Positive Cynicism – Why is Katherine Heigl a feminist icon, but not Kelly Clarkson?

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

Someone please explain modern feminism to me.

I’m going to compare the cases of two women in pop culture here, and then you can explain something to me.

Case One: Katherine Heigl

This really, really bugged me. The week before last, Katherine Hiegl was on Letterman pushing her new movie The Ugly Truth and was asked how her first day back on the Grey’s Anatomy set was. Her answer: “It was – I’m going to keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them – a 17-hour day, which I think is cruel and mean.” Of course, in order to gain audience sympathy, she neglected to mention that the reason she had to work a 17-hour day was that the producers had very graciously shuffled things around to accommodate her schedule so that she could go and promote her movie and still work on the show.

Now I, like a lot of people, consider Katherine Heigl to be something of an ingrate. That’s putting it kindly. She’s done a lot of things to earn my annoyance. She leapt to the aid of T.R. Knight when he was the subject of Isaiah Washington’s homophobic tirade, but did it in the most grandstanding way possible because, you know, it was really all about her friend and what happened to her friend. During the WGA Writers’ Strike, she took a couple of photos with other actors near where writers were protesting so she could pretend to support it and then drive off. She bashed the makers of Knocked Up in a way that implied that she didn’t actually understand the movie in the first place.

A woman bashing the movie that made her a bankable movie star? Like I said: ingrate.

And do I even need to go into her much-derided (and defended) comments about taking herself out of the running for Emmy consideration because the writers didn’t give her any good material, as if the nominating committee really wanted to nominate her for everything they possibly could, but Heigl graciously stepped aside? And, of course, it wasn’t her fault that she had to drop out; it was those talentless writers who thrust her incredible, selfless sacrifice on her in the first place.

Please. Pleeeeeeease.


Now, let’s change track for a min.

Case Two: Kelly Clarkson

Let’s just lay this one out honestly: Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone” and Beyonce’s “Halo” sound like exactly the same song. They have the same very simple backing. Both songs were written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, whatever the hell that is, and now Clarkson is upset that her new single sounds like she’s intentionally ripping off Beyonce.

She called foul on her record company for this, but was apparently told to shut up about it. They decided “Already Gone” would be the third single from her album All I Ever Wanted, and that she was never to say anything to the press about the similarity between the two songs.

But she did.

She told the press she didn’t want it to be her new single because she didn’t want people to think she was ripping off Beyonce. She told the press that the record company didn’t want her to say anything about it. And she essentially put the blame on Tedder for pawning off the same music on two different artists.

Now, when you listen to both songs, they’re pretty much the same. Do I think Tedder was purposely trying to pull a fast one? No. I just think he’s really uncreative. I mean, he also wrote Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love,” which besides being a really gross title for a song also sounds a lot like the other two. The guy just isn’t very inventive. He’s a factory. No, no … a processing plant. He’s a processing plant where all songs come out pretty much the same.

But now Kelly Clarkson has to suffer for speaking out about something she isn’t happy with. And her record label has threatened to punish her. They’ve already put out a half-assed video for “Already Gone” that both Clarkson and the video’s director, Joseph Kahn, are unhappy with. They’re apparently going to stop spending money on promotion for her album, which means no more singles, no more music videos, no more label support and even her tour is in danger.

This is, you may remember, the second time her label has punished her for speaking out. The first time was on her previous album, My December, which received zero promotion because the label didn’t like it and were unhappy with her for standing up for it.

So, now that I’ve talked about these two women, my question is this:

Why, whenever anyone on any website anywhere speaks ill of Katherine Heigl, do women crawl out of the woodwork to defend her, while Kelly Clarkson doesn’t enjoy the same support? You can’t criticize Katherine Heigl at all without someone rushing in and screaming “You don’t understand! What she said was a joke! She’s just being honest! You’re uninformed! You’re afraid of her because she’s a woman who speaks her mind!

Ugh, always with that. “She speaks her mind!”

Well, you know who also speaks her mind? Kelly Clarkson. She recognizes that she’s being screwed over – repeatedly – by her uncaring label bosses, but when she speaks out she somehow doesn’t generate the vehement defense that flies to the aid of the chick from Bride of Chucky who seems to always have an opinion about how “cruel” it is that her producers moved everyone’s schedule and paid out scads of overtime just to accommodate her press schedule.

So I just don’t get what feminism is now. It seems to me that a woman being punished in her career for not playing ball and just agreeing to look foolish is somehow more worthy of speaking out in support for than a woman who denigrates the people who helped her gain fame and whines about having to work for a living.

I just don’t get it.

But that’s just me speaking my mind.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

Comments (1)
  1. Lorna September 2, 2014

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