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The Media: Focusing Primarily On Helen Mirren's Breasts Since 1975

It's painfully obvious that Helen Mirren is gorgeous. Unfortunately, it seems the only references made to her stint as guest host of last night's episode of Saturday Night Live seem to be related to how attractive she —or more specifically her chest— is.

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The references to her miraculous ability to be attractive and "old" seemed to dominate the episode and as a result, most of the media coverage today.

Now, I know, I know. It's just Saturday Night Live, but when things like this really take off, I always feel like the media was pretty trigger-happy to begin with. "We get to take an incredible actress and write solely about her body? Perfect!"

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The saddest thing is, as a fan of Mirren's, the first thing this media frenzy made me think of was her fairly famous interview with British TV host Michael Parkinson in 1975:

During the 1975 chat with the talk show host Parkinson, now 70-years-old, made a slew of sexist comments and kept drawing attention to certain parts of her body.

He even quoted a theater reviewer who had seen Mirren perform and wrote that she was 'projecting sluttish eroticism,' whilst on stage.

In years to come Mirren would describe Parkinson as 'an extremely creepy interviewer' and claim he acted 'like an ass.'

But in a recent interview with BUST magazine she stated that the whole experience 'was enraging. But it was par for the course to a certain extent, she said.

'It was fairly common, that kind of attitude.'

(It should also be noted that the lede in this Daily Mail article is, "It happened 35-years-ago so you would think she would be over it by now.")

'Weirdly', she isn't over it. But what's even worse is the fact that society seems to be having its own difficulty letting go of "that kind of attitude":

Whilst promoting her film Love Ranch, Mirren stripped off for a shoot with New York Magazine in which she was seen lying in a bath topless.

'I mean, honestly, what is the matter with people?' she said at the time.

'It's ridiculous. It's because I'm old. It's only because I'm old. There is a weird query and fascination. I love photography and I love the art of photography.'

'And the photographer for those photographs was actually a very high-level art photographer.'

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You would think that Mirren, being quite "high-level" herself, would have some ounce of control at this point in her career in terms of the way she is depicted —and it's entirely possible that she was completely fine with the material SNL provided for her. There's no way to know for sure.

But I think her 36-year-long battle with people focusing primarily on her "assets" only serves to reinforce the disheartening possibility that where the media is concerned, a woman's body may not be much of an asset at all.

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DISCUSSION

hildy-johnson
hildy.johnson

To me, and this is so subjective it's ridiculous, the most interesting thing about the media attention on her looks is that she's never been or tried to be "traditionally" pretty. Her body is in good shape, but she looks her age. She doesn't have a ton of surgery. She's never played the straight ingenue. She's a character actress. What people are really responding to is the fact that she's attractive and sexual without being conventional. She owns her sexuality, and continues to do so as she ages. I met her a couple of times through my parents. I've relayed this story before, but about 20 years ago, I was at a party and she showed up with Taylor Hackford. She was wearing a white button down shirt and a floor length pink skirt that was unbelievable. I asked her where she got the skirt. "Oh, it's actually a piece of fabric being held together with some safety pins, can you believe it? i have to keep adjusting that damn thing." She had a tattoo on her hand that she'd made HERSELF with a needle, or something. She explained it away as a "60's thing." The point is, she has CHARISMA. The media can't explain it so they talk about her good-not-remarkable body and breasts, when the point is SHE DOESN'T GIVE A FUCK.