Whassup NY Post?
So Brangelina or as I like to refer to them, The Gossip Apex, are getting divorced. I’m pretty sure if you live in a cave in outback Australia you’re aware of this. As I said yesterday, we here are not a gossip blog. If you want more juice about what’s going down I refer you here and here.
What we are here for, ALL DAY LONG, is to sit back a little and consider what we are being told and sold. What are we being told by the media (whether true or not) and in the service of what? There’s a narrative here they’re trying to sell us…why? Not interesting to me: whether the spilt is because Pitt and Marion Cotillard were fucking during the making of their movie “Allied”. Very interesting to me: why does a tabloid with the massive heft and readership of the NY Post want me to think that?
Because sexist trope.
For the record, Marion Cotillard has addressed the situation today and made it clear she’s not involved. But why did that particular rumour catch fire in the first place? Because of an age-old sexist and reductive trope. It goes like this: a couple divorce, it must somehow be the woman’s fault – she didn’t do enough to keep her man, so another woman “stole” him.
This has multiple effects. One, it presents the man as being a prize. Two, it robs him of any agency and puts him helplessly at the mercy of his sexual desire for a wicked temptress. Three, it puts us in the position of judgement. You judge the wife as being inadequate and you sympathise with the poor, neglected husband. And finally, it re-inforces what Jill Soloway calls “The Feminine Divide”. The idea that when you’re a woman you’re either “Good” or “Bad”. If you are “Good” you are clean, pure, conforming to patriarchal expectations. You’re performing your femininity well at all times, a dutiful wife and revered mother. If you are “Bad” you are dirty, slutty, seductive, wicked, non-conforming, dangerous to all man-kind. Basically, in the end you must die.
Who benefits and who suffers?
In this way you eternally pit women against each other. One archetype continually polices herself lest she be branded a failure. The other is branded a wrecker, cast out, shunned unless she reforms and conforms. And both only really exist in relation to the subject, who is…you guessed it! The man. Now again and again in this blog I ask you…once you have considered this, consider who benefits?
And who suffers?
Of course, all of you will recognise the trope above as one that was enforced and then re-inforced over and over and over again.
It’s been in constant rotation since the inception of The Gossip Apex. Dangerous seductress Angelina Jolie stole hapless Brad Pitt from poor, inadequate, barren Jennifer Aniston. Of all the units in the celebrity firmament, Jolie is the one who knows and understands all of this. She has expertly manipulated the media and by extension, us, over the past 12 years and has completely re-crafted her image. In fact I would argue she invented a new archetype- that of the liberal, post-feminist, sex-positive mother, wife, humanitarian and actress.
Subvert those tropes Angelina! Please.
But there is a significant section of the patriarchy and their hand-maidens who are naturally going to resent her power and influence. How many times did you read or are you reading “The way you catch them is the way you lose them“? As if her original sin (“stealing” Pitt) was always going to come and bite her in the end. Obviously, because she, as a “bad” woman was destined to fail at being a wife and he just cannot fucking help himself.
However, Jolie is the kind of stone cold boss who, as I said above, knows and understands all of this. She is expert at her self-presentation. Having been “the other woman” she is not about to be the object of pity, “the scorned woman”. Apparently she is releasing nuggets of information to TMZ, convenient for millennial consumption habits yes, but also strategically overwhelming these rumours and putting them to bed.
And if anyone can subvert sexist and patriarchal tropes, it’s Angelina Jolie. I look forward to seeing what she’s going to do next.
More to come…