The Worst Celebrity Profile Ever Written?
Angelina Jolie, "the best woman in the world."
Before I begin quoting from this amazing essay, I would like to say that I don't regard this piece as an attack on the writer (whose noncelebrity work I've often admired), but as an attempt to rescue him, to save him from further assignments of this nature. It's a losing game: The desperate attempt to endow celebs with Deep Meaning is not worthy of his talent.
Consider his opening paragraph. Facing a full-page, full-length "classy" cheesecake picture of an unclothed Angelina with a wispy silvery sheet clutched between her thighs, we find this piece of ... prose:
This is a 9/11 story. Granted it's also a celebrity profile—well, a profile of Angelina Jolie—and so calling it a 9/11 story may sound like a stretch. But that's the point. It's a 9/11 story because it's a celebrity profile—because celebrities and their perceived power are a big part of the strange story of how America responded to the attacks upon it. And no celebrity plays a bigger role in that strange story than Angelina Jolie.
So, it's a 9/11 story. That's heavy, dude. And it's a 9/11 story because, um, because, well, celebrities—which were a totally unknown phenomenon before 9/11, as everyone knows—are a 9/11 phenomenon, and Angelia Jolie is a celebrity. A stunning concatenation of insights!
Sure, it uses the death of thousands on 9/11 as a rationale for running a picture of a half-naked Angelina Jolie. But look, if we can't exploit 9/11 when we need to add a little gravitas to that silver sheet between Angelina's thighs, the terrorists win, right?
But are all stories about celebrities really 9/11 stories? Well, maybe, but Angelina Jolie is really the quintessential 9/11 story because—he tells us—"in post 9/11 America, Angelina Jolie is the best woman in the world because she is the most famous woman in the world—because she is not like you or me."
Hmm, "best woman in the world"? Better than Ayaan Hirsi Ali, say, the Somalian refugee who risked her life to protest genital mutilation and stand up for Enlightenment values against theocratic oppression? (Read her book, Infidel.) Apparently, she is not famous enough.
It takes some time for the author to offer an expanded justification for this insight. First, he must present us with the obligatory gentlemen's-magazine Hot Moment in which the author implies, "She totally woulda done me."
In this case, it involves telling us "the main thing" about meeting Angelina Jolie:
Ron Rosenbaum is the author of The Shakespeare Wars and Explaining Hitler. His latest book is How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III.