In this month’s Harper’s Bazaar, Naomi Wolf has penned an absurd, overwrought, swooning love letter to Angelina Jolie , the woman who, in Wolf’s analysis, most fully embodies “having it all.” It’s just about impossible to read this piece and simultaneously remember that Wolf is a serious feminist and thinker. She has bent her erudition to the plainly ridiculous, plainly thankless task of explaining that, because Angelina Jolie is a symbol of both goodness and sexiness, she is a better, more complete woman than Mother Teresa, Florence Nightingale, and Elizabeth Taylor. Apparently, if Mother Teresa had made time to screw hotties between her busy orphan-caring schedule she would be as awesome, important, admirable and transcendent as Jolie. Seriously, this article is hilarious.
Wolf’s not the first writer to postulate that Angelina Jolie is the world’s most superior female. (For those of you who watch Battlestar Galactica , at least we can be certain she’s the world’s most likely cylon). Back in 2007 Esquire ran a cover story on Jolie that drooled, “One could make the argument that she is the most famous woman in the world. Why not, then, just go ahead and make the argument that she is the best woman in the world, in terms of her generosity, her dedication, and her courage?” Rather than respond, “Uhm, Why Not? Are you kidding?!” Wolf has opted to further Esquire ’s cause. Jolie is, in Wolf’s estimation, the “’Ego ideal’ for women-a kind of dream figure that allows women to access, through fantasies of their own, possibilities for their own heightened empowerment and liberation.” And here I thought she was just a pretty cool, pretty thoughtful movie star. My mistake.
What is it about Jolie in particular that inspires this sort of heightened drivel? In the presence of a celebrity who is not a totally useless, self-involved sack of shit must magazines start spewing the most deranged hyperbole? Why must Jolie be “the best,” instead of just what she is, a famous person who is aware of the larger, deeply troubled world?
Just for fun, I want to leave you with the paragraph that made me cough up my orange juice:
Then there is the plane. Women are so used to being dependent on others (certainly on men) for where they go, metaphorically, and how they get there. Flying a private plane is the classic metaphor for choosing your own direction; usually, that is a guy thing to do, yet there was Jolie, with her aviator glasses on, taking flying lessons so she could blow the mind of her four-year-old son. That is the ultimate in single-mom chic: Even before she had reconstructed a nuclear (or postnuclear) family with a dad at the head of it, she was reframing single motherhood from a state of lack or insufficiency to a glamorous, unfettered lifestyle choice. Paradoxically, having done so, she makes the choice of a man to help her raise her kids seem like one option among many for a self-directed woman rather than either a completion of a woman or a capitulation.
Did you get that single moms? If you want to be the “height of single mom chic”-And who doesn’t!- time to start coughing up the cash for private flying lessons and babysitters. The most superfantastical woman in the universe flies planes and, if we’re serious about being women, and serious about being feminists, we all must try to be more like her.