The Worst Celebrity Profile Ever Written?
Angelina Jolie, "the best woman in the world."
A meretriciousness that reaches a peak in the final column of the story, when we finally get the Angelina Jolie-as-victim theory that at last ties together Angelina, 9/11, the suffering of the wretched of the earth, and the analogous suffering of celebrities. It is a rule of the Celebrity Profile that celebrities Suffer for their Fame because they're always whining on about how difficult it is to go to the supermarket without being recognized and other tragic inconveniences.
Or as our profiler puts it in Esquire: "She fulfills her vision of herself as the underdog; because she's the underdog she connects to the world's genuine underdogs … and so, in the end, finds meaning and a measure of happiness. It is the kind of conversion encouraged by all of the world's major religions, but because celebrity is the religion in question here, the conversion of Angelina Jolie is regarded as out of reach—the function of fame and privilege."
But he doesn't stop there with the vision of the Christlike Angelina's suffering and her "conversion" to some vague religion of celebrity. She's not merely a Christ figure: "It's pretty damned clear that the word that best describes her is a word the religion of celebrity has made difficult to say, and more difficult to swallow:
God that was brave of him, to call Angelina Jolie "good."
One thing that's a little sad about it is that there was something he could have talked about other than the meaninglessness of the meaning of celebrity: the meaning of the death of Daniel Pearl. Which, ironically, really was a 9/11 story, in that many investigators believe that Pearl was murdered by the suspected 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who confessed, albeit after torture, to killing Pearl).
Well, I'll let you be the judge: Read the whole thing. But I feel that in a wasteland of celebrity profiles, this one rises to immortality with its final paragraph.
Because nothing matches the stately assurance of its own self-importance, nothing reaches what I'd call the "existential pompousness" of that final paragraph, with its last sentence devoted to a reprise of the "suffering" that Angelina Jolie undergoes and how she transcends it all in her uniquely saintly, best-woman-in-the-world way:
"The people who travel with her are always amazed by how she bears up when she's barraged by photographers." (Statements like this always make you wonder whether she'd suffer more if no photographers bothered to badger her.) "The people who travel with her are always blinded by the flashbulbs and wonder if something's wrong with her eyes, for she just stares at the photographers as if she's taking them all in, and then moves forward, as if they mean nothing to her at all." End of story.
Oh the bleak meaninglessness of fame! She's seen through to its essential nothingness. She sees through it; her eyes are fixed on a more distant dream. He knows it, our profile writer, he's not blinded by the lights, the way the lower orders are. He's on a spiritual realm with her, above the foolish fame-blinded masses. A plane of pure altruism and suffering. Someday we too can aspire to the wisdom to see what they see from the perspective they share together. For this gift of hope, this glimpse of what it is to be so spiritually evolved, we must be grateful.
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.