It’s kind of a complicated story, but Brian Clark at Movieline breaks it down for us:
You may recall that Justin Long quoted Michelle Orange’s scathing Movieline review of Going the Distance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Now, Orange has written a thoughtful piece about the whole experience and how it relates to writing and criticism… and guess who responded in the comments?
Yes, Justin Long himself not only posted a well-written, ego-free response to Orange’s review and her recent piece (which is very insightful and worth reading in its entirety), but also professed admiration for Orange’s entire body of writing…
Before we get to Long’s comments, this is part of what Orange wrote in her review of Going the Distance:
I mean my loins gird whenever Long is on screen. How a milky, affectless mook with half-formed features and a first day of kindergarten haircut might punch several classes above his weight is a mystery, as my colleague pointed out in her review of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, we are increasingly asked to accept on screen.
I’m complaining about that more and more myself all the time, though I don’t see the problem with Long: I think he’s adorable. I don’t think it’s at all a mismatch to pair him up with Drew Barrymore. But Orange does, and that’s her perogotive.
So: these are the choice bits from Long’s comment in response to Orange’s essay at The Rumpus about being a critic and sometimes being mean in the process:
Michelle, I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d get to be in one movie, let alone several over the course of the last ten years – never had any delusions of grandeur. I always wanted to be a theatre actor like my mom, always assuming the movie roles were relegated to the good looking people. Which is not to say my Mom’s not good looking – she’s beautiful (though clearly it’s all subjective – you are not a fan of our gene pool so you might not agree) – she just had kids and never got that “lucky break”. Then I started idolizing guys like Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Sam Rockwell, Woody Allen, and Philip Seymour Hoffman – I found myself relating (I hope you’re not wincing at my use of that word now) to them and formulating some wild fantasy of one day pursuing a career in movie acting – if guys that looked like that could do it, I thought, maybe this milky mook could role the dice. So while there’s no defense for my performance in the movie (everyone is obviously entitled to their opinion), I have to say, I’m surprised by the amount of stock you seem to invest in my looks. I absolutely agree with you too, I’d be hard-pressed to hold a candle to even a fraction of Drew’s beauty – in my humble opinion, she’s the most beautiful girl in the world. Is that a message you want to proliferate though? That people of higher aesthetic echelons should stick to their own? Maybe you’re frustrated because it so rarely works the other way – I don’t remember the last time I was asked to accept a female romantic lead who was “punching above her weight class” – though it does happen (I just don’t want to name names at the risk of offending – I leave that to the experts). I suppose if it were more commonplace though you, as a woman, wouldn’t be so offended and might have taken it a bit easier in pointing out the disparity of our looks in “going the distance”.
It’s nice to see a male actor acknowledge that he’s getting a far better deal than female actors get. That said, it’s hard to imagine a female movie star taking a male critic to task for criticizing her looks… which male critics do all the damn time. Maybe some of those women should look into pulling a Justin Long on them…