“What else would explain the magnificence of Angelina Jolie, with her streaming tresses, the two and a half hectares of scarlet lip gloss required to cover her mouth, and, most telling of all, the single, flawless leg that was permitted to emerge from the slit of her long skirt and planted cockily in full view? She was merely doling out the screenplay awards, but her pose bore a definite, don’t-fuck-with-me trace of the gunslinger, and so it was, across the time zones, that a billion people sat there with their hands up: Freeze. I have seen nothing like it, in terms of the power to strike dumb and stupefy, since Jack Nicholson, introducing a tribute to Michelangelo Antonioni, showed the scene from “Zabriskie Point” in which a television set explodes into a thousand angry shards. That was Oscar night, 1994. Those were the days.”—
Hunh. See, now, my reaction to the leg-slit contrapposto pop was very different. I didn’t “freeze” with awe and stupefaction so much as cringe with distaste, and with something closer to, well, pity. The whole schtick actually didn’t come across as cocky to me, maybe because it was so forced.
Is it possible that she really finds herself that magnificent? The fact that she would strive so gauchely to convey that she does suggests that she really doesn’t. To me, she looked frighteningly underfed, and seemed a little disoriented as she stumbled over her lines. She was trying too hard, we were seeing her sweat, and that seemed to foreshadow the inevitable decline of her dynastic celebrity brand. To be more charitable, we were just glimpsing a human fragility in her, evidence that she was “like us,” awkward and insecure. But the most powerful form of celebrity is premised on a supposed, Olympian freedom from concern and from trying. If your fans start feeling sorry for you, I suspect they’ll soon stop worshiping you.
What’s worse, they’ll stop buying you, i.e. your magazines and movies. Then again, they’ll keep buying if you manage to transition from the aspirational, impossible-perfection phase of tabloid celebrity to the “late-Whitney” phase, where your “fans” revel in your downfall, your degradation. In the first phase, you tantalize us with longing and with a sweet dissatisfaction with our own lot in life; in the second, you confirm the relative safety and moral solidity of our social perch. We want people to admire and look up to, but we also want—maybe more so—people to look down on and despise.
I’ll admit to feeling a certain satisfaction when those Descendants writers brought Angelina down a notch with their impression of “The Leg.” But then I’ve never really understood the appeal of Jolie’s brand of severe, alien beauty. I’ve always found her looks and her look-at-me behavior to be, like last night’s performance, exaggerated and put-on. Fake, basically. “Hollywood,” in other words.
“…the pretense that college football is a character-building endeavor. Rather it’s an odious money-grubbing racket that chews up and spits out quasi-professional players who, with rare exceptions, only pretend to be students. It corrupts everyone connected with it. College football is little more than a giant conduit for vacuuming money out of alumni, hawking brand merchandise, and generating TV revenues.”—James Howard Kunstler (via azspot)
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”