sexual harassment

Rose McGowan’s ‘Citizen Rose’ review: ‘Do I make you uncomfortable? Good.’

Though silly and promotional in parts, the series is powerful in the way that the actress and Harvey Weinstein accuser chooses to tell her story.

Rose McGowan is very angry – and she wants the world to know.

The actress and activist has been one of the most vocal critics of Hollywood’s systemic sexism. She was one of the first people to speak up against film producer Harvey Weinstein, who now stands accused of sexual assault by more than 80 women. McGowan has taken her campaign forward through her recently launched memoir, Brave, and her documentary series Citizen Rose. The show was premiered on January 30 on E! network and will be followed by four more episodes over the next few months.

“I cannot tell you how enraged I am,” she says in the beginning of the episode. “Because it’s not just about me. It’s about anybody that’s ever been disbelieved.”

The episode offers a no-holds-barred glimpse into McGowan’s life in the days after she spoke up against Weinstein. It takes you back to the morning when the alleged rape happened – in 1997, at the Sundance Film Festival – and then into McGowan’s house, her room, her bathroom (she often directly speaks into the camera while sitting fully clothed in a bathtub, for reasons unclear) and into intimate and troubling corners of her life.

Play
Citizen Rose.

The series is powerful in all that McGowan says and doesn’t say. For instance, she refuses to take Weinstein’s name, constantly referring to him as “the Monster”. “I don’t like saying his name. The monster that is,” she explains. “He doesn’t deserve it. Doesn’t deserve my acknowledgement. You are beneath humanity. You don’t even get a name. Loser.”

Weinstein is not named in entirety even once in the episode. The montage of news coverage on the scandal beeps his surname out each time, referring to him only as Harvey. In every photograph, a black strip covers his eyes.

Her target is not only the disgraced producer, or the many others who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the days following the Weinstein scandal, but the culture of sexism in Hollywood as a whole.

McGowan, who was born into the Children of God sect, where her father was an influential figure, says she was taken from one cult into another – Hollywood. Both are abusive, she explains. In Children of God, the women worshipped men, opening them up to abuse. The male-dominated Hollywood industry is not very different, where women are sexualised and infantilised. “You get turned into a human Barbie doll,” she says.

Play
Citizen Rose.

Over the course of the episode, McGowan also touches upon various aspects of her personal life, including her strained relationship with her parents. McGowan says her father looked at himself as a god and she regarded him as human, which is why they never saw eye-to-eye. But in the years before his death, they grew close. We see the unresolved strains in their relationship play out when she visits his grave and apologises to him for not coming on a previous instance, because she was too mad at him.

Such moments makes you feel less a viewer and more a voyeur, someone who is not just looking at the family’s dirty linen but actively sorting through it. This is intentional. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” McGowan says at the start of the episode. “Good.”

But even as she lets the narrative go into uncomfortable spaces and into her many emotional troughs, McGowan is firmly in charge (she is one of the executive producers on the show). This is likely to prompt a healthy skepticism in the viewer. McGowan sees herself, her art, her work as part of a larger cause and movement. You see McGowan as the wild child who refuses to tread the line, McGowan who is fierce and brave and McGowan the activist who is spearheading a movement with universal resonance, in ways that sometimes reflect self-importance.

Yet, the show is powerful. After being a public figure without control over how she was portrayed, Rose McGowan is reinserting herself into the public eye, but on her own terms.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.

Play

To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.