The Trouble With Angelina Sep09


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The Trouble With Angelina

In 1979, my parents would attend Saturday Night Live parties thrown by our neighbors in suburban Philadelphia. We children were always dragged along, encouraged to play nicely in a hideously paneled basement, with the hope that we would pass out long before the TV show began. Most of us followed suit, but as a spiteful insomniac, I would bribe my little sister to stay up with me in order to creep up the stairs to see what the big deal was. The poor thing would usually fall asleep on the top step, but I could hear the skreetchy jazzy opening music of SNL and then the exciting cast introductions. I could never keep my eyes open much past that, but would always remember a boozy neighbor yelling that Gilda Radner “should have a sandwich!” Then laughs all around. (This coming from Mr. M. who yet other, uninvited neighbors would say, “could barely keep the shirt on his back, from his little Atlantic City problem.”)

Invariably on the heel of the laughter from the witty sandwich comment, Mrs. S. would jump in with “And someone should throw that Laraine Newman a bucket of chicken too!” More hilarity. And this from the woman who drank hairspray when she ran out of “the good stuff.” Ironically, I never heard anyone hoot and yell that John Belushi (whose contempt for female writers was savage) should drop the fucking cheeseburger.

I’m not judging my parents’ neighbors or their choices in life. My point is that they are just normal, flawed, vulnerable, occasionally graceful, sometimes vile humans, just like “Gilda and Laraine”.

When Angelina Jolie and her pin thin arms and dramatic leg pose took center stage at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, it was clear that we, as an audience (me being the worst offender), are still the same boorish, hateful, unfunny fools from the 70s. “Give that girl a sandwich!”

Strangely enough, Angelina was even thinner in 2008, while shooting Clint Eastwood’s movie Changeling when she was pregnant with twins and couldn’t keep any food down. Maybe she was pregnant at the Oscars. Maybe she posed with her leg out because she had a cramp. We don’t really care. It’s just easier to call her a freak. One thing’s for sure, she is obviously a marketing genius.

Other overheard raucous remarks: “You think she’d be happy! With all that money and round the clock nannies. I wish I had her problems!” I wonder how many of us could even stand in front of a high school auditorium and give a polished performance, let alone on a world stage on the Academy Award telecast that is shown in 65 countries. Really? Most of us would simply shit our pants.

And no I am not lionizing Angelina Jolie. I understand she is a fucked up person who is a crazy-maker and courts drama. I know how she met her current husband and that innocent people were hurt. How did you meet your mate? Was it neat and uncomplicated? How did our parents meet? For those of us who ever know that story, it has been diluted, glossed over and Disney-fied for our delicate, innocent, bambi ears. Angelina knows what she’s made of and maybe that’s partially why she feels she doesn’t deserve nourishment. Just as disturbing, she also knows what her husband is made of.

Like most of us, Angelina was raised by narcissistic parents who wanted nothing more than to pursue their own interests. Because they too, are just human and could never live up to expectations. We could never get enough attention, love, access or validation from them.

So just have a sandwich, just stop gambling, just don’t look at internet porn, just don’t take that drink. Just don’t binge on that pasta. Stop popping pain pills. Don’t be so pathetic. Stop being human.

It’s all so easy. And above all, hilarious to hear this ad nauseum. I bet Oscar Wilde would be jealous.

I think the late, beloved John Candy (who sadly had his own demons involving food issues) said it best in the movie Cool Runnings: “A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”  I’m not asking anyone to be perfect, as I know that imperfection is our common truth. I would just like a little less sneering, and a touch more empathy. Not just for the Oscar winning actress, director, mother of 6 and ambassador, whose raised white scar-tissue on her arms thinly veil her childhood suicide attempts… but for each of us, neighbors one and all.