‘Not too careful with the calories, Mindy?’Posted: November 29, 2011
That’s the takeaway sentence from this ridiculously condescending article from Vanity Fair’s December issue. In this iteration of John Heilpern’s recurring short feature, ‘Out to Lunch,’ Heilpern does that thing old white people are really good at: doling out compliments in the most unflattering way possible.
He wants us to know, right off the bat, that Mindy Kaling is “immensely gifted, and slightly nuts.”
Then, adhering to the tired trope of every celebrity profile, Heilperin describes her meal order in irritating detail. (Why he and other journalists in general do this is beyond me. I’ve never been even remotely curious as to what celebrities eat. Most of this has to do with the fact that they eat at restaurants that are so prohibitively expensive, I’m never familiar with any of the dishes the reporters are describing.)
Heilpern concludes the regurgitation of the menu with: ” She devoured the second course happily and requested jam to go with the toast.”
‘Devoured’? Really? And then, just in case I was willing to give his choice of verb the benefit of the doubt, Heilpern adds:
‘Not too careful with the calories, Mindy?’ I ventured.”
WHAT. FOR REAL? Did he really ask that? Goodness. She may play an immature girly girl on TV but she’s not a little girl. She’s a grown-ass woman. Dang, Heilpern.
Later on in the article, Heilpern asks Mindy if she’s going to cry, because everyone knows those are Mindy’s strongsuits, sobbing and compulsive overeating.
I hoped the condescending flattery pervading the article was just an affectation, a style that the advanced-in-years Heilpern adopted with all his subjects.
But then I read his other ‘Out to Lunch’ columns.
First off, it’s worth mentioning that most of his interview subjects are old white men. Oscar De La Renta, Ted Danson, Don Rickles. Perhaps he doesn’t have much practice interviewing young nonwhite women. Regardless, is it too much to ask for some basic civility? So sexistily condescending! (I know not a word, and I shouldn’t used adverbs, but I really can’t BELIEVE this article was published in its current form in 2011.)
I don’t know if Mindy took that article personally. (In both examples I pointed out in the article, Mindy responds with some sort of quippy joke.) But this tendency to write to strip celebrities down to a few good adjectives usually reduces Mindy to: fat, girly, Indian.
It gets old real quick and then it gets insulting. Those awkward, completely unnecessary sentences in every profile that try to say in a nice way that Mindy Kaling is not-skinny make me cringe on her behalf.
Time for a different angle, people. Please for the readers’ sake. And as Mindy inevitably gets more famous, these lazy journalists will have to change their tune. Jus’ sayin.’