Jennifer Aniston again.
It may seem hard to believe that people who always appear to be confident are as doubt-filled as the rest of us. Here is Jennifer Aniston responding with surprising candor to a question asked at a film festival in Italy. She was asked by a young girl if she ever woke up in the morning not knowing who she was. You’d think at this stage in her career, her life, such feelings would be far behind her. But not only are they not, but the very question caused the normally guarded Aniston to tear up.
“We’re all human beings at the end of the day, whether we’re a waitress or a baker or a student or whatever we are; at the end of the day, you kind of hit walls and think, I kind of can’t go any farther. Or this is too much. My heart can’t take it or the pain is too great, or am I good enough?”
She says “there are not enough fingers and toes” in the entire room for her to count how many times that has happened to her.
This in a nutshell is what Entertaining Welsey Shaw is about. Everyone thinks they “know” celebrities because they see them in wildly fantastic situations, being treated like royalty, being touted as living lives no one lives.
Of course there’s money and privilege, but one can have that and still be unhappy. But that aside, it’s clear these things don’t make insecurity disappear. Or unhappiness. Welsey tells Daniel near the end of the novel that she spends most of her nights “in here” (her apartment) alone, with the TV for company. Even if your TV is bigger and your apartment nicer, it can be a lonely life. But no one understands. Which only makes it lonelier. So you’re isolated by the very nature of your loneliness, despite the fact that it’s the same feeling anybody else has. Nah, couldn’t be the same.
Which makes it more astonishing that this girl’s simple question made Jennifer shed tears, and blot her eyes with a tissue. I’m trying to remember the last time I’ve seen a celebrity so unguarded in public and failing. And it happened with a celebrity who’s famous for her detached demeanor, her control, her desire to project herself with every hair in place.
“Am I good enough?” It was impressive that she admitted—to the world: to casting agents and fellow actors and the likes of TMZ—that she’s not secure.
Jennifer Aniston is tired of people judging her by her body.
Her…well, look at the picture.
The perpetually-in-the-news-even-though-she-hasn’t-done-anything-notable-in-decades actress complained recently about all the body shaming that’s going on in Hollywood. She is among a growing number of stars who are angry because they can’t tuck into that bacon cheeseburger, as they have to keep their bodies perfect for the camera.
“The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty,” says Aniston.
Sounds reasonable. But Piers Morgan is having none of it.
The British-born celebrity sleuth says the former Friends star has made her fortune off her bodacious bod, and should, basically, STFU, because she’s a hypocrite.
He says she’s reaped as much from the objectification as it’s taken from her. He says she’s helped create the attention by posing for dozens of magazine covers over the years that he says have been airbrushed to improve her looks.
Mr. Morgan continues
You may want to dismount from that high horse at this point, Jennifer.
There’s another reason why the media objectify and scrutinise famous women, and why little girls get confused about beauty and body image.
It’s this: female stars like Jennifer Aniston deliberately perpetuate the myth of ‘perfection’ by posing for endless magazine covers which have been airbrushed so much that in some cases the celebrity is virtually unrecognisable.
Not a sympathetic ear, is he?
But he makes a point. The manipulators benefit from the manipulating.
Welsey Shaw certainly knows how to do this, as do all great celebrities. (And yes, there are “great” celebrities and “not so great” celebrities. Some just can’t handle fame, and whatever their talents they disappear in a tear. Others with no great talents seem to be with us forever.)
She would say it’s fair game, that you use all the tools you have at your disposal, and when you’re in your 20s and 30s, your bodacious bod is one. Aniston has probably made enough dough off her flesh to afford her scrumptious $22 million Bel Air mansion. With that as the reward, being airbrushed doesn’t seem like too much of an indignity, does it?
Alas, most of us will never know.
With people feeling humiliated having to go through TSA screenings, perhaps complaining about a little magazine cheesecake seems a bit whiny.
On the other hand, a lot of stars surely get sick of being asked if they’re pregnant every time they put on ten pounds. Welsey Shaw goes through that experience in my novel too. There are constantly rumors she’s pregnant, and she doesn’t like it one bit.
At another point Morgan says, “I’ve been in numerous Beverly Hills restaurants when she’s walked in, and watched as every table descended into an instant frenzy of elbow-nudging and staged whispers. I suspect the same thing happens wherever she dines in the world.”
He seems to miss the point: she can’t control this and probably doesn’t like it.
It gets old really quick.
Here’s Aniston’s entire text.
And here’s Morgan’s entire reply.
Does he have a point? Or is his point of view off-base?
Jennifer Lopez shared an intimate scripted moment with her fans recently.
If that sounds surreal, like something you could only hear in the 21st century, well, it is. In this era of constant celebrity, non-stop electronic surveillance and a Trumanshowesque inability to separate real from manufactured, there’s no off switch anymore. And few people seem to grasp how utterly surreal it all is.
First that last reference: remember the movie The Truman Show? At the time it was ballyhooed because it was one of the first, if not the first “serious” films that Jim “Rubberface” Carrey did. But the real amazing aspect of TTS was simply how prescient it was. It accurately forecast the reality craze of today, and more importantly, the inability and unwillingness to separate staged reality from, well, real reality, as bizarre as that sounds—or would have sounded as little as ten years ago.
In the movie, in case you missed it, Truman Burbank (great name!) starts to suspect his life is actually a staged television show, as he notices the same people reappearing in almost scripted ways throughout his day. In one brilliant moment early on, what appears to be a shooting star lands near him as he walks by. The “star” is really an arc light that fell out of the ceiling/sky.
Turns out Truman’s entire life takes place on a giant soundstage that resembles the real world. All the people he meets are actors clocking in and playing scripted roles, as a TV audience watches Truman eat, sleep, work, play, and seriously, who knows what else?, every single day. (The film was made shortly before the term “sex tape” entered the common vocabulary.) Truman Burbank, it turns out as the movie goes on, is the unwitting “star” of his own 24-hour reality show.
There’s just one tiny thing the film gets wrong: he doesn’t like his predicament one bit. The celebs of today (Madonna, JLo, Britney, Jennifer Aniston, Brangelina) and non-celebs (Octomom, Gloria Allred, Snooki, JWoww, the staff at TMZ) and semi-celebs (the Kardashians, the Baldwins, Audrina, LiLo, whoever won American Idol‘s last round) love it, are addicted to it, and they seek it out like a junkie going after a fix. I can imagine if Kim Kardashian had to choose between the thrill she gets when she sees the paps outside Spago and and sex, sex would go by the wayside. Normal people, like Truman Burbank (again, gotta love that name!) would find it stressful and unpleasant to live their lives like a movie script, to have their sexual encounters, their “intimate thoughts” (or what passes for them), their loves and hates and breakups and reconciliations, broadcast for all to see, but for a growing number of people, both these known ones and all the thousands or millions of bloggers and webcammers who telegraph their lives to us, this way of living is unobjectionable. Preferable even.
Which brings me to Jenny From The Block. At a recent concert she “got intimate” with her fans, singing songs about love and loss from her heart, then breaking up in tears. This is in the wake of her split with Marc Anthony, someone who I thought hadn’t had a lover since Cleopatra, but that, it turns out, is a different Mark Anthony. I was half-expecting tweets: “Clee dead, asp bite, bummer. Canceling Spagos tonight.”
Then Ms. Lopez said these simple, utter, heartfelt, poignant words.
Oops, no, I meant these words:
(Though I do think JLo’s been watching Notting Hill a little too much lately.)
Still, this is, ya gotta admit, really intimate, revealing stuff. JLo may have traded the streets for the 90210 zip, but the gal knows how to keep it real.
…Except that, well, later she admitted the whole moment was kind of, um, yeah, staged. You know, the way “thousands” of Iraqis cheered as the U.S. toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein, only this may have been even less real.
Speaking of Iraq, the whole JLo incident reminded me of a personal experience some years ago. Just before the first Gulf War, I happened to be at Lincoln Center at a Mandy Patinkin concert. He talked to the audience between numbers, made some self-deprecating jokes, and at one point seemed to become overwhelmed in his thoughts and, breaking from whatever subject was at hand, blurted out, “I pray there will not be war!” The audience, still in an overall pacifistic state of mind, gave him the standing-o.
I enjoyed the concert, since it was heavy on Sondheim, and decided to see the show again the very next night. And again, Mandy became snared in his emotions during a monologue about life, got a perfect catch in his throat, and said, “I pray there will not be war!”
And the audience rose to its feet.
But that’s just small potatoes, one comment. Technology has made this sort of blurring impossible to separate, and available (and expected) 24/7. Some stars try very hard to have separate, roped-off lives, but they are fewer in number and, sadly, risk stalling their careers if they aren’t performing, enticing, shocking, and mocking all the time. There is no longer, as I said, an off switch. Just as CGI has allowed fantasy and reality to merge seamlessly, so have, even more so, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TMZ.
Yes, Jennifer Lopez shared an intimate scripted moment with her fans recently. It’s something that you couldn’t have said a few years ago, for it would have made no sense, and certainly would have been contradictory, like Quantum Physics and Relativity. But no more.
Welcome to the 21st century. Fasten your seatbelts. The old laws don’t apply anymore. What this ultimately means is anyone’s guess. I’m waiting for Truman Show 2 to sort it out for me.