|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.
I guess I will be in the minority here - i actually quite like her - but then I think the media is too quick to quick to want to"cast" people into certain roles. I think she has done a lot for those less fortunate and she appears to be quite kind and friendly in the odd interview that i have caught of her. I think she just doesn't do a lot and a lot of her roles have tended to put her into characters that are best defined "untouchable", although I thought she was terrific in the movie about Daniel Pearl's wife. I also wonder if we don't judge her so harshly as we watched her grow up through that whole billy bob episode and wanting to shock us all. now I would describe her as very classy and very kind and i do hope this will launch some great debate on access to timely health care and testing for women! Great topic!ReplyDelete
All great points and she raised enormous amounts of awareness this week. She was transcendent in one of her first movies, Pushing TIn playing an edgy character. As you say we're watched her grow up, she's been around what seems all of our movie watching lives. Fascinating to see Girl Interrupted also has Elizabeth Moss in it (Mad Men who has also been around forever.Delete
I imagine her being one of those girls that super beautiful and gets misunderstood because of that. I bet people think she's arrogant, bitchy, aloof, uncaring, etc. just based on her looks alone.ReplyDelete
I bet she's a lot more normal then we think she is.
And why are we so fascinated by her choice to have this procedure done? It's so weird to me. It's a personal, medical decision, and frankly I don't understand why someone wouldn't do it with those statistics. (Assuming you have the money for it,anyway.)
Agreed, why would anyone not do it with those statistics.Delete
I think you completely nailed it about Angie. I think in her younger years, she's done things for shock value and to get attention. I think that since she became a mother, she's focused more on self-sacrifice and making a difference.ReplyDelete
And I do appreciate the fact that she reconciled with her father and gave Jon Voight a chance to know his grandchildren. In the past, I found it a bit hypocritical that she chose to be estranged from her father because he cheated on her mother but yet it's ok for her & Brad to "fall in love" and most likely had an affair while he was still married to Jen? Hmmmn... it's not like she didn't know his situation! Whatevs.
She has made a good movie or twoReplyDelete
But meh to her at my zoo
Lips are waaaay to big for me
And yeah she did raise awareness at her sea
sad it has to come from a celebrity
And people can't wise the heck up on their own at their sea
Plus alot of the cancer crap can be avoided too
If people watched what they shoved down their gazoo
Sad it has to come from a celebrity,Delete
No one would take notice of old you and old me
She's a conundrum, that's for sure. I can't say I'm really impressed with her choice. The science about the BRCA-1 (&2) gene isn't consistent either. People are jumping to interpret the findings, but the science isn't complete. All they know for sure is a correlation between the gene and cancer, but doctors aren't even aware of what that means. For a doctor to recommend this procedure as prophylactic is irresponsible and negligent. Yes, for someone with breast cancer, a mastectomy can help save her life. But for someone without? It seems extreme, fear-mongering and excessive on all counts. Particularly since a person can avoid cancer by about 85% simply with diet and lifestyle. This choice Angelina made is one she has to live with now, and I hope it works for her. She can be said to be brave in that it takes courage to undergo any major surgery. But it's not brave to make a knee-jerk reaction of such an extreme out of fear. But that's just my opinion.ReplyDelete
Everything else she does as a UN ambassador, looking to help children and empower women... that's impressive.
All interesting points Koreen, this makes me want to Google the science and learn more.Delete
I think her problem is that she is not relatable - who else do you know who wears/wore a phial of her partner's blood around her neck? She has made some strange lifestyle choices and (sorry to say) comes across - IMHO - as rather cold. I think she is also aligned with that other "normal" mother Madonna in people's minds with her adoption of a multi racial family. She did herself no favours by hooking up with Brad Pitt because public opinion was firmly with Jennifer Aniston. I get slightly weary of celebs constantly pimping their every move in the name of public interest. I'm sure it's honestly meant but meh...ReplyDelete
Very interesting comment by Koreen there, I didn't know the science was so ropey.ReplyDelete
But, on the whole I like Ange. I have a terrible memory so I can't remember all the weird stuff she's done, and don't usually read about it anyway unless I'm in the dentist's or hairdresser's and I've forgotten my Kindle.
I haven't seen many of her films either, just the action ones in which she is très dashing and full of panache.
I think the important thing about what she's done here is to raise awareness about breast cancer prevention. She took the surgical route, but others may now think about doing something like changing their lifestyle and diet so they don't have to have surgery. Debate is good.
Jody- I think we all want to sail through life carefree, to realize we can make decisions that could save our lives like this is almost too much to process. These are decisions our grandmothers never got to ponder.ReplyDelete
I think her heart is in the right place...... ultimately!!ReplyDelete
I usually don't have strong opinions on celebrities but I must be in minority and I would pick Angelina over Jennifer for almost anything, be it coffee or being stuck on deserted island. She seems like a strong, independent woman who made some unpopular choices and I respect that. As for the surgery, if it was me, it would seem invasive and driven by fear but it is a very personal choice. When I say driven by fear, I am not judging her, I only believe that the fate catches up with us anyway, like with Oedipus.ReplyDelete
I have mixed feelings about Angie. But making her personal health issues public brings about conversation and somehow might make someone else's decision to undertake this drastic, difficult decision easier. Sometimes I actually do find her relatable and usually when she's serving others. Great post, Jody!ReplyDelete
I don't read celebrity mags or have much interest in 'stars' so it was only the fact that she was in the news that made me give this any thought at all......very briefly too....and as cold as this makes me sound I just thought 'shrugs shoulders and uses a whatever face'.ReplyDelete
I think she's a bit of a contradiction... one minute I perceive her as being someone who stands up for what she believes in, in an intelligent, rational manner... the next she is posing on a red carpet with her leg popping out of her dress at a peculiar angle...ReplyDelete
I reckon she'd be better off giving up the Hollywood stuff... I reckon her heart is in human rights and/or politics... but this is just my perception.
I think she's an extremely interesting woman. Yeah, not someone you necessarily want as a best friend, but she's not afraid to do things differently, whether it's adopting a ridiculous number of kids or having a double mastectomy. I say good on her.ReplyDelete
I think Angie is a tough woman despite her looks. I wish her good health... Her children need her.ReplyDelete
I'm the opposite, I adore her, I always have!b I think she is warm and cuddly most definitely. I on the other hand have never warmed to Jennifer Aniston, I think she's a bland actress and can only do one type of movie for me. Angelina works countless hours for charity and just because she's not all bubbly like other actresses or women are, people are cold with her, but I sometimes think the bubbly people can be fake to me. I think it was a brave choice to share this with all of the world as it's not actually our business and many have been judging her because of the Brad/Jen thing and that's been wrong. It was he who left, both should have been in the pot, but we always blame the woman, it's a vile shame. My grandmother had cancer, she lost both her breasts and eventually it came back again and she died from it. Though, she lived a long life (91) and I hope the same for Angelina and all the others who have cancer. She showed women they can be brave and not be defined for having cancer. I hope it pushes more women to go and get checked and take care of themelves xReplyDelete
I'm glad you wrote about this. I'll have to say - ditto. I feel the same way as you do. Sometimes being exceptionally beautiful is a bitch because you're instantly prejudiced. As for Brad, it's funny how he managed to walk away from his marriage blameless. I admire Angelina for holding her head up high despite dealing with endless criticisms in everything that she did and does. Most importantly, the work that she does with U.N and many other charities.ReplyDelete
I am glad you wrote about this - it helps being awareness. I am glad that Ms. Jolie has elected to share her story with us like this.ReplyDelete
She made a very bold and major decision that should be admired. Although many have their reservations about her, it was great that she brought this issue to the forefront and made the courageous decision to do it herself.ReplyDelete
Quite a serious post! But immensely thought provoking. I enjoyed this variation. You've included some points I haven't come across on this topic before, making me sit here and think. I'd do it--as you say, there's really only one choice. But not because I relate to Angie. I must admit I admire her (even before this op), but that doesn't mean I want to be her friend.ReplyDelete
(And how cool that you went to the Berlin festival!!)
I don't know her personally (duh), so I wouldn't know what she's like (double duh). But I do know she's been through a lot and that she's human. It must've been tough going through all of that.ReplyDelete
Did you say one in 7?
I'm so with you on public sentiment against her, I've never understood that anymore than all the girls who cried for weeks when Jen and Brad broke up. I think no matter what anyone thinks of her, at least she's trying to make a difference and find her aspirations more interesting than Jen, who announced on Oprah that she looks forward to getting up in the morning so that she can drink coffee. Yay for coffee, but still you know what I mean?ReplyDelete
xo Mary Jo
Quite an interesting read. I never LOVED her or hated her...she was just kind of there. I think Mary Jo's observation emphasises your point. Jen drinks coffee and Angie heads for Africa. It kind of just depends on whether an individual wants to hear about someone relatable to every day occurrences or someone who will really show off some star power.ReplyDelete