Would the National Enquirer have all of us men hide our aging faces?
Recently, I happened across an excerpt from a National Inquirer article regarding Brad Pitt’s Chanel No. 5 campaign. It was in the Week’s “It must be true… I read it in the tabloids” department. This column is meant to be a tad skeptical of the tabloids, while still allowing us respectable readers a glimpse into that world. In a nutshell, the excerpt suggested Brad Pitt is screwing up his career by allowing the world to see that he is aging.
So I tracked down the original article in the National Enquirer penned by columnist Mike Walker.
WRINKLE, WRINKLE, LITTLE STAR! Stop wondering why BRAD PITT’s new flick “Killing Them Softly” bombed:
His own reps say it’s all his fault, reports an insider!
They’re telling the star that his stubborn insistence on letting his facial wrinkles show is killing his career – because fans are shocked by the sudden loss of his boyish good looks. Trouble started with the 49-year-old’s much ballyhooed Chanel No. 5 ad campaign featuring huge posters showing him looking weathered and aged – all because he refused to allow any photo retouching.”
I have written previously about how the media loves to build up celebrities and tear them down. For very profitable reasons, publications like In Touch and the National Inquirer have cultivated the public’s seeming appetite for simultaneously loving and hating celebrities. Attacking celebrities is such a cash cow for tabloids that the resulting stream of fabrications about people like Pitt’s wife Angelina Jolie is nothing short of obscene.
Our culture’s century old obsession with celebrity driven media has created a lurid ecosystem of celebrity “journalists” who, having done little that is genuinely creative in their own careers, yap at the heels of the very same celebrities they themselves built up in the first place. No doubt this is the modern equivilent of the bread and circuses of ancient Rome, whereby the unwashed masses were diverted from the real issues of the day by lurid entertainments aimed squarely at their baser urges.
Mr. Walker’s insistence that Brad Pitt somehow stop aging would be laughable were there not so much anti-aging hysteria being promoted at every turn. And make no mistake, the narratives that people like Mr. Walker ceaselessly promote in the world come back to haunt us all. I mean, for god’s sake, are we to condemn people, either men or women, for getting older? We might as well condemn them for breathing. Yet here is Mr. Walker suggesting we do just that.
And for the record, I ran smack into Pitt’s Chanel No. 5 ad here in NYC on a bus stop shelter. The ad was printed ten feet high by five feet wide. The image of Pitt stopped me dead in my tracks. I literally stopped and stared. Brad Pitt is a BEAUTIFUL man. And the thing about the ad that startled me was how the aging of his face has made him even more so. (Never mind Pitt’s considerable accomplishments in supporting humanitarian and political causes, his work supporting sustainable architecture and his standing as a husband and father.)
So when Mr. Walker chastises Pitt for showing his age, the next question that comes to mind is, would Mr. Walker have all of us men who are aging, hide our faces as well? (This from a guy whose photo, by the way, is printed half the size of postage stamp.) Culturally, we’re being encouraged to adhere to a bizarre and destructive narrative about beauty. This narrative seems to operate on the assumption that all celebrities are uniformly arrogant and dismissive of us when in their prime, and so deserving of our contempt as they age. This appeals to what exactly? Our baser natures as jealous and resentful creatures? Like the little red devil standing on our collective shoulders, the tabloid press says, go on, you know you want to, hate them.
It’s nothing short of disgusting. Because it not only encourages us to harshly judge others, it ultimately makes us employ the same shallow criteria to judge ourselves. And so, when Mr. Walker declares that these unretrouched photos of Mr. Pitt are “trouble” for Pitt’s career, I can only say that this:
Maybe Mr. Walker should spend less time being catty about the appearance of others and take a few minutes to reflect seriously on his laughably tragic body of professional work; which is ultimately debasing and damaging to us all.
For more by Mark Greene on our cultural construction of beauty please see:
Do you agree that the tabloids are way off base about aging?
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