Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Naomi's Girl Crush

When I read about Naomi Wolf's Bazaar homage to Angelina Jolie, purported to explain why American women want to be and screw Mrs. Smith's alter ego, my first suspicion was that it's an article pitched and driven by Jolie's publicist(s), timed to tamp down and/or prop her up amidst all the "Brangelina split" rumors floating around.
Yes, she is conventionally beautiful: Bosomy and wasp-waisted, with that curtain of hair and those crazy pillowy lips, she is an obvious male sex fantasy. But more suggestively, polls show that her appeal and magnetism play at least as powerfully in the fantasy life of females.

Women admire Angelina Jolie, but that would hardly stop the presses. Polls also show that if women — not just lesbian and bisexual women but straight women — had to choose a female lover, they would want to sleep with Angelina Jolie. In other words, women both identify with her and desire her.

There's something more than a simply physical response. Her persona hits an unprecedented level of global resonance — and makes women want to be with her and be her at the same time — because she has created a life narrative that is not just personal. Rather, it is archetypal. And the archetype is one that really, for the first time in modern culture, brings together almost every aspect of female empowerment and liberation.

After reading the gushing essay, it resembles nothing so much as when Camilla Paglia was kicking off her decade-long fascination with Madonna,
Madonna is the true feminist. She exposes the puritanism and suffocating ideology of American feminism, which is stuck in an adolescent whining mode. Madonna has taught young women to be fully female and sexual while still exercising total control over their lives. She shows girls how to be attractive, sensual, energetic, ambitious, aggressive and funny -- all at the same time.

only, what if all those pieces were written more like Peggy Noonan's glazey-eyed love-fests over another Madonna era figure: Ronald Reagan.
Clare Boothe Luce famously said that each President is remembered for a sentence: "He freed the slaves"; "He made the Louisiana Purchase." You have to figure out your sentence, she used to tell John Kennedy, who would nod thoughtfully and then grouse when she left. Ronald Reagan knew, going in, the sentence he wanted, and he got it. He guided the American victory in the cold war. Under his leadership, a conflict that had absorbed a half-century of Western blood and treasure was ended — and the good guys finally won.

Enough of that; Wolf glosses over and assumes women and everyone else, for that matter, is too stupid to fully understand that everything about Jolie's image, especially of the last five years, is just that: image. We know it and we're okay with it, most of us. We don't want to be her, we want what she has: a terrifically-well paying, globe-trotting career, a sexiest-man-alive husband, a family, and nannies to manage it all.

But no, most of us don't want to be her in spite of the fascination, and this is why:

In case you haven't heard, in an upcoming edition of Archie Comics, Archie Andrews is going to propose, finally, to one of the two women he's been stringing along for decades, and Veronica is the IT girl. Speculation is already high that 1: Archie will have a change of heart before he gets down the aisle, and 2: if he doesn't, Betty's much better off without him, anyway. I gotta agree.

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