While leafing through our New York Times Magazine yesterday, we noticed something curious: like Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Angelina Jolie hung, a spectral presence, over every page:
Okay, that's an exaggeration. But she figured prominently in two of the magazine's feature stories: the much-discussed cover profile of Megan Fox and the story on OctoMom Nadya Suleman. In neither case was this a coincidence; both women have been compared physically to Jolie and for a while, the tabs suggested that Suleman enjoyed a "fixation" on the large-brooded, pillow-lipped star.
The Fox piece devotes much ink to how much the starlet is like, or unlike, Jolie. The "striking" physical resemblance;" the willingness to fill Angie's "wild-child" shoes when she turned Madonna.
If there's an Angelina playbook, Fox followed it. She has seven or eight tattoos, depending on whom you ask, including a reference to "King Lear" ("We will all laugh at gilded butterflies") in gothic calligraphy on her upper back that stylistically mirrors a tattoo on Jolie's upper back. Like Jolie, Fox told journalists that she was bisexual, that the actress Olivia Wilde was "so sexy she makes me want to strangle a mountain ox with my bare hands." Fox emphasized the outrageous, especially in her first big cover article for GQ, in which she embroidered her love affair with the stripper Nikita, defined herself as a man in a sexy woman's body and announced her thoughts on Angelina. "I don't even consider her human," she said. "She's like a superhuman goddess...The Jolie comparison would probably have been made by the media eventually, but Fox sped up the process. By linking herself to Jolie, she sped up every process. And when Jolie became a mom and a good-will ambassador, Fox was ready to step into her shoes. It was an easy fit. Fox enjoyed creating entertaining copy. If she invented or amped up the scenarios, she could (theoretically) manage her image. And, like Jolie before her, she told entertaining tales of darkness and lust. "When I sit down to talk to men's magazines, there's a certain character that I play," she explained. "She's not fully fleshed out - she doesn't have her own name - but she shows up to do men's-magazine interviews. There's something so ridiculous about always being in your underwear in those magazines, and you know the interview is going to run opposite those pictures. So, there's a character that talks to all of them."
Fox calls the comparisons "the bane of my existence," and says she has more humor than the "stoic" Jolie. Similarly, Suleman, who has reportedly also pursued the likeness, "said she saw no resemblance whatsoever." Of course, these are two women who, arguably, are in the business of being famous - or at least, finding themselves in this position, have ridden the wave. One's a sex symbol, one's an embattled tabloid curiosity, but both have become public domain and have become, in the popular imagination, handy metaphors for facets of our collective desires and ethos. Angelina, of course, long since ceased to exist as a real person and became an icon. And it seems we don't even need the shorthand of Madonna/Whore any longer - just refer to different facets, or eras, of Angelina. She's a handy mirror to hold up. She's perfection, I guess - and everybody's just running towards and away from that.