Angelina Jolie sends young women all sorts of messages: that you can both be a mom and successful businesswoman, that it’s important to take a stand on issues you care about, and that making a healthy choice “in no way diminishes [your] femininity”. But the most irritating message young women will likely get this week about the award-winning actor is that even if you cultivate the image of a near-saint, there will still be a man waiting to cut you down.
Rudin, the producer of such films as No Country for Old Men and The Social Network, sounded off in an exchange with Sony’s co-chairman Amy Pascal. He was irate that Jolie wanted director David Fincher to work on her version of Cleopatra, rather than direct a new Steve Jobs biopic.
“There is no movie of Cleopatra to be made (and how that is a bad thing given the insanity and rampaging ego of this woman and the cost of the movie is beyond me),” he wrote.
I don’t know Jolie, so I suppose it’s possible she’s an ego monster of epic proportions – and it’s certainly not news that Hollywood power players badmouth each other. But I find it quite irritating – and more than a little telling – that so many of the entertainment industry’s “brats”, “prima donnas” and “divas” are of the female persuasion. What? Russell Crowe isn’t a brat?
When male stars act the fool, it’s seen as part of their rakish charm. Get in bar fights, go home with 20 women, scream at co-workers – it’s all good. But a successful, widely-talented and powerful woman who dedicates her time to international humanitarian causes? She’s a “brat”. It’s an insult that you’d use to describe an unruly child, not a grown woman. And “spoiled”? Jolie’s success wasn’t handed to her. She created it.
Perhaps, as the Guardian’s Brian Moylan writes, “Pascal and Rudin are talking about their co-workers the same way that we do”. But everyday double standards (he’s the boss, she’s a bitch) are rife among “normals”, so it makes sense that they’d infiltrate the notoriously misogynist film industry. That doesn’t make it right.
I have no doubts that in Hollywoodland, there are more than a few healthy egos (Rudin’s included). It seems necessary to the job description. But in a town where women fare so poorly on both the business and entertainment side, it seems like Hollywood should learn a thing or two about how best to describe the women who deign to stay – and succeed – despite the obstacles. “Patient” is one I’d go with. “Ambitious”. “Smart”. But “brat”? Let’s save that one for producers with limited vocabularies.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
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