This is the first half of the most famous monologue from the play The Merchant of Venice, which William Shakespeare wrote all the way back in the 16th century. It’s delivered by a character named Shylock. I’m sure you remember it. He says:
“Hath not an ugly person eyes? Hath not an ugly person hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food as an attractive person, such as George Clooney or Idris Elba; hurt with the same weapons as an attractive person, such as Salma Hayek or Beyoncé; subject to the same diseases as an attractive person, such as Young Matt Damon or, in a pinch, even Old Matt Damon; healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as an attractive person is? … ”
Matthew McConaughey is a handsome man. He has a strong jawline. He has broad shoulders and a narrow waist. He has hair that’s cool, but not so cool that it’s overwhelming. He has eyes that move between smokey and insane, and that’s probably the best combination for eyes. He has nice teeth, and a nice forehead, and nice eyebrows, and nice stubble when he chooses to. Matthew McConaughey is a handsome man. Look at him:
In his new movie Gold, though, he is not a handsome man. He is balding; tiny amounts of thin, thin, cotton-candy-dense hair sit across the top of his head, or wherever the wind decides to push them, when it even bothers to notice them. He has a paunch, and he makes sure to wear it in the sloppiest way possible. He has rocky, uneven, yellowed teeth. He speaks in heavy, uncoordinated sentences, sloshing them around in desperate sighs and the decay of certain failure. His clothes are unappealing, and so is his posture. When I watched the trailer, I spent the whole time saying, “Wow, Matthew McConaughey really worked hard for this role.” Look at him:
Here’s the thing, though: I should not have been saying, “Wow, Matthew McConaughey really worked hard for this role.” Technically, it’s probably true — he probably did work hard to make himself look ugly. He probably ate poorly and didn’t exercise. But guess what? I know people who don’t have to work at all to make themselves ugly. Maybe you’ve heard of them? They’re called ugly people. And guess what else? They have feelings and rights and dreams, same as attractive people. Only you probably don’t care about those things, unless you happen to be an ugly person, in which case I want you to know that I stand with you, and for you, and that this is the beginning of YOUR MOMENT (or even “OUR MOMENT” if you see me on one of my three bad days of any given week).
Prior to this article, I’d been brainwashed. I’d been brainwashed into thinking how great it was, how noble it was, how dedicated an actor or actress had to be to turn himself or herself ugly for a role. Remember when Charlize Theron, who is otherwise perfect, turned herself ugly for Monster? Or when Jamie Foxx, who is otherwise perfect, turned himself ugly for The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Or when Ryan Gosling, who is otherwise perfect, turned himself ugly for Blue Valentine? Christian Bale in The Machinist? Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder (which probably not coincidentally featured McConaughey in a smaller role, so that’s probably when he decided this kind of behavior was okay)? Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Each of those times I saw them and thought the same as I did when I first saw McConaughey: “Oscars! Give them Oscars! Wow, wow, wow! What sacrifice!” And now? Now I think: What about the actual ugly people? Do they not deserve those roles?
And if not those roles — if not the roles of ugly people — then what roles? Because they aren’t being cast in the attractive people roles. That would be a sight. That would be real art. That would require real dedication and talent. Going from attractive to ugly is easy. Going from ugly to attractive, though — that’s like skiing uphill, although if you’re an ugly person you probably don’t even understand what that means, because ugly people aren’t even allowed to ski. (I went to Utah last month for a mini-vacation. Everywhere I looked it was nothing but thin, beautiful white people. I said to one of them — I said, “Hey, where are all the ugly people?” The man, perfectly chiseled, possibly Brad Pitt but probably not, said, “The what?” I said, “Aren’t you embarrassed by the anti-ugly segregation of skiing?” He said, “I am not anything, only beautiful,” and he was right, and then he skied away.)
Who will be the Cesar Chavez for ugly people? Who will rally them? Who will give them strength? Who will give them hope? Because they deserve those things, same as attractive people, and maybe even more so. Who will ugly-lift them up? Who will help them see that they are ugly-valuable, and that they have ugly-worth? Who will let them know that attractive people stealing ugly movie roles will be a thing we fight against from now on?
This will make you sad: The most famous ugly person in movies is probably Sloth, the deformed Fratelli brother in 1985’s The Goonies. I won’t link to his face here because I’m sure you remember what he looked like, but if you don’t know what he looks like, just know that he was incredibly, unbelievably unattractive. Do you know who played him? I’ll tell you who played him: a professional football player named John Matuszak. He was a total fucking hunk:
This is the second half of that quote from The Merchant of Venice from the beginning of this article:
“… If you prick an ugly person, do we not ugly-bleed? If you tickle an ugly person, do we not ugly-laugh? If you poison an ugly person, do we not ugly-die? And if you wrong an ugly person, shall we not ugly-revenge? … ”
Mark this moment.
This is it.
This is the beginning of ugly-revolution.
This the beginning of ugly-revenge.