Drew Barrymore‘s conversation with Stephen Colbert on the March 19 Late Show episode kicked off with her reminiscing about famously flashing his predecessor, David Letterman, during a 1995 appearance — but it may be her comments from Monday night that people won’t let her live down.
Barrymore — who wept as she told her followers to “fight” during this year’s Women’s March — was asked by Colbert for her take on #MeToo and the renewed focus on “female empowerment, diversity, and inclusion.”
While Barrymore initially praised the movement, she admitted to having a couple of reservations: Women shouldn’t be angry, and they shouldn’t “expect things to be handed” to them.
“I think it’s phenomenal, and overdue, and wonderful, and the only thing I ever have a personal thing about is tone,” the actress told Colbert. “I don’t want anything to have a tone of anger. I know people say anger is healthy. I have a dark side that’s … a huge chasm, but I’ve never been an angry person.
“I never expected people to hand me anything, and I never expected them to believe in me. I had to create enough homework and data to show and prove to them. … So I hope for people that they won’t do it with anger and expectation, because what you really have to do is prove that you are capable. And what’s important about this time is those doors opening for these people.”
Barrymore, who has been acting since childhood, cited her experience with starting her Flower Films production company at age 19. She claimed that, at the time, female studio heads were “almost trying to be men about it and we’re like, ‘We’re just girls.'”
Barrymore argued that she succeeded because she was able to prove her value and ability, and urged other women to focus on that. She acknowledged that her remarks could be seen as “taboo.”
“I think it’s important for women to work hard at their dreams and to do it without anger, and I know that this is a taboo thing to say in this time because it’s ignited by anger,” she added. “So I guess maybe there’s a healthy anger and unhealthy anger, but I can assure you that if you have the abilities and you stay positive and you don’t expect things to be handed to you but you really work towards them, all the greatness will come. Because I was never treated like a little girl who couldn’t do it. Maybe I had to earn it, but earning is OK.”
The Late Show studio audience broke into applause as she urged everyone to “take the tireless and capable approach, and never stop working.”
Her comments weren’t quite as popular on social media, however. Many argued that the former childhood star missed the mark, and failed to acknowledge her privilege as a famous white woman who happens to hail from one of Hollywood’s most legendary acting dynasties.
“Tone? If people want to be angry (or sad) for what happened to them that was out of their control, let them,” read one YouTube comment. “Your experiences are not universal; no one has to react exactly the same as you would.”
“Barrymore seems to be tone-policing the new generation of women creators — which just happens to include more women of color,” added another viewer. “She implies that these up-and-coming creators are not only inappropriately angry but also expect things to be handed to them. She seems to think everyone should adopt her cutesy ‘I’m just a girl’ approach. If that worked for her back in the ’90s, fine. But she shouldn’t be reprimanding women who are more direct or even pissed off at being unfairly treated.”
“I don’t really know what she means by her building herself as an actress through ‘homework’ and ‘data’ since she was a child star and a member of the famous Barrymore acting family,” another critic noted.
I'm not sure I can take Drew Barrymore on Colbert talking about how women should just work really hard and not be angry and we'll get everything we want, because it's worked for her.
— Just No. (@revstacey) March 20, 2018
I would take @DrewBarrymore seriously on @colbertlateshow if she wasn't the literal scion of one of the oldest acting families in Hollywood. Pretty sure that last name opened a lot more doors than her "earning it" and not being angry.
— bridgealidget (@bridgealidget) March 20, 2018
Drew Barrymore asks women who have been assaulted and discriminated against because they were women not to be angry, work harder and don’t expect things to be handed to them! Thanks Drew! That was enlightening. #tonedeaf
— Maya (@Maya_June_Sh) March 20, 2018
Oh Drew Barrymore you are so tone deaf it's not even funny
— Samantha Drennan (@sldrennan1) March 20, 2018
Barrymore has not yet responded to the criticism.
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