July 18, 2008

In Defense of the Femme Fatale

What do we really want our daughters to be? This is an important question. The war between Team Jolie and Team Anistan is as violent as ever, more than three years after Brad Pitt chose to spend his life as Jolie's partner and father to her children. He made that personal choice. Only someone in a marriage can walk out on a marriage, and yet Angelina is still villified on blogs and in magazine polls. Yes, if one listens to the readers of US weekly, Jen is the better friend and the better person. She's portrayed as the girl we'd rather hang out with, but why? This is the question I keep asking myself.

Why don't we want our daughters to be like Angelina over Aniston? What on earth makes Jennifer Aniston anything other than totally useless? Why is she a role-model and icon, and why can one sexual decision on the part of Angelina (the one she made regarding accepting the love of a man who'd already left his wife) does that negate Angelina's many talents and contributtions to the world? Angelina has won an oscar. She has won more than one Golden Globe. She is very talented. Aniston is famous for being on a citcom where the show's greatest asset was its hilarious, easily delivered writing, not its actors. In the talent department, Angelina wins. She's in movies that matter about women who make us think. Aniston is in Rob Reiner flops like Rumour Has It.
Angelina gives one third of her multi-million dollar salary to charity each year. Does Aniston give? Well, if she does at all, not this much. Angelina donates countless hours of her time to her work as a UN good-will ambassador and discussing international law in interviews, or even writing pieces for such high-brow magazines as The Economist. Does Aniston even know what international law is? If so, she seems to prefer talking about herself in interviews rather than the plight of developing nations.
Finally, Angelina is a good and devoted mother. What more could we want for our daughters than for them to be good to their daughters, as well? In everything every virtue I can think of - talent, generosity, maternal aptitude - Angelina wins. So why do we hate her? Is it because she's beautiful? Perhaps. Is it because we secretly blame the other woman every time a marriage or relationship breaks down even when she's not the moral agent? Yes, I think that's it. It's because when men are jerks and leave us, walking out on all we have, we don't want to believe we devoted our lives to assholes or that they've just callously fallen out of love with us, we want to believe the other woman is a witch who cast a spell and tricked him. We want to blame her to save ourselves from the ugly truth. Angelina has come to represent the other woman in our sexist society, where all the good one does is erased the moment one sleeps with someone society arbitrarily decides one shouldn't touch. Our world is so sexist. Brad left Jennifer because he fell in love with a spectacular woman. How is that Angelina's fault? I will never understand.

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