20080305

The March 4 primaries and Us Magazine

On the eve of the Washington Post publishing an eloquent, well-thought-out Op-Ed by screen icon Angelina Jolie (an admitted former blood drinker) who draws upon her experience as an UNHCR ambassador in Iraq, Us Magazine releases a very peculiar issue. Certainly, it has a nice 5-page spread on Barack Obama (an admitted former drug user) asking the question: Is he really just like Us? Yet, the more interesting angle is that the week's cover story seems to undermine the essence of the interview.

On the eve of a triumphant moment that was poised to legitimize Angelina Jolie as a credible voice on U.S. (notice the difference) foreign policy, Us runs a cover story that paints aforementioned screen icon in a deeply negative light. Not only that, but the exclusive focus of the cover story is how Angelina Jolie may have wronged Jennifer Aniston -- by skipping out on a party at which she would have found herself face to face with the wronged, aspiring actress. This is something straight out of the Penn/Ickes victimology play book!

You may ask, how does this sway the March 4 primaries? Well, I am convinced that the message that Us was perniciously, insidiously sending to its extensive readership was: Nevermind that Angelina Jolie is more charismatic, that she has more clarity when it comes to world affairs, that she has done more about the Sudan, that she has done more for Katrina victims, that she's developed a body of work that -- certainly -- has its Beowulfs and its Lara Crofts, but also includes an Academy Award and what many critics have judged to be an Oscar-worthy performance in A Mighty Heart, and that she's all around a more compelling personality than Jennifer Aniston.... The success of "Team Aniston" over the past three years of recriminations and competing interviews, has been founded solely upon her dwelling on how badly she has been wronged.

Despite these common-sensical observations:
"They don't care or think about Jen," says a Jolie-Pitt pal. "Brad has moved on." Echoes another Pitt source: "They weren't thinking about Jennifer. They are over it. They have four, soon to be five, kids together!"

Us prefers to insinuate injustice:
The 48 Laws of Power author Robert Greene affirms that Jolie is possibly "being either very Machiavellian or very passive-aggressive. If Angelina is trying to get under Jen's skin -- push her buttons -- this is a clever way to do it." After all, why not just meet with Aniston and get it over with? Greene wonders if Jolie is simply keeping the power dynamic in her favor.

Thus they stoke the flames of indignation, despite the fact that other stars who were listed as hosts to the now infamous Night Before party -- such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon -- did not show up, either.

It is as if the tabloid press is troubled or angered by self-possessed, smart personalities who appear comfortable in their own skin, and willing to make a stand for what they believe in. That they would rather our hearts go out to the eternally wronged, eternally dwelling on yesterday's spats, tragic figures in our culture, so that somehow we may feel empowered by bestowing upon them our indulgence and eventual vindication.

If any narrative was at play going into yesterday's primary contests in Vermont, Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island, this was surely the most salient.

1 comment:

La-la-la...Linoleum! said...

I think this dynamic really has been a big force in the primaries, as has been the "pretty people are all dumb/nerds are all smart" assumption. Clinton has really capitalized on this, I think, and it may be why some of her insinuations about Obama's lack of substance seem to be starting to stick.

Playa hatin' is going to cost the Dems the election. Seriously, liberals deserve what they get this fall if they can't get it together to nominate the greatest political talent of our generation.