Does Harry Styles Deserve Olivia Wilde's Praise?

Does Harry Styles Deserve Olivia Wilde's Praise?

Does Harry Styles Deserve Olivia Wilde's Praise?

The bar for men in Hollywood is on the floor.

The bar for men in Hollywood is on the floor.

Text: Siena Ballotta Garman

Filming has wrapped for the upcoming movie Don't Worry Darling, and director Olivia Wilde took to Instagram to deliver some admiring words about her collaborators on the project. Harry Styles, who plays the role of Jack, received an especially glowing paragraph that has caused some to question the low standards for men in Hollywood. Shia LaBeouf was initially cast as Jack, but Wilde fired him before filming due to his "poor behavior." Wilde's Instagram caption positions Styles as the man who swooped in to save the day.

It's certainly a good thing that Styles carried himself with more professionalism than LaBeouf, but some feel that the post is gratuitous. Wilde praises Styles for his willingness to cede attention to a female lead, writing: "No joke, it is harrrrrd to find actors who recognize why it might be worth it to allow for a woman to hold the spotlight." But Florence Pugh, who plays the leading role of Alice, is a professional actress, whereas Styles is primarily a musician. He's acted before, including a role in the 2017 film Dunkirk, but in terms of his career, a supporting role seems like a logical step. "He [Styles] didn’t have to join our circus, but he jumped on board with humility and grace," Wilde continued.

Harry Styles and Florence Pugh on set. Copyright BACKGRID.

Humility and grace are great professional qualities, on set or anywhere else. The problem here is that we often lavish praise on men for doing what women would simply be expected to do. (Consider every actress who has taken a lesser role – or lesser pay – than her male peers.) It's been speculated that Wilde and Styles are dating, but this is less about their personal lives and more about a pervasive culture of misogyny. The fact is that there are so many men like LaBeouf, for whom basic decency is not a given, that when Styles shows up and does his job, it is a relief. If we want to build a world where men are expected to embody humility, grace, and professionalism, we should start by holding them to the same standards as the women they work with.

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