|Angelina Jolie Photo: Jody Brettkelly, Berlin Film Festival|
On Tuesday in an Op-ed titled "My Medical Choice" for The New York Times, Jolie wrote that she has spent the last three months undergoing a preventative double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. She'd lost her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, to breast cancer at age 56 and after learning from doctors of her own elevated risk of both breast and ovarian cancers (at 87 percent and 50 percent, respectively), elected to undergo the major surgery for the sake of herself and her children.
I wondered today what I could add to all the voices. In the Bay Area, one in seven women (and in some parts one in five!) get breast cancer so it's something that is very much part of our lives or our friends' lives.
Angelina's decision is one I hope we could all make. Some have said it's not really "brave" because it's the only decision you could make but I've seen friends who've had reconstructive surgery and it's a bitch. Those same friends have told me that Angelina's statement has really helped them come to terms with it. (On the other hand, is some of what underlies the "Angelina's so brave" comments is that she's beautiful and so the sacrifice and pain counts for more? I hope not.)
One thing that's always fascinated me about Angie, as she's apparently called by her friends, is that usually she's seen as not relatable.
Why is that? "It's great she made this statement, but otherwise she doesn't interest me" is the comment I've heard this week.
She has beauty (Those eyes! Those lips! That skin! That hair!) and talent beyond the normal order of things but her beauty manages to eclipse her talent. (Elizabeth Taylor seemed to circumvent that somehow.) I find myself passing on her movies. Girl Interrupted being the exception where she almost succeeds in making herself less attractive with the aid of badly peroxided hair, allowing you to concentrate on her character. In some ways, now, she could only play herself, one of the ten most famous, most identifiable people on earth.
Why is that? Is it partly because she hasn't been forgiven for "stealing" Brad from "our Jen"who is the most relatable woman on earth who we just know would make us the best margarita ever and gossip and giggle all night on her white couches, if only we knew her. That of course is blatant sexism because it was Brad who owed loyalty to Jen and he seemed to walk away blameless.
Do we suspect Angie might be a loyal friend but not a cosy friend. A woman who's never taken any shit from a man and if we complained a-la-Bridget Jones about our hopeless boyfriend, she would just say "He's not into you." End of discussion.
In Berlin I went to the premiere of Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In The Land of Blood and Honey, a love story set against the backdrop of the Bosnian war. Though overly long and featuring actors who lacked charisma, the movie was incredibly searing (horrific rape scenes) and honestly and uncomfortably portrayed a woman who slept with the enemy to save her life. The movie was pretty much panned and seen only by critics but I think a lot of the criticism was because Angelina Jolie made it.
Well, whatever our complicated "relationship" with her, this week she used her superpowers again for good. Yes, good on you Ang.