Brad Pitt, Approaching 50, Meet Some Idiot at the National Enquirer

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:

Why I Feel Sorry for Gorgeous Female Celebrities (The Poor Sweet Dears…)

and

Sexed-Up Models, Advertising and the Candy Bar Game

Do you agree that the tabloids are way off base about aging?
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About Mark Greene

Good Men Project Executive Editor Mark Greene’s new book, REMAKING MANHOOD is available on Amazon.com's Kindle and on Apple iBooks for iPad and Macintosh. Remaking Manhood, is a collection of Mark's most powerful articles on American culture, relationships, family and parenting. It is a timely and balanced look at the issues at the heart of the modern masculinity movement.

"Mark interweaves his own deeply personal stories with a salient and powerful deconstruction of manhood in America." --Lisa Hickey, CEO, The Good Men Project

Mark's articles on masculinity and manhood have received over 100,000 FB shares and 10 million page views. He writes and talks men's Issues at Salon, Shriver Report, Huffington Post, HLN, and the New York Times. Mark and his wife therapist Saliha Bava live in New York City.

Comments

  1. Although Mr. Pitt has great acting ability, don’t ya think that his rep was often based upon his looks rather then his talents? Or at the very least his looks in conjunction with his talents?

    It’s obviously not exclusive to Mr. Pitt. Once high definition TV came out, a lot of actors and actresses struggled with what the screen will show.

    Then you have to look at someone like Sean Connery, aged extremely well and didn’t appear to worry about his looks.

    To be honest, as a 58 year old, I like seeing wrinkles on these actors, maked them more realistic and human

  2. Speaking as a woman of a certain age, Mr. Pitt IS a beautiful man and wrinkles are lovely things.
    Most of the men that I have know long enough to have witnessed this aging process, have indeed grown more beautiful with the years. They have character and credentials now and are more attractive than they were as youths.

    The truth is much more interesting than the fiction. Let me see your pretty face.

  3. Thank you for such a refreshing article. It’s always so frustrating to have celeb gossip sites and even mainstream/supposed-to-be respected media republish tabloid stories as if they are the truth. Please do continue writing these kinds of articles.

  4. Oh my gosh. He is amazing.

    My perception of him (not knowing him personally, of course) is that he is smart, sensible, caring and well-rounded.

    He is certainly a “Beautiful Man” and I’m so glad he is bucking the trend to appease the Photoshop, Botox or Die generation.

  5. Older men are more appealing to most women, so who cares about this Enquirer guy. He’s probably dateless. This is really just one part of the national attitude towards aging in this country, cutting people down because they are older because of looks. The conversation in this country needs to change to focus on experience and wisdom.

    What’s been interesting to me is now that I’m in my 30’s, no one really seems that old to me unless they are in their 90’s. At which point – fair enough! But my parents are in their 70’s and they look nothing like my grandparents did as they approached 80. All this just reminds me that we don’t really age inside an if we’re lucky, no do we that much outside. And quite frankly, these days I prefer the older people.

  6. Great article and thank you very much for writing it. You are completely right.. And if Brad had been full photoshop .. He would probably write a shity article as well about. Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt. And in my opinion he is a handsome man no matter what age.

  7. Alyssa Royse says:

    So, I’ve never been a huge Brad Pitt fan. I never thought he was particularly attractive, and although a good actor, I never found him all that compelling. That said, I think he is significantly more attractive now than when he was younger. Looks like he has more character, less of a predictable cookie cutter “hot guy.”…. And the thing about not allowing re-touching, the minute I read that, he got hotter. That’s the kind of character that makes a man attractive to me. An ability to appreciate and find beauty in reality is attractive.

  8. “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?”

    Many men who are aging want women who are aging to hide their faces.

    • And isn’t that one of the big topics that woman’s rights activists like to bring up? How woman are “pressured” to wear make-up and that it is an example of the “objectification of women?” Isn’t “men’s telling women how they should wear make-up” the reason for the latest big “Good Men Project mraw; Matlack evil misogynist!” blow out.

      The scope of this article IS NOT to address women, make-up, and expectations of female beauty. It is an article about men being held to a certain standard of “beauty.”

      Isn’t it a bit hypocritical that it’s “silly” (or worse, infuriating) when men’s issues are brought up in response to articles respond to articles that discuss women’s issues but it’s “totally relevant” when women’s issues are brought up in response to an article on men’s issues.

      Furthermore, while we’re talking about women being expected to “hide” their faces and thus part of the “objectification of women” discussion, can’t we agree that both men and women should be able to expose their faces, un-doctored, to the world without criticism? Isn’t the criticism of Bradd Pitt’s face an example of the objectification of men?

    • People who pursue youth for its own sake, be they men or women, are chasing an illusory benefit for reasons that will eventually leave them frustrated and empty. What I like about the comments here is how many different people are saying that they prefer the look of a person who has lived some. The implication being that an older man or woman might be more thoughtful, experienced and self aware.

      • I completely agree.

        In my opinion Pitt, while he is definitely showing his age a bit, it doesn’t make him look any less interesting or less good looking of a man. As many people have already said the wrinkles add character and add a certain sense of experience and weight to his presence.

        What’s funny is growing up in art studios for most of high school and college I saw lots of different models and the most interesting and challenging models to draw were always the women and men who were older (40s+) because there were more interesting shadows and details; it took a very careful eye to capture their characters.

  9. We like to watch old black and white movies, where the male movie stars were significantly older on average: Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper, and James Stewart…Brad Pitt certainly has some interesting qualities but I prefer the handsome talent of these earlier stars!

  10. “I mean, for god’s sake, are we to condemn people for getting older? We might as well condemn them for breathing. Yet here is Mr. Walker suggesting we do just that.”

    Mark, I respect the spirit of which you write this article. I respect you as writer on this website. You bring fresh and fair perspectives. I respect the the issue this brings up for you and other men. But the reality is that men are simply not as condemned for aging as women are in our culture. Men are not as condemned by society for aging and they are not as condemned by women for aging.

    I know this isn’t a contest. But my question is, why do men only care about these things once they are directly affected by them? For decades, I don’t think many men cared very much about what messages women where being sold about their youth and beauty and value. But one ad with Brad Pitt brings all that out? Vs the multitude of things women deal with daily?

    I really don’t want to take away from your article. I love your perspectives and your writing. But women have been condemned for getting older since the dawn of time. I have heard SO many men talk about “biology” and how much younger women are just more valuable and appling to them and how justified they are. I have gone out on first dates with older men who have sat there and told me about how much better dating was for them and how many options they have older women their own age. Do you know how many men I have heard make derogatory comments about women for simply getting older? Do you know how many people I have heard put Madonna down for still getting on stage and wearing her stuff and doing her thing while they complment and congratulate aging male rockers for doing the same and even talk about how they probably still get “young hot babes”? How many men look at pornography, not of women their own age, but of women decades younger? How many Maxim models ever go over the age of 30? How many times have I sat down to watch Diane Sawyer on ABC World News and watched them wash out her face in the warm glow of camera tricks in ways they NEVER have done to Ted Koppel. A woman’s lined face is deemed offensive, but a man’s isn’t. And it’s a shame that even someoen like Diane Sawyer is treated this way.

    What is infuriating is that all it takes is one little blow up with Brad Pitt for men to feel slighted when women have been dealing with judgments about our aging process for ever. Take stock of all the movies that are currently out that feature older male leads with young hot actresses. It is depressing and common place. Older actresses get aged out but older actors don’t.

    Men have the freedom to learn, experience, grow and be thought of better for it. Women don’t. Men look at us ambivlance or disinterest even if we are their own ages. Older men have much more worth and stock and agency in our culture then older women do.

    I don’t want to see anyone condemned for their age. I understand that men are feeling more pressure then ever in our society. But this issue didn’t start with putting pressures on men for aging. And it’s not going to be solved by only addressing the pressures being currently placed on men for aging. Especially when a lot of men, good men, regular men, everyday men, have been putting standards on women and their own aging process for generations.

    • Hi Erin,
      Thanks for your kind words about my writing. I’ve revised the sentence you quoted to reflect my concern that this issue is equally relevant for men and women.
      “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.”

    • No one here is denying that women are judged, on a regular basis, about their looks, especially as she ages. No one here is saying that is is a problem that only men experience.

      I have seen lots and lots of articles talking about pressures on women regarding their looks. I think that the blog-o-sphere has that pretty solidly covered with enough people who are interested in writing about it to keep it covered, so can you grant just one teeny tiny article that address the impact on men as well? Especially when the author links, at the very beginning of this article to another article that he wrote, also on this site, that addresses women’s image.

      The scope of this article is not to address the vast breadth of negative views on aging, it is to address one specific instance and this example happened to be a man. I am sure that Mark, the writer, and the commentators would agree that their same stance on aging in regards to this instance with Brad Pitt holds true with women as well.

      And while I may agree with you that women probably face greater pressure in the looks department (never mind the pressure on men in the wallet department) it is not uncommon for men to also be judged for their weight, wrinkles, loss of color, age spots, or depleting hairline.

      • Are there other examples where men have been discriminated against because of their age?
        I can give you more examples of how women are discriminated against in our society because of age. I can give you tons of examples of how women are discriminated against in our society because of age perpetuated by men themselves.

        I think closer to the truth is that most men only care about ageism in society when it directly affects them, even on a smaller scale, than that of which women are affected by and have been affected by for generations. And I guess it just bothers me. Sue me.

        Seriously, take stock of all the movies that are out that showcase older male leads with younger actresses. I am sorry but men and women are not treated the same for aging even if men do suffer from greater ideals about their looks then they ever experienced before in history.

        • Because Sean Connery represents ALL old men, of course. By the time you’re 70, everyone treats you like the king, just because you have a penis, right?

          Get real, most old men are treated just as badly as most old women. The Sean Connery guys are *exceptions*. Otherwise you need Hugh Hefner bank accounts to attract.

          • No, older men are not treated as badly as older women. However, in recent years, men do face new pressures. I don’t want to ignore that conversation but it seems to me that a lot of men are proponents of discriminating against women for their age more often. Yet this one situation with Brad Pitt has set off an interesting conversation about the way men think of women and how they think of themselves.

            I think our society does still treat older men with more reverence than it does older women. Hence why so many older male actors are paired with younger actresses. Hence why they never fuzzed out Ted Koppel’s face but they do it to Diane Sawyer every night and make it look like she is in some kind of ethereal glow. Hence why a lot of male-centric media mostly showcases girls in their early 20s. Hence why you can have 35+ year old quarterbacks but not 35+ year old cheerleaders. Hence why there are cheerleaders at all.

            Think very hard about the kind of women Hugh Hefner attracts. You need Hugh Hefner bank accounts to attract young, pretty women. Thank you for making my case for me about the stock men place on women and their ages.

            Schala, let me ask you, what other examples can you and the other guys here give where men have been discriminated for your age? I am sincerely interested if there are other examples of this are around because maybe I am not seeing them.

            • “I think our society does still treat older men with more reverence than it does older women. Hence why so many older male actors are paired with younger actresses.”

              The word actor is key here. How many people are actors? There’s probably more pro-hockey players than actors.

              Apex fallacy – how we treat men at the top is NOT REPRESENTATIVE of how we treat men overall, young or old.

              Johnny Depp’s treatment tell us NOTHING about how we treat Joe Average working at Office #4587 as a clerk in Randomtown. Or retired Older Joe for that matter.

            • I think there is a clear distinction between how male actors are treated vs female actresses that is reflective of our societies beliefs about perceptions and roles of men abd women in general. Which is why older male actors are often paired with partners years younger. But you don’t have to just focus on that aspect, I did mention other aspects where this comes through socially. Both personal experiences and situations that don’t involve movie relfections. I don’t feel the need to restate them yet again as you can read them above.

            • “Hence why you can have 35+ year old quarterbacks but not 35+ year old cheerleaders. Hence why there are cheerleaders at all.”

              If they’re there are eyecandy it also means men, even the best-looking men, don’t make the cut to be eyecandy. Same for most of prostitution -> it means male sexuality is seen as so valueless and easy-to-get that very few people would pay for it.

              “Schala, let me ask you, what other examples can you and the other guys here give where men have been discriminated for your age? I am sincerely interested if there are other examples of this are around because maybe I am not seeing them.”

              I’m not a guy. And I’m 30, so I haven’t been discriminated for my age (too old). I have for being too young (getting carded at 29 to buy alcohol and lottery – 18+ stuff, but I don’t appear my age, and I seldom use skin products or make-up).

              Read women’s magazines. Written by women, bought by women (almost exclusively), and gives tips to women about how to look younger, and 50+% of its pages involve publicities about beauty products of some kind or other.

              I don’t buy magazines. Do the same. Problem solved.

              Women pressured by (almost only) women to look younger, hide their age, color their hair (for fun, then for grey), which seems so girly at the surface that many men shy away from it for fear of being seen as gay (by both men and women), if they even color their hair to cover grey.

              It seems so girly because it’s promoted as a “girly thing” “pampering” etc, and extremely unmasculine. While most people with half a brain would reject the premise that girly things and pampering are NEEDED to be identified as feminine by others. Guys generally will stay far from this, unless their interest is stronger than the social stigma attached to liking it.

              You can’t blame guys for self-preservation and disinterest in what is ultimately extremely shallow, costly and time-consuming practices that are gendered as the anti-thesis of masculine.

              I still think its extremely shallow, costly and time-consuming as a trans woman. Hence I do pretty much zero of this. And I’m seen as feminine regardless. I won’t use skin screams (too costly, too time-consuming, too why-the-fuck-do-I-even-need-this) or hair coloring either (scraps hair shafts, I rather have my natural color healthy, not just “healthy-looking”, plus time-consuming and has to be constantly redone).

            • Schala, men not being cheerleaders is an entirely other topic then the youth that’s promoted in society.

              Sorry for assuming you were a man. However, can you think of more examples of where men are discriminated for based on their age both personally and socially?

              I’m not sure what you getting carded at 29 has to do with this or the fact that you seldom use skin or make-up products or how you don’t appear your age. Being carded because you don’t look your age isn’t age discrimination that we are currently talking about in this article.

              I agree that women’s magazines send bad and terrible messages about women and having to maintain their youth. I do not agree that women are pressured “almost only” by other women to look younger. There is actually no reason women have to force other women to look younger. Although I do think women get caught up in these messages from both male and woman-centric media.

              I have not contributed to buying these magazines for a long time now. However, it is overly simplistic to say that this solves the problem. And if you really believe simply not buying something or watching it or seeing it solved the problem, that is advice you should have prescribed here toward the ad regarding Brad Pitt.

              most people are very intelligent and I don’t feel it’s a great thing to claim that people that struggle with cultural messages about their looks or femininity or masculinity deserve to told they don’t have a brain if they don’t conform to what *you* personally believe in.

            • “most people are very intelligent and I don’t feel it’s a great thing to claim that people that struggle with cultural messages about their looks or femininity or masculinity deserve to told they don’t have a brain if they don’t conform to what *you* personally believe in.”

              There is a difference between:

              1) Doing what society tells you because you’re so insecure at the idea of not doing it, and

              2) Doing stuff and it just so happens to conform with what society tells you, but you personally are fulfilled by it, don’t feel bad at all about it, actually want more of it.

              I don’t like the “go out pamper yourself, or you’re not a “real feminine woman”, so I simply ignore it. And yes, simply ignoring the message solves the problem on a personal level.

              I would do 2) if I actually liked it, but people who complain about unrealistic standards and being “forced” to buy skin creams and hair care products are not doing 2), they’re doing 1).

            • Schala, if you don’t like talking about issues of cultural messages, don’t. You are free to take your own advice and ignore it. Of coures, if we all ignored what we simply didn’t approve of or condone, none of us would have any kind of discussion on GMP. Infact, this very article that was written wouldn’t exsist at all. I get it. Truly I do, you ignore cultural messages. More power to you. However, I don’t personally believe the discussion stops there although I certainly agree that both men and women should stand up against cultural messages about their worth.

  11. Hallelujah!

    I admit I find it a relief to see men’s faces (and women’s) looking real. Brad Pitt doesn’t need to retain his “boyish” look. He’s a man. Why on earth do we insist on this unnatural youth worship?

    Fortunately for men, they are allowed to become “weathered and aged,” whereas women in the US increasingly feel they have no such option. More’s the pity.

  12. I would imagine from the “wrinkle free and tight eyed” older men in show business that we see that the pressure is pretty intense on them to retain their boyish looks. I always groan when I see these plastic surgery jobs and think, ” Oh no, you lost everything about your face that gave you your uniqueness and character.” I think a man who ages naturally is very attractive and quite appealing!

  13. I agree with Erin that our current culture is much less forgiving of women celebrities aging. However, the overall preoccupation with the subject tires me. As a man of 46 I have no qualms with the fact that I was much more physically attractive & desirable when I was 25. I have adjusted my wardrobe accordingly & keep my shirt on at the beach. But what I offer society now is greater: raising my daughter, being a professional, engaged in charitable work, and gaining a broader knowledge of the world. Beauty is subjective & perceptios of it evolve. I accept my current appearance & don’t compare myself to pop culture figures. Although, if I did, I’d agree Brad Pitt is much better looking & he’s older than me!

    • Dominic, glad you shared your perspective. I certainly bet and agree you absolutely offer more to society and the people in your life (your daughter) more than when you were 25. And that is an awesome thing. I just wish more men felt like you and felt that women also offered more to society as they got older and gained experience.

      I think men your age can be very attractive. You don’t have to keep your shirt on at the beach. :) Unless of course, this makes *you* personally more comfortable.

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