

I am surprised it was not until she was fifty that she noticed this truth.

Hollywood recognised almost from the beginning that sex sells and the allusion to sex is in the form of the young, good-looking female figure. That is not to suggest that female sexual activity ceases at forty. Only that, other than Cher and Jane Fonda, most women of that age are wives and mothers of children and sexual activity comes with strict reservations. Impulsive it seldom is, for very good reasons.

It is probably necessary to note that while it is the male to whom the allure of the starlet is directed – he usually pays for the movie tickets – it is the female patron who enjoys the imaginary promise held out by the female star of a happy ending. The Hollywood invention of the chick-flick was intended to appeal to both women and men, but the film’s unsubtle promise of a permanent relationship after that final kiss appealed to the female nature more than the male.

One has to sympathize with Ms Kidman’s plight. She is still very beautiful and with acting skills second to none, but she has entered that age when her physical presence will become motherly. She has hit on a home truth, that Hollywood is not about ‘the Arts’, it is about the C – the ‘Cash’. The hard heads that decide which scripts will be financed will always invest in what is tried and tested according to nature.

There should be movies for women of her age and older, but Hollywood is not in that business. Actresses older than Ms Kidman either perform musicals or play unconvincing roles in James Bond movies. The question that Hollywood does not answer is, what sort of script is naturally suited to a woman when age rules out physicality? We might suggest detective stories, but Agatha Christie has been done.

If women reach physical maturity about the age of twenty, it is said that men reach their full mental powers at approximately fifty-five years of age when they have not yet lost their physicality. Women, even young women, find them attractive and may even like the idea of marrying a George Clooney or Brad Pitt for his looks and money; but give them another twenty years and these men will be desired only for their money.

I am truly sorry Nicole, sorry for what Hollywood has done to you, other female actors, and for its attempts over the past four or five years to make the government of the United States into one of its fantasy dramas. Surely, however, you must have known what it was going to be like before you put a foot on the yellow brick road.

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