The Media and Angelina Jolie

Last Tuesday, Angelina Jolie revealed in a NY Times op-ed that after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene, she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy. As a woman whose career is based on the commodification of her body, Jolie has done more for the stigmatization surrounding breast cancer, gene testing, and reconstructive surgery with just one statement:

“On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”

As someone who lives off of celebrity news, I didn’t know about Jolie’s mastectomy until Wednesday afternoon. A full 24 hours had passed by the time I got around to reading the op-ed and the discussions about the impact of Jolie’s revelation. The People and Time magazine covers (pictured below) were already in place for the next week.


I did something unusual after seeing these two magazines in the drugstore. I purchased them. There is something monumentally impactful and fascinating about these magazines. Side-by-side, the differences between how these two publications address this story are astounding. It is soft news vs. hard news; feminized media vs. de-feminized media. Moreover, we see the remarkable nature of Angelina Jolie’s star image. She easily toes the line between all types of media. Continue reading “The Media and Angelina Jolie”

Reese Witherspoon’s Post-Oscars Blues

Et tu, Witherspoon? Photo: Film School Rejects
Et tu, Witherspoon? Photo: Film School Rejects

In case you missed it, Reese Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth were arrested on Friday April 19. This is one of the biggest, juiciest gossip stories to happen in a long time. According to police reports, as Toth was being arrested for a DUI, Witherspoon got out of the car and said to the police officer: “Do you know my name?” When the officer said that did not matter, Witherspoon responded: “You’re about to find out who I am.”

Oh my Reese. That is not how one of America’s sweethearts behaves. Continue reading “Reese Witherspoon’s Post-Oscars Blues”

The New Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow revealed her miscarriage. But for what purpose and to what affect?

One story caught my attention this past week in the land of celebrity gossip. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed she suffered a miscarriage during her third pregnancy. “I had a really bad experience when I was pregnant with my third. It didn’t work out and I nearly died.” She goes on to describe the void she feels in her life because of the absence of a third child.

I was instantly struck by the frankness of Paltrow’s revelation. A miscarriage is a profoundly sad event for anyone to experience and it is a profoundly personal event for a celebrity to share. Although about 1/4 of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage, few celebrities are forthcoming about having had a miscarriage. This fact alone makes Paltrow’s revelation noteworthy; her candor will certainly help other women dealing with their own grief.

But we should immediately question why a celebrity shares revealing personal information. Celebrities might lead public lives and want us to respect their privacy but they also depend on us – the fans and consumers – to buy their products. Thus when a celebrity is promoting their latest movie, album, book, or product, privacy becomes a relative term. So why did Gwyneth Paltrow choose to discuss this personal experience that happened several years ago? The (somewhat cynical) answer is that Paltrow is currently promoting her latest cookbook, It’s All Good and she is attempting to rebrand her public image. Continue reading “The New Gwyneth Paltrow”

Anatomy Of A Pointless Celebrity Gossip Story

Disclaimer: I have no idea why I’m writing this post. Am I suddenly a cultural commentator invested in tabloid journalism? Am I bored? Am I just morbidly curious because an actor I like is at the center of this non-scandal? (Answers: No, yes, and maybe.) Anyways, here it goes. Continue reading “Anatomy Of A Pointless Celebrity Gossip Story”

The Tiger Woods Road to Redemption

As someone who cannot watch golf without changing the channel, I frankly stopped caring about the Tiger Woods scandal a few days after it happened. I was neither disgusted by his behavior nor worried about the future of his career. And I certainly did not (do not) care about the state of his personal life.

Yes I watched Tiger Woods’ press conference on March 17. But I did not see him simply as an athlete seeking redemption. I saw a man with a carefully constructed public image who was desperately trying to keep his image in tact. (Whether or not this has worked is an entirely different issue.)

This fact is once again clear to me after watching the first post-scandal Nike advertisement featuring Woods. Here it is:

The voice you are hearing is Earl Woods, Tiger’s late father who passed away in 2006. “Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive,” he says. “To promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?” I don’t know when this voiceover is from but it is incredibly ominous and freaky.

Yet this strikes me as a genius ad campaign. Tiger and his managers are not shying away from addressing Tiger’s mistakes. But they are also not afraid to spin his mistakes by indicating that Woods’ personal problems are the result of his father’s death.

What do you think? Twisted? Brilliant? Sound off below.