Last week I went to a screening of “American Pastoral,” Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, and he was on hand to answer some questions afterward.

There were a number of “problems” with the film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Philip Roth, but one thing in particular struck me. Someone in the audience pointed out that most of the people he knew who were radical anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War era were smart. They were intellects, and this man was surprised that the character of Merry was “dumbed down” (his words) in the film. Her dialogue was actually silly, and it was hard to watch Dakota Fanning deliver a good performance despite such bad dialogue.

The response from Ewan McGregor was more disturbing.

After assuring the audience that they had worked hard to be true to the story as written in the novel, McGregor went on to tell this man that the book “dumbed down” Merry even more. He said that in the book she was overweight and “even crazier.”

So Ewan, my question is this: do you equate weight with intelligence? And why wouldn’t you have Merry gain weight, as the book did? Now THAT would have been interesting.

For anyone who has read the articles (New York Magazine, September 16, 2016, The Wrap, September 17, 2016, People, October 5, 2016) about Amy Schumer being told that women in Hollywood needed to weigh under 140 pounds in order not to hurt anyone’s eyes, McGregor’s remarks may not surprise you. McGregor not only buys into that but personally equates weight with intelligence, and for me, that is a bigger problem than those who equate weight with being sexy.

For years, women have fought the notion that fat was ugly. Now fat is stupid? Don’t buy into it.

-Dana Offenbach


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