Missing link between Sydney Sweeney and Nicola Sturgeon revealed by their detractors – Aidan Smith

Criticism of actor Sydney Sweeney and Nicola Sturgeon’s looks doesn’t impress Aidan Smith

It’s safe to say, I think, that the thing which connects Nicola Sturgeon with Sydney Sweeney is not immediately apparent. But we should remember never to underestimate how mean and nasty people can be.

One of these women has emerged from seemingly nowhere to become the hottest actress around and the other is… well, you know her well. One is the new queen of Hollywood, the other is the old queen of Holyrood. One is the Gen Z Marilyn Monroe, the other is Indyref’s Mary, Queen of Scots… or maybe it’s Miss Jean Brodie. In the last few days, though, their orbits have crossed over. They have both been attacked for how they look – by other women, as well. Sisterhood? It’s definitely had better weeks.

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Sweeney’s current omnipresence irritates film producer Carol Baum. Interviewed after a screening of one of the latter’s old movies, she said: “There’s an actress who everybody loves right now – Sydney Sweeney. I don’t get Sydney Sweeney.” Baum, who lectures at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Art, revealed she’d challenged her students to define, or more likely justify, Sweeney’s appeal: “I said: ‘Explain this girl to me. She’s not pretty, she can’t act. Why is she so hot?’ Nobody had an answer.”

Horribleness lurking within

Then, just as these remarks were being condemned, Scotland’s ex-First Minister was ambushed by reporters following the re-arrest of her husband. A photo of a harassed Sturgeon in her driveway made most front pages and from there onto social media where it drew the comment: “This is what someone looks like when they really do their hair by themselves and have no one to do their makeup. Is that two or three stones heavier?”

X, formerly Twitter, is a toilet which surely wasn’t the original intention. No one is surprised anymore by the horribleness lurking within, but this post didn’t come from the equivalent of the end of the bar or the back of the mob, or at least its sender would not appear to see themselves in that way. Higher aspiration is involved; you decide if it’s achieved.

Calling Sydney Sweeney 'not pretty' is wrong in every sense (Picture: David Livingston/Getty Images)Calling Sydney Sweeney 'not pretty' is wrong in every sense (Picture: David Livingston/Getty Images)
Calling Sydney Sweeney 'not pretty' is wrong in every sense (Picture: David Livingston/Getty Images)

She describes herself as a “pro-UK Scottish blogger”. Further investigation reveals a prolific output of “thoughts mainly about Scottish politics”. And there’s this invitation to potential contributors: “As long as you write in a reasoned way I’d be happy to read what you have to say.”

It hopefully hasn’t escaped your notice there is no mention of politics in the ridiculing of Sturgeon’s appearance, nor anything that’s “reasoned”. How is this OK? Moreover, why is a woman being so cruel about another woman? Why is a woman purportedly invested in politics saying such things about a female politician when women are often dissuaded from seeking office for fear of such abuse? A man would never get away with this.

We can criticise Sturgeon for many things. A lot has gone wrong for her and for the SNP and much of the opprobrium is warranted. What isn’t is being this snide and bitchy. She was photographed at what politically – and personally – must feel like her lowest ebb. Regarding the post, talk about kicking a person when they’re down.

Unlikely soul sister

Nicola Sturgeon is quizzed by reporters after the re-arrest of her husband, her appearance at her home prompting cruel comments.Nicola Sturgeon is quizzed by reporters after the re-arrest of her husband, her appearance at her home prompting cruel comments.
Nicola Sturgeon is quizzed by reporters after the re-arrest of her husband, her appearance at her home prompting cruel comments.

In turn, it got the kicking it deserved: “Detestable… misogynistic… vile” were typical responses, many of them from women. “Thought we didn’t negatively comment on a woman’s (or anyone’s) appearance these days. Thought we’d all grown up a bit,” said one. Hannah added: “Reduced to fat-shaming and insults about appearance. Not exactly well-constructed political criticism.” Kim said: “Appalled that someone would stoop so low to attack a woman in this way – shame!”

Now for Sturgeon’s unlikely potential soul sister, though if these two were ever to form an alliance I’d want the exclusive interview, having brought them together in print: at a quick glance, Sweeney can seem like a throwback all-American girl parlaying the voluptuous glamour of a bygone age. Remember Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC, battling dinosaurs in a mammoth-hide bikini? Sweeney is reckoned to be returning us to that time – and its attendant attitudes – after what has seemed like one million years of PC.

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Her breasts have been idealised, fetishised, weaponised and politicised, with one American cultural commentator suggesting they could be “double-D harbingers of the death of woke”. The sexualisation of Sweeney is an actual debate. Other actresses who’ve been sexualised in the past are pressed for their views, most recently Megan Fox. Her directors, such as Michael Mohan, feel obliged to say things like: “I don’t want to be known as the guy who makes movies where Sydney gets naked.”

Acting with her eyes

Sweeney plays up to her old-school, sex-bomb image, which has probably annoyed Baum some more. She would appear to feel cornered by the actress’s boobs, as if they have a fiendish, cartoon life of their own (Sweeney jokes about this, too). But I’m sorry… no actually, I won’t apologise: calling her “not pretty” is wrong in every sense – unjustified and inaccurate – as is claiming she can’t act.

Baum was underwhelmed by the romcom Anyone But You. My 15-year-old daughter loved it and she’s the target audience. But what about, on TV, The White Lotus and especially Euphoria, the wild teen drama I don’t allow the 15-year-old to watch? Brilliantly brutal Emmy-winning performances.

Then, back on the big screen, there’s been Reality, the true story of the interrogation of the whistleblower who leaked a classified document detailing Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Sweeney acts mostly with her eyes – no other body parts are as prominent – and stays drably buttoned-up. When the FBI arrive at her front door, one of the agents says: “You didn’t seem surprised when we turned up.” Sweeney quips: “That’s just because of my resting bitch face.”

A good line, and maybe Sturgeon should have repeated it when confronted by that hack-pack.



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