Launching today, Chloe Grace Moretz is heading a three-part series “in which she aims to challenge the current perception about what a “gamer” is,” according to Mashable’s report. ScreenRant suggests the series is “intended to highlight the involvement of girls in the gaming community,” suggesting perhaps that her series may bring a Hollywood spotlight to other girls and women already present in, and behind, video gaming.
Little information on which, or what exactly, the gendered framing of the show will be is forthcoming, and there’s no time to establish that. Nevertheless this looks to me like a fine use of her time — although the two minute trailer released by Alienware also suggests there could be better ones. Giving young, famous women projects in which they can elevate the skills, achievements and presence of other women, or even simply model those things in underrepresented fields, is a necessary thing to do in a world and an entertainment industry that provides very little basic support for the rejection of internalised misogyny. Allowing a single girl into a roomful of industry boys — Moretz plays Rocket League against a panel of young, male Let’s Players — is not quite so impactful as allowing a girl to bring a camera and fame’s glamour to an industry woman who usually finds those wanting. As Moretz says to Forbes:
“Not to sound like social media is the be all, end all, but I do think it is in a big part thanks to the fact that social media and the press have rallied behind young women and women in film”
The lines are hazy, but video game commentary creators are regarded in the same “just like us (but wow-er)” light as social media stars, and are afforded much of the authority of the press.
Chloe Grace Moretz is an interesting choice for this project. Unsurprisingly she’s a gamer in her own time (who among us isn’t?), and undeniably, she’s famous for acknowledging the role that gender plays in forming media narratives. Moretz is nineteen years old, has been an object of international fame since she was eleven or so, and prides herself on two things: outspoken feminism and personal integrity. Moretz has not managed to avoid hypocrisy in her public statements, or manoeuvre her stated American feminism flawlessly. Her inability to articulate detailed media criticism, such as the diegetic difference she perceives, or perceived, in her own bikini-clad home photography versus Kardashian’s March nude bathroom selfie has done her no favours. Chloe Grace Moretz is a very young woman who wants to be a force for good and who does not yet, or did not in May, understand all the ways in which one must simultaneously avoid being a force for confusion or dismay.
Moretz is getting it wrong because she’s trying. She is getting it wrong; she needs to learn, and to repair the holes that got worn in her Celebrity Feminist rep. A series that parses feminism as “girls and women being allowed to do things that only boys and men allegedly do” is a good return to basics: she does prize open the gateway, simply by being present as an extra #female, and she is not required to make any rhetorically articulate speeches about extremely delicate structures (such as “how body positivity can truly exist in capitalism”) or respond to modes of being she does not understand. She has, ideally, time to simply exist. “Chloe Grace Moretz, pro-woman, groundbreaker” is allowed to stand as her essential status. Would that we all had the chance.
To Glamour: “Now that I’m able to get projects funded, curate scripts, and make movies, it means a lot to me to go against gender norms.”
There’s not really such thing as celebrities who are deserving of a pass while they learn what they should and shouldn’t say, or as they learn how to think with educated compassion; if we fail at being kind or respectful we have failed and should attempt to repair what we have broken. There is perhaps room to hope for positive gains from a celebrity on a mission if that mission is supported in ways that make up for her fallibility. A nineteen year old woman who is uncomfortable with a thirty-five year old’s expression of sexual confidence through an aesthetic which, in composite, fits quite precisely within oppressive modes of female role delineation and aesthetic demand is making an internal observation — a nineteen year old woman who makes the mistake of trying to scold that thirty-five year old for existing in context is mistaken; she is rude. She messed up. She is in a position that invites her to — and it’s a shame.
To Nylon: “I’ve had certain projects tell me I need to wear push-up bras because I’m an A-cup, or I’ve been told I don’t have a pronounced-enough jaw, that I have a moon face. When I was younger I really took it to heart.”
To Den of Geek: “I don’t cuss in my own time. It’s not a thing that I do. I was talking to my brother about it, and I said that it’s affecting me so much more now than when I was younger. Now it’s like, ugh, getting into my head as a normal thing to do.”
First, there’s patriarchy — we all have to escape that. And then there’s the strange position of being a family-focused child star with a “very Christian” upbringing, an actress in a sexist industry, a girl with a plastic surgeon father who explosively left the family when Moretz was thirteen, and onlookers’ narratives that are repressive in ways that can, and are supposed to be, be mistaken for approving.
The Independent: “Dressed in a pleated pink shirt, short-sleeved grey jumper dotted with pearls and a pair of navy Chanel heels […] Again, you’re not likely to catch Moretz in flesh-baring outfits that leave little to the imagination; she seems too classy for that Hollywood pitfall.”
Indiewire: “The highly motivated Moretz is basically the anti-Miley Cyrus. Nothing frivolous or sensationalized about her approach to work.”
Complex: “She has long earned respect as one of the serious young actresses—not just a fresh, pretty face taking up screen space—by capitalizing on roles that counteract the innocence and sweetness attributed to her because of her age and exuberant looks.
We’ve never watched her slip up the way an 18-year-old Lindsay Lohan did;
But then there’s the other side of the coin—she really is 19, and is going through many of the things everyone her age deals with: self-discovery and the onslaught of emotions that comes with that, burgeoning sexuality, and the sort of experimentation and wading through personal relationships that partially defines young adulthood. She was admittedly ‘asexual’ early on in her teen years [literally why would you say this?? –CN]—awkward and insecure—but has grown bolder with age.”
To Glamour: I get called prudish. […] Yeah, of course. I get called names for not showing myself off.
Moretz’ primary support network is her immediate family (four brothers and her mother, having a minimal relationship with her divorced father. Besides the personal, one brother is her acting coach, another is her business manager) and she professes herself, due to the fame-based sale of her confidences and more regular problems of difference, slow to trust social peers. This nineteen year old girl, this nineteen year old woman, needs opportunities in which she can learn, hone her approach, and discover how to be the force for good she wants to be. She needs employers and co-producers and business partners who will let her become the wise woman, the every-sister, that she wants to be.
NY Times: “Via e-mail Teri Moretz wrote that criticism of her or her daughter did not hurt her. ‘We know who we are and what we believe, so we don’t listen to other people’s opinions,’ she wrote.”
If she keeps failing, we can keep telling her that. But I hope Dell and Alienware and Rooster Teeth allow her the space she needs, while they’re giving her the space they need to use her. Fame. To use her fame.
(To use her.)