McGowan’s book will not be the best book about the Weinstein scandal, but it may be the most visceral. Anger burns from every page ... But the problem with burning everything down is that it all becomes an indistinguishable pile of ash. The misogyny of gossip blogger Perez Hilton is a worthy target for McGowan; that actors occasionally have to perform wedding scenes is not ... This reads like a book written by a woman driven to near derangement by decades of abuse and gaslighting. At times I wished McGowan could filter her anger, highlighting the real abuses as opposed to folding them in among the generalised sexist garbage. But if she had been able do that she probably wouldn’t have written this book: self-control isn’t helpful when you are kicking down doors. McGowan set out to write a book that examines abuse, and she has done just that. She has also, inadvertently, shown how much damage abuse can wreak in even the toughest of women.
Much of Brave reads like the diary of a woman driven half-mad by abusive men who assume no one will listen to her ... This bitter history clearly left a mark, and her book is furious and profane, wild and a little unhinged...There’s no glamour in Brave, and very little joy; I’ve never read anything that makes being a starlet sound so tedious and demeaning ... Her sense of martyrdom can be a bit much; she writes of feeling 'robbed' by having to get married on TV before her real wedding ... For most adult readers, it won’t be much of a revelation that Hollywood trades in distortion and exploitation. But I hope Brave finds its way into the hands of teenage girls who may still look to actresses as they try to figure out how they’re supposed to be in the world, girls who aspire to the life McGowan once had.
Brave may not reflect these broader conversations, but it is a valuable and damning insider view of an industry that has violated women for way too long ... Although there are enough shocking details to satisfy the gossip-hungry, the book transcends the typical celebrity tell-all. It is a Hollywood takedown ... Brave is written with a crackling intensity that indirectly demands readers examine their own complicity and media consumption ... Although Brave is framed as a call to arms, when McGowan directly addresses readers with her manifesto the message feels superfluous. Brave’s real power is the shouting voice of a woman whose stories have been silenced for way too long.
Brave will appeal in two ways: it is a celebrity memoir, and although McGowan’s insistence on her own inner strength and superior intelligence can be exhausting, she dishes some good dirt, especially for those who grew up during her indie-darling phase. But it is also a fierce, sometimes dryly funny calling out of the hypocrisy and misogyny of Hollywood ... The book may be self-promotional at times, but it is also a battle cry.
...while parts of Brave are routinely written, at her best the author vividly captures a concrete image or a moment amid the swirl of this harsh life ... Those Miramax-distributed movies [Grindhouse & Planet Terror], she believes, 'are salacious, but as female-exploitation flicks go, they’re pretty great art; they’re punk and (expletive) up. But yes, objectification was on high. And so was intense abuse of women, both in reality and symbolically.' The most vital material in Brave focuses McGowan’s complicated disgust on this issue.
'Brave' is in part an exploration and explanation of the rage constantly leaking out of McGowan’s pores. But her aim is not to engender sympathy — rather it’s to encourage those feeling disempowered to channel some of her plentiful anger.
At times, Brave reads like the ravings of a conspiracy theorist determined to convince untold flocks of sheeple that they’ve been force-fed poison since birth...These observations would sound insane if they didn’t contain essential truths wrapped up in their tinfoil hyperbole ... Brave contains several passages that would make even an amateur progressive activist cringe ... These missteps could theoretically present an opportunity to learn and grow in public, a natural win for someone like McGowan, who seems to be selling her vulnerability in the way most celebrities capitalize on an image of unflappable poise. But McGowan doesn’t demonstrate any interest in sincerely grappling with the diversity of experiences she’ll be expected to represent if she becomes the feminist superstar she wants to be.
In truth, the book doesn’t function well as a memoir: It’s rambling and nonlinear, maddeningly vague in places, and often requires the reader to consult Google or Wikipedia to figure out exactly what’s going on. But Brave works beautifully as a manifesto. It’s a call to arms — not just against the specific men who mistreated McGowan and the men and women who enabled that mistreatment, but against an industry that, in her words, 'creates a [expletive] up mirror for you to look in.'”
The disconnect between what McGowan expected from the meeting [with Weinstein] and what she experienced is heartbreaking, and it resonates with our current national reckoning on workplace harassment and assault ... While McGowan can be sanctimonious and self-aggrandizing, young women, particularly the celebrity-obsessed, have much to gain by reading Brave.”