A Hollywood Producer's One-Woman War Against... Sydney Sweeney's Looks?

Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Sydney Sweeney, according to longtime Hollywood producer Carol Baum, "isn't pretty and can't act," and them's fightin' words.

The fact is that Sweeney is drop-dead gorgeous. There's a reason that the entertainment industry and its assorted hangers-on plaster her image on every available screen, magazine cover, tweet, etc. In her public appearances — I'll get into her film and TV appearances momentarily — she embodies old-school Hollywood glamor, with her décolletage going all the way out to places where mere mortal women don't even have places.


Sweeney's good looks aren't subject to debate. They simply are — and I say that as a devoted leg man who prefers brunettes.

Honestly, I don't know whether Sweeney can act or not. I've never watched anything she's in. I understand that she's appeared topless more than once and, as a fan of that old-school Hollywood glamor, I wish she had left a bit more to the imagination. (It's also true that my 15-year-old self is/was going/has to invent/ed a time machine and travel 40 years into the future just to ask what the hell went wrong with me.)

I am, however, looking forward to seeing "Immaculate" when it hits streaming. It probably isn't for many readers of this site, but I have a longstanding love of Italian horror, no matter how uncomfortable, and "Immaculate" looks to be a modern take on '70s giallo

That brings us to Baum and her one-woman war on Sweeney. Baum has been producing movies for four decades now and presumably knows a thing or two about the business. I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't mention that she has two genuinely great movies in her long list of IMDB credits, two inexplicably (to me) big hits, and tons of forgettable fluff. 

Baum's first outing as the exec producer of a feature film was David Cronenberg's excellent "Dead Ringers" from 1988. It's maybe the most horrific thing Cronenberg has done, probably because he skipped the supernatural or sci-fi horror and went straight for the all-too-human drama. It also features one of the best performances by Geneviève Bujold and two of Jeremy Irons' best performances.


A few years later, Baum produced Sidney Lumet's "A Stranger Among Us" with Melanie Griffith.

To see Baum's name attached to those two movies but then more recent tween shows like Zendaya's "Zapped" from 2014 and Hallmark fluff like "Just in Time for Christmas" that you don't quite watch while wrapping presents, speaks volumes about her career trajectory. 

"There's an actress who everybody loves now – Sydney Sweeney," Baum complained. "I don't get Sydney Sweeney."

I doubt that a 40-year Hollywood vet doesn't "get" Sweeney's appeal.

Here's a little something from Page Six and you can make your own inferences.

More seriously, I do have concerns for Sweeney aside from the prurient. 

Just 26, she's worked her way up Hollywood's greasy pole, paying her dues with small roles before graduating to a couple of TV series and now, feature films. It's interesting that she first auditioned for "Immaculate" at 17 but the production fell apart before it started. But she was intrigued enough by the script to segue into the producer role herself, then got the film made starring herself.

Whatever her acting talents are, she's undeniably sharp and ambitious — and increasingly successful. And yet I find myself feeling sorry for Sweeney.

In addition to being objectified for her obvious endowments — particularly by the rotten industry in which she works — she's also an object of our increasingly ugly culture wars. She risks becoming persona non grata in Hollywood, now that "her looks [are] being used by right-wing commenters as a valid argument that 'woke is dead'."


If Sydney Sweeney so much as stumbles, that young woman is going to find her back full of knives — Baum's might have only been the first.

Recommended: NPR CEO Katherine Maher Is a Censor-Happy Parody of Wokeness

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