Luke Brennan: Hot Type


From top: Yesterday’s The Guardian; Luke Brennan

Luke Brennan writes:

Honestly, is the truth important?’ I think it is. Or it should be. It is to me. Not specifically to me, I do like the truth, but, I’m just a bloke, a consumer/user/reader of articles.

But when I see the headline: ‘‘They said I wasn’t hot enough’: Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review’ As it did yesterday, on The Guardian homepage I can’t help thinking….and I’m paraphrasing here, that a magazine said that Carey Mulligan wasn’t hot enough in a magazine review.

I think two things, actually. I think Carey Mulligan said it, but I also think, reasonably enough, that she said it, because, well, that is what the magazine said.

Committed fan of Carey Mulligan that I am, I want to know more. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to click on that particular article, it features highly in the “most viewed” articles on the site.

I am, however, a little surprised when I visit the article, what Carey Mulligan said was a bit different, it was:

Speaking to the New York Times last month, Mulligan said the Variety review “was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse”.

Now, I think we all know the difficult word here is “basically”. Has anyone else had this conversation?

Me: “Are you telling me the truth?”

The Guardian: “I’m basically telling you the truth.”

You can see ‘basically’ is a very useful word when you want to tell the truth, but find it a little inconvenient. You start to use it when you hit your late teens and you work out that you are basically a genius.

So Carey is avoiding an inconvenience here, but where the truth is being stretched, or indeed hidden, is the removal of that word ‘basically’. I’ll show you how that works:

Me: “Are you telling me the truth?”

The Guardian: “I’m telling you the truth.”

I suppose you might be wondering at this stage what the review article actually said about Carey Mulligan?

It’s not really important. But they said:

“Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale – Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on.”

Now I personally think this criticism is unfair. The film is slightly clumsy, but important. It seems ridiculous to think how Carey Mulligan looks has anything to do whether it “works”.

It is diminishing of both the actor and film to see it reduced in this way and raises questions of whether the review author is able to pull off this particular ruse, or was he just looking for a little attention.

What I care a bit more about is the truth, and whether The Guardian feels the recycling of this reduction, with a removal of their own to fan the flames, is worth it.

It just sort of bothers me, as a Joe Schmoe, reader of articles, that they don’t hold themselves to a higher standard. Truth is a good starting point for any article, isn’t it?

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

‘They said I wasn’t hot enough’: Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review (The Guardian)

‘Promising Young Woman’: Film Review (Variety, January 26)

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47 thoughts on “Luke Brennan: Hot Type

  1. baz

    wat the actual
    if her looks don’t matter why is she so sensitive about the matter?

    “By the sword you did your work, and by the sword you die.”
    ― Aeschylus, Agamemnon

  2. Chevy Chase

    Jesus this guy is going to have a stroke when he sees some of the reporting around Covid or the US elections.

  3. Col

    The actual quote from Mulligan was ““It felt like it was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse”
    I don’t know how to italicise, but “felt like” is an important omission from the Guardian article.

    1. ian-oh

      Good point Col and it makes a world of difference to this.

      I am very glad to see Luke is so concerned about peoples specific use of language.

      I mean we all know there is absolutely zero sexism in the movie industry so lets all count how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or some other vastly important point.

      The review made reference to her looks, some might say so what but they rarely mention the physical appearance of male actors so yeah, she has a point. More and more female actors seem to be quitting the industry as they full well know that their time is nearly up, when was the last time Tom Cruise was cast alongside a woman even within 10-15 years of his age? Around 60 and still being cast alongside 30 somethings.

      So Mulligans appearance is important but the idea of men regularly hooking up with women half their age is perfectly cromulent.

      OK Hollywood.

        1. ian-oh

          On a scale of 1 to 10 on how good Tom Cruise plays ‘Tom Cruise’ in his movies, I give him a solid 10 out of 10 for his fantastic portrayal of Tom Cruise.

          Nobody else even comes close.

          1. Janet, dreams of an alternate universe

            honestly no swooning, actually he looks like my brother except my brother is 6ft 3, so even if his hoop didn’t scrape the ground that would put me off

          2. Papi

            A TV guide thing for “Interview with a vampire”
            “Tom Cruise is a soul sucking vampire whose entire existence is based on the suffering of others.
            The movie however is on at ten tonight and also stars Brad Pitt”

          3. ian-oh

            @Papi – Lol’d at that too.

            Dam you Tom, one wonders how many innocents must die to feed your insatiable appetite for youth?

            The scoundrel…..


          4. benblack

            Edge of Tomorrow, IMO, is the best science-fiction movie to date. Minority Report is a close second. Both incorporate complex time plots, but, communicate the complexity in an understandable way – not an easy task as Tenet has proved.

            Not a Scientologist, just a sci-fi fan.

            Tom Cruise in both.

          5. Papi

            “Just a sci-fi fan” and “Edge of Tomorrow is the best science fiction movie to date” are not sentences that go together.

          6. benblack

            I disagree.

            Time is the ultimate factor in our limited anthropomorphic understanding, so any movies brave enough to address and incorporate this – in an understandable way – must be commended.


            There’s more to life that the physical.

          7. Janet, dreams of an alternate universe

            ah I’m just teasing, I dated a shorter man once and apart from the sore neck and a pile of dusty heels it was very rock and roll :)

          8. Papi

            No spoilers, Janet, I don’t want to know what they found. Oh. Wait.
            Is it any good? I’ve been seeing mixed reviews. I’m keeping it till tomorrow so I can do your history podcast and then the movie.

          9. Janet, dreams of an alternate universe

            actually I’m glad I listened to the podcast first….and that’s all I say :)

          10. Papi

            I just know I’ll be roaring at the excavation part.
            I have pics of the Gjellestad ship dig I was at recently, just awesome. We had a private tour of the Viking museum first by the director and he said the Osberg ship cannot be classed as a UNESCO heritage site because it’s not actually in situ, but the excavation records can, because they were all so ahead of their time. He actually brought “colourists” to the dig to record the paint on the ship instantly, because exposure to air made them disappear within minutes. So they painted the finds in colour as fast as they could, a Polaroid of the time.

            Archaeology boner.

  4. George

    Reviewer says the role was probably intended for a famously smoking hot actress and compares the actress who was cast to a man dressed as a woman. Sounds like Carey was on the money.

    The critic tried to deny it by saying he is gay as though gay men never comment on how good looking woman are…

    1. Lilly

      I like Carey Mulligan a lot less after reading that. The editor of Variety should grow a backbone and stand by the reviewer.

  5. Scundered

    Too many people trying their best to misunderstand others, attracted by the weaponisation of victimhood, but also supported by most media channels to get more clicks/money, really need to break this spiral or pointless outrage.

  6. V aka Frilly Keane

    Just to add to this
    I watched The Dig last evening, and tbh Carey’s character Edith Pretty was
    IMO anyway
    pretty lack lustre and wishywashy

    Don’t get me wrong its a nice fillum, and the story is one worth engaging with, so for that I would recommend it
    Just even to learn about the main character/ premise, kinda a biopic really of Basil Brown (carried off well by Ralph Fiennes btw)
    But I felt short changed by it all,
    Lily James’ character could have been cut out and left on editing suite floor and you wouldn’t have noticed
    That’s just me I suppose, I would have preferred if there was more about Basil Brown and the other ‘Digs’ he worked on over his lifetime as a third, whatever, generation archaeology excavator

    Basil Brown/ Ralph Fiennes is the star of the show imo, no one else matters in it from, start to finish, other than maybe his wife, May, played brilliantly by Monica Dolan

    Carey Mulligan’s Cassie in ‘A Promising Woman’ is Oscar stuff afaic

    but yet tis this simple classic easy part in ‘The Dig’ is the one they’ll probably be ok with shortlisting

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