Guardian Writer Tried to Reduce Angelina Jolie’s Career and the Internet Said How Dare You
Over the weekend, an opinion piece from The Guardian went around from an infamous writer, known for writing trans-exclusionary content, about actress Angelina Jolie. The piece claimed that Jolie was only famous for her relationship with Brad Pitt and, despite being an A-List actress, has no notable filmography to speak of—even daring readers to “name a single movie of Jolie’s that you have actually seen.”
*Laughs in ’90s bisexual.* Ma’am, don’t start what you can’t finish.
The internet took major umbrage with this and not only defended Jolie, but pointed out the sexism connected with a thesis like that. Jolie’s marriage has been tabloid fodder and there have been plenty of superficial reasons for her continued fame, but that doesn’t erase her pop culture legacy and actual star quality.
Before her marriage to Brad Pitt, the actress has the mixed privilege of being the daughter of Jon Voight, the infamous conservative actor that he is. Her career started in earnest with the cult classic Hackers (HACK THE PLANET) and then really took off with the back-to-back films George Wallace (1997) and Gia (1998), where she’d win a Golden Globe apiece.
Girl, Interrupted in 1999 would both win her an Oscar and also cement the image of her being a “cool girl” type, but also “dark” and “aloof.” The infamous kissing her brother on the red carpet and wearing her then-husband’s blood in a vial would all happen in a matter of moments.
Being a ’90s baby, Jolie became an icon for me in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film that is both trash and endlessly delightful and entertaining. I look back on that being one of my major bisexual awakening moments, and Jolie, especially in that era, was very much a queer icon, being both bisexual and playing a major bisexual figure in Gia.
Jolie was also the action star of her time, taking the mantle from Pam Grier and being a truly compelling force to watch on camera. Salt 2 is desired by many people, okay? Later, on she took a back seat with acting, doing some projects, but also directing and producing films, including an Oscar-winning film. Her humanitarian work is one of the things she is most known for now, because while we can certainly be critically of any celebrity activism, it has seemed mostly genuine coming from her.
The author of the piece describes that work as such:
“Well, Jolie is very beautiful and she does lots of things that come under the vague umbrella term of “humanitarian work”: campaigning for refugees, women and children in developing countries, which is obviously very good; going to war zones during actual wars, which is … is that good?”
All this to say she is more than just one part of a love triangle and “the wicked witch of the cheekbones,” as the author describes when it comes to Maleficent.
It is funny that this piece has come out around the same time we are discussing the sexism surrounding Britney Spears, and even a clip has gone around showing David Letterman pretty much gaslighting and being an ass to Lindsay Lohan.
Tabloid culture loves to be shocked that they keep certain figures relevant by scavenging their lives for fodder and then asking between bites of flesh why we still care.
But to really get into one aspect of why I think Jolie may not have the iconic roles that people look for in a female actress, the answer is pretty simple: she’s not a romcom actress. Romantic comedy actresses have been asked to have a certain kind of “look”—sexy and inviting, but America’s sweetheart. Not intimidating. Romantic comedies have mostly celebrated a singular brand of white womanhood.
Much like Elizabeth Taylor before her, Angelina Jolie is an actress seen as too sexy to really fit into the films that many actresses of her contemporary status pick their teeth on, hence the action films. Then, as someone who became a mother of six and wanted to be involved in their lives, she slowed down. When you are only seen as valuable for being a sex symbol and for your lips, it does not encourage people to see your humanity beyond that.
Except, having co-written Beowulf, I knew she wasn’t due on set to start work for another 3 weeks & she wasn’t actually in any scenes with Anthony Hopkins. She was famous enough that people were simply making up stories and printing them as facts. That “no smoke without fire”2/3
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) February 13, 2021
Something we are coming to terms with now, but clearly not fast enough.
Not to mention, how many men have mediocre talent and careers that have been elevated by finding their niche and never going outside of it until they burn out? Do they get op-eds about them? Didn’t think so.
(image: Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards )
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