Rose McGowan on the 'cult' of Hollywood: 'Most films are telling you what men want'

Rose McGowan is familiar with cults. Born in Italy, her American parents were part of The Children Of God and her father was even a cult leader within the organization.

"I would watch him wire people’s minds and he was really good at it," she tells AnOther. "And I know how to unwire them. I’m really good at that. I don’t do it for personal gain. It’s a strange compulsion. It’s not easy. It’s incredibly isolating. There’s not a lot of reward for it, but you know, I’m playing for history."

The 45-year-old Scream star has been in the entertainment industry for over two decades and believes she was once part of a "dangerous" machine.

"Hollywood is a particularly dangerous cult because it gives us a mirror which distorts how we see ourselves," she adds.

Actor Rose McGowan attends the GQ Men of the Year Awards at the Tate Modern in London, Britain, September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

"We sit down and watch these films with our brains open and it becomes a messaging system for the mind. You can still enjoy movies, but just look at what they’re telling you. See it for what it is, recognize the models it’s forming in your brain," she continues. "Recognize that most films are telling you what men want. Women in Hollywood support the male-dominated power structure too. I just got a script sent to potentially direct, it was written by a woman and the first section describes one of the characters as 'She’s Victoria’s Secret. She’s perfect.' Haha. Are you kidding? Don’t participate in this bulls**t because it’s toxic."

The Brave author, who has been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement, hopes to encourage people "to unwire their minds from prescribed thinking."

"It’s a practice I learnt from a very young age. Growing up in Children of God, they were intent on making you believe what they believed," she says. "The problem was, like in many religions, their actions didn’t square up with their words. One of the few good things about Children of God was that they really encouraged intellectualism and learning. [But] with all that learning, I didn’t understand why I had to believe in their God."

McGowan continues, "I used to get in trouble all the time. I lit a wall of Bibles on fire, I lit a whole barn on fire. I was mad at being forced to believe something that didn’t make sense to me. I think that experience helped me see how society duplicates cult-like structures of its own."

The Planet 9 performer was sent to America from Italy at age 10.

"I still remember, on my first day of school in America, they made me hold my hand on my heart in front of the whole class and sing the Pledge of Allegiance. I thought that was bulls*** and I still think it’s bulls***," she states. "Gender roles, class structures, people think society is somehow different from these cults, but it’s not. If you’re in a structure that doesn’t benefit you because of your race, or gender or income or whatever, you’re basically in a cult."

McGowan said schools "are engaged in this program of making us conform."

"I’d always been angry at being classified as a girl. The second I shaved my head it led to this glitch in the Matrix," she notes. "It’s not what a traditional woman is supposed to look like. I’ve been saying the same things for years, but all of a sudden people could hear it. Just by me not looking like a traditional woman."

The entertainer also clarified what she meant when she identified herself as non-binary.

"It’s been said that I’ve said I’m non-binary. But what I mean by that is that I’m non-binary of thought," she explains. "If people place value in labels because it gives them a sense of community, go right ahead. I have great respect for people who fight for their identity. It’s just not my thing, to be labeled, to be a part of a group. I’ve had queer relationships, I’ve had non-traditional relationships, but I just want to be myself. I embrace non-binary thought. It’s a theme that runs through all my work – my performances, my book, my music, my film-making – how we need to unwire our minds. How we should strive for freedom from the cult."

McGowan, who accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her in 1997, will be across the pond in Edinburgh when the disgraced producer's sexual assault trial starts next month.

“When I was going through the whole Weinstein fight, that was just a nightmare. It almost snapped my brain. It took every ounce of strength that I had," she recalls. "I came to take out the trash and to push the reset button on society. ... So many people have been molested, so many people have been abused, people have such shame about stuff that’s been done to them as kids and I’m just here to say it’s not your fault. It doesn’t make it a pleasant conversation, but sometimes we have to have unpleasant conversations."

She adds, "We should be trying to restore the dignity of abused people, not degrade them simply because they looked up and said the sky is blue. You get punished for speaking the truth."

However, the Jawbreaker star believes "things are improving."

"A lot of men come up to me and thank me or say it’s really cool what you’re doing. People probably wouldn’t expect that," she reveals. "We can get to the other side of this. Get to a place culturally where it’s a new normal. When you grow up, sometimes your legs hurt, but you know what? You get taller. We just need to remember that sometimes you can cut off the head, you don’t have to nibble at the ankles of power."

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