Angelina Jolie’s quest to be taken seriously

Despite the Oscar shade, a Golden Globe snub, and the “minimally talented spoiled brat” insult, Angelina Jolie’s war drama “Unbroken” (which she directed) continues to garner critical praise. Heck, even Jennifer Aniston, her former tabloid nemesis, called the film “beautiful and wonderful” and said that Jolie did a “gorgeous job.”

What’s more, ticket sales have been doing much better than expected. According to Box Office Mojo, as a of Jan. 20, “Unbroken”  has earned over $109 million domestically. Inkoo Kang at Indie Wire called it “the sleeper hit of the holiday/Oscar season.

Maybe it was the prestige award snubs or leaked catty digs about her lack of talent, that led Celebitchy to ask “Does Angelina Jolie deserve credit for the box office success of ‘Unbroken’?

They link to an article on Variety that credits the film’s uplifting theme as being a major reason why it did well during the holiday season. To be fair, the Variety article never speculated as to whether Jolie deserved directorial credit, but Celebitchy blatantly posed that very question in their headline.

A commentator named Velourazuren summed up why asking if Jolie deserved credit, felt insulting:

“I don’t recall anyone ever asking if Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg or James Cameron should get credit for their successful films. Seems like it’s assumed they would. Why is that question asked of a female director?”

It’s a provocative question, and it does make me wonder, in this instance, how someone’s gender influences their perceived competency. There was a lot of press recently about a new study that found that the number of female directors directing the top 250 grossing films, has actually declined over a 17 year period.

Certainly, it could be argued that all actors (both men and women) struggle to be taken seriously when they try their hand at directing. But Jolie isn’t just any actor looking to make a directorial transition, she’s a mega movie star with a scandal tinged past. Sure, she won an Oscar, and in recent years she’s garnered praise for her devotion to humanitarian causes, but for most of her career she’s been lauded just as much, if not more, for her beauty and sex appeal as she has her talent and good deeds.

Of course, the benefit to having a sexy image is pretty obvious. Being considered “hot” means more exposure and therefore greater economic opportunity. But the shelf life of famous “hotties” has been historically short, and the tragic aging beauty has become it’s own tired stereotype. But so often the real tragedy is when, women who are celebrated for their sex appeal, try to do work that is more substantive.

Angelina Jolie 2
Jolie, during her vixen days. | Photos by Hot Gossip Italia via Flickr

Ethan Hawke touched upon this in an interview recently, saying people wanted Jolie to be Marilyn Monroe and to “burn out.” He went on to say “the fact that Angelina has transcended the way the world objectified her and is making serious films, she deserves all the positive things that are happening.”

It’s not entirely clear as to whether Jolie has in fact “transcended the way the world objectified her.” She’s still regarded as a great beauty and gets a fair amount of praise for this. But that’s all beside the point. Right now she’s making waves in a field that for whatever reason, doesn’t have many women. If Angelina Jolie can go from a woman girls were told they should look like, to a woman who inspires girls to roll up their sleeves and get to work- even if you’re the only girl doing it, then that has to be at least as good as being nominated for an Oscar.

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