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Thread: Newsweek readers question Angelina Jolie's sincerity and a whole lot more

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    Default Newsweek readers question Angelina Jolie's sincerity and a whole lot more

    East Windsor, NJ: I understand that Jolie believes that Israel has no right to exist. Does her vision of world peace mean a world without Jews?

    Sean Smith: I did not ask her about Israel, but Danny Pearl, the man she just made a movie about, was Jewish, so I find it hard to believe that her vision of world peace means a world without Jews.

    _______________________
    Orlando, FL: Why did Jolie not adopt children from her own country, the United States, and why does she still not speak with her own father even though he's apologized to her?

    Sean Smith: I got a lot of questions about this, so I'll answer them all here. I don't know why she isn't choosing to adopt American children. It's a personal choice she's made, clearly. I know from personal experience that poverty in other parts of the world is much, much worse than it is here, and that may be part of the reason. I know Angelina also sees herself as a global citizen. Just on a human level, it seems to me that if she's saving three kids' lives, does it matter what flag they were born under? That's purely my personal take on the matter. But,as I said, I'm afraid I didn't ask her about this.
    _______________________
    Birmingham, AL: Jolie talked about being not being a racist, I want to know during the interview did she make any mentions of "Z" to you? I have followed Jolie for many years but I have yet to read her mentioning "Z" and have seen one maybe two pictures of her with "Z"? I do not believe she is a racist, but one has to wonder if "Z" adoption was for publicity.

    Sean Smith: She talked about "Z" a lot, actually. I had a whole section in the story about the kids that had to be cut for space reasons, and I only saw her with Maddox (Z was taking a nap), so that's why Z's not more prominent in the story. She says Z is really strong willed and funny and screams whenever Brad dances until he stops. And no, I don't think she did it for publicity. She doesn't need anymore, frankly.
    _______________________
    New York, NY: As a development academic and mother of 2 children—with family members working for the UNHCR—in, yes, that's right, Darfur—I think the tone of the article is absurd. It is uncritical, fawning and deeply disturbing. The mythologizing tone you take when you say, for example, "her eyes never leave his face" (when taking about her seeing her son at the end of the day) is ridiculous. What about where was she all day while he was doing these new things? Why he was in a room alone? Indeed, the vast majority of mothers do look at their children when they speak....in fact, one wonders, Mr. Smith if in regular conversations your eyes wander aimlessly? It is certainly a Good thing that she is engaged and interested in the world around her, but there are 6 billion individuals on this planet and a great many of them have dedicated their lives to the development and aid of those less fortunate. Certainly I have no doubt she is relatively well versed in the subject of Int dev/aid—but so are the thousands of specialists at universities, think tanks and in the field doggedly working on. To promote her to a seat at the Council for Foreign Affairs (as well as Davos) is disturbing at best and, at worst, a sign of things to come as we enter a Big-Brother Reality-led Simulacrum of Art representing Art representing Life. I think she is doing good with her life, and is clearly a role model for the young Hollywood set. But, and its an important But, to promote her as an Icon of the 21st century for the greater world at large, is most likely the illusion of Newsweek, which seems to be less unlike US Weekly than it would suppose.
    My question for Mr. Smith is when did rigorous journalistic inquiry and critical thought (not to be confused with mindless criticism) become the order of the day at Newsweek? One wonders that if Ms. Jolie was less beautiful, would her deeds carry as much weight with the media. As her overall experience, while good, is certainly nowhere near enough to garner her the accolades she has received if she were to be held up against many of those actually working in world development (rather than, as has been the case thus far, as a modern day saint in Comparison to those simply Watching world development take place and not involved).
    Still, in an article where Brad Pitt (who was in his late 30's before he even managed to make it over to Africa) says that Jolie and Pearl are like "Churchill and Roosevelt" (?)—one can only wonder at how little else he is aware of. In such a context Mr. Smith, you did little to offer the reader with anything even approaching international-level journalism.

    Sean Smith: I'm sorry that you think I was fawning. I addressed the criticism against her, I thought, in the story. Yours is the angriest question I've received, but there are others, so I'll address them all here. I am not Angelina's friend, or publicist. I will likely never speak to her again. I have no stake, one way or the other, in how she is perceived, nor do I have any concern with whether she likes the story or not. (And, by the way, I don't know.) My job is to research her, spend time with her, think about her, talk to other people who know her, and tell you what I've learned. If she was a bitch, or narcissistic, or cruel or stupid, I would have told you. Why wouldn't I? What you read in this story is my experience with her. I believe her to be involved and sincere. She's been doing it for six years, so it's clearly not a lark. As for your question about whether she would get this much attention if she weren't beautiful, I think you're absolutely right that she wouldn't. Look at all the attention you've paid her, and you don't even like her. One more thing, Brad Pitt was being really light-hearted when he compared Angelina and Mariane Pearl to Roosevelt and Churchill. I thought the context of his quote made that clear, but I may have not shown that well. He was kind of kidding, and being cute. Clearly, they're not Roosevelt and Churchill. Even to him.
    _______________________
    Austin, TX: How well has Pax picked up English since he was adopted. Has it been difficult to communicate with him?

    Sean Smith: When I was with her in November, she hadn't adopted Pax yet, so I don't know, I'm afraid.
    _______________________
    South Houston, TX: Did she go to college?

    Sean Smith: No,she didn't.
    _______________________
    Memphis, TN: I know people will think I am just being a 'feminist' here but something I have noticed with Oprah, Madonna, Hillary Clinton and now Angelina Jolie. Although very different, they are all extremely powerful, influential and EXTREMELY divisive. People either love, love, love them or hate them. Do you think that the U.S. still has a problem with this type of intense power being in the hands of women?

    Sean Smith: This is a great question, and I think you've really hit on something. And oddly, I think it's primarily women who have this problem with powerful women. I don't know why. Truly. I remember being really struck by people's anger that Oprah built a schoool for girls in Africa instead of doing it here. The irony is, all of these women could just sit in their palaces and be completely isolated by their wealth, and the choose to go out into the world and try and do something positive. As soon as they do, they get attacked. It's strange to me. I'm not saying Angelina, or any of these women, is a saint, but what harm are they doing, to anyone? It's not like they started a war under false pretenses or even used government funds for something. I'm afraid I don't have an answer here, but the question does fascinate me. I should probably do an entire story on this topic.
    _______________________

    Los Angeles, CA: I'm a 30-year-old Asian American who immigrated here at age 1 with my family. I am also an activist who has been working with low income communities of color here in the US, making $11-13/hour, working 2 jobs at a time at non-profit organizations for the past 8 years. I am currently working with foster youth and poor "orphans" here in California. I know people are always criticizing Angelina since she's in the public eye. Well I'm in that group. I used to really admire herbecause I thought she was different than other celebrities who were so full of themselves. But I'm starting to feel really irritated by headlines that say that she and Brad and other Hollywood-ers are going to save the world. I get frustrated because there are so many activists here who have dedicated their entire lives to creating change in their communities, the unsung heroes who don't get 1/1000 of the headlines you guys do. She adopts a few kids and makes a movie in blackface and I'm supposed to believe she is going to eradicate poverty? Please! It doesn't even seem she is aware of how much privilege her and Brad have as white movie stars, and to me it just sounds like she is collecting babies around the world like they are dolls or something. I'm so sick of hearing about her and her kids. Either just be a movie star, and stop talking about saving the world and collecting babies of color; or help give a voice to all of the activism OTHER PEOPLE are doing also--she has the power, use it wisely. Don't be a megalomaniac.

    Sean Smith: Your frustration here is not with Angelina, but with the media. She does, in fact, go lots of places without cameras, and works with refugees with no one looking at all. I had a section on that in the story that didn't make it into the final version, becasue of space restrictions. It would be a wonderful world if people who do good work—non-famous, non-beautfiul ones—were rewarded and covered as much as stars are. She is aware of her privilege, by the way. How could she not be? You know, she really could just stay at home in her mansion in LA. and go to parties and things, and adopt no one. Would things really be better if she did?
    _______________________
    Kennebunk, MN: What did Jon Voigt do to Angelina throughout her life that pushed her to the extreme of disowning him?

    Sean Smith: He was a semi-absentee father most of her life. They reconciled during the making of the Tomb Raider sequel. When she adopted Maddox, he went on television and questioned her mental health. She said at the time that she didn't think it was healthy to have Voight in her life.
    _______________________
    Eagan, MN: Does Angelina Jolie feel remorse at all for her actions and choices she has made regarding Jennifer Aniston? When Brad and Jennifer were married they had planned on Jennifer playing the role. It seems like Jolie just keeps pushing the dagger deeper and deeper into Aniston's heart and soul.

    To do what she (Jolie) has done to another will return sometime to herself. How does she live daily with herself and all of the extreme exposure while hurting Jennifer?

    Sean Smith: I got a lot of questions on this topic about this, too. I don't know why Pitt and Aniston broke up. Frankly, I can't tell you why MY last relationship ended. The only two people who really know what happened in relationship are the two people in it. Neither Jennifer, Brad or Angelina has ever said that Angelina "stole" him. She may have. She may not. I don't know. But neither does anyone else, and I'm perplexed by this need for us, as the American public, to cast something as complicated as a romantic relationship into a simple soap-opera narrative, with a good girl and a bad girl. I do know this in general: when a relationship is happy and healthy, neither partner can be stolen by anyone.
    _______________________
    South Pasadena, CA: I am so tired of people doubting this woman who is so obviously a woman of great heart and integrity. She also seems to be very well-read and intelligent. Did you get that from her? I mean, holding your own with the likes of Bill Clinton, Diane Sawyer etc...I wouldn't think you could fake that. Did you feel as Marianne Pearl does in terms of learning things from her, that she is definitely a woman with things to say?

    Sean Smith: Yes, I did feel she was intelligent and informed on the issues. I agree that a lot of people are skeptical/cyncial about it. As I mentioned in an earlier reply to someone, if I felt she was false or dumb or self-aggrandizing, I would have reported that. In the time I spent with her, I found her to be calm, sincere, focused and educated on the issues that matter to her. I'm not saying she's a genius, just that she's not flitting about the world blindly. And yes, I do think she is shaping a complex and humane worldview for herself. I'll be interested to see who she becomes in the next decade.
    _______________________
    Warwick, NY: Does Angelina TRULY want to save the world or just look good for the media??? Personally I think she just wants to appear to be wholesome in the public eye.

    Sean Smith: This is too cyncial, even for me. And it's my job to be. She's been doing this for six years. If it's a lark just to get publicity, there are about 1 million easier ways to do that. Also, that headline is something one of my editors put on the story. I don't think she's trying to save the world, and she's never said so. I think she's just trying to be of use, and make some positive change. We really should not have put that headline on this story. It's inaccurate.
    _______________________
    LUDHIANA (PANJAB): Angelina could do a lot of good if she chose better roles, if she is going to act anyway. So why doesn't she do more work like "A Mighty Heart," and less like "Laura Croft: Tomb Raider"?

    Sean Smith: I agree. I hope "Heart" is the beginning of a trend.
    _______________________
    Budapest, Hungary: Isn't it a bit cliche that the most beautiful woman in the world is with the most beautiful man, it seems a little contrived. When speaking with Angelina was there ever, even for a second, a sense that she was coordinating this image of herself?

    Sean Smith: No. And if I had sensed that, I would have printed it. She seems very relaxed and comfortable in her own skin. I did not feel at all that she was putting on some sort of act. As for the most beautiful man being with the most beautiful woman, that doesn't seem contrived to me. That seems logical. Being with Billy Bob Thornton seemed stranger to me.
    _______________________
    Oceanside CA: Is Angelina Jolie married at the present time to Brad Pitt?
    Sean Smith: No, they're not married.
    _______________________
    Waukegan, IL.: Did the Muslim extremists know that Daniel Pearl was Jewish before they killed him? Or did his race come out after they had already done the deed?

    Sean Smith: Yes, they did know Daniel Pearl was Jewish before they killed him. They made him say, on videotape,before they beheaded him, "My mother is Jewish, my father is Jewish, I am Jewish."
    _______________________
    Plano, TX: Celebrities pushing charities is fashionable again. We went through this in the 80's with "We Are The World" and Live Aid. Most people involved in those projects have not publicly continued their support of charities in any large way since (except for Bono, Bob Geldof and a few others). What are the odds Angelina will continue this altruistic behavior, espcially since it seems to have started while she was involved with a married man and can be spun as good PR? I will respect her if she is still involved in these charities 15 years from now. She's no Bono or Audrey Hepburn, yet.

    Sean Smith: She started her refugee work four years before she met Brad, so it's not accurate that she did this to bolster her image. As for whether she'll contiune, I suspect she will. She seems very sincere about it, and interested in the world. We'll see.
    _______________________
    Lisbon: I know that she donates one-third of her income to charitable causes, that she has traveled to some 20 countries over the years as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees... but still people only seem to remember and talk about her past... How do you think Agelina feels about that?

    Sean Smith: I suspect it bothers her—it would have to—but she also knows that it's the way the world works. It's funny, people complain about the media trivializing things, but almost all the questions I got on this live talk were all about whether she stole Brad from Jennifer and why she doesn't do more in America. It seems to me that she—all of us --are global citizens, not just Americans, and if life is better in the worst parts of the world, it is better for us here, too. That just makes sense to me.

    Thank you all for your questions. This has been an educational experience for me. To say the least.

    Sincerely,
    Sean Smith


    Talk Transcript: Sean Smith on Angelina Jolie - Newsweek: World News - MSNBC.com

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    This is a great question, and I think you've really hit on something. And oddly, I think it's primarily women who have this problem with powerful women. I don't know why.

    I think this statement hits home, not just with Angelina, but with strong women in general. I've noticed that the women that seem to get the most hate or ripped the most are the ones that wield the greatest power and influence, and it's not just from women but from men too.

    Personally, I have no problem with strong women, since I grew up in a family full of them. But I think a lot of people are scared of women who seem to have so-called male traits like being strong, ambitious, independent, and powerful.

    Now I can understand men having a problem because it's an ego thing, but I never understood why some women view a strong woman as a threat or a predator. To me, it seems counter-productive for full equality for women to turn against a strong woman who is conquering the world on her terms.

    But, then again, the same thing is true with minorities too. You'll have some who are going for the gold, and others will turn on them and claim their selling out and forgetting their roots. Once again, being counter-productive.
    Last edited by kingcap72; June 22nd, 2007 at 05:32 PM.

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    Elite Member RevellingInSane's Avatar
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    Deep within the collective subconscious, the archaic notion that a powerful woman is a threat and an abomination, still lurks. It lies in stasis, only awakening when a female decides to embrace her own strength and move against the misogynistic current.



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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Deep within the collective subconscious, the archaic notion that a powerful woman is a threat and an abomination, still lurks. It lies in stasis, only awakening when a female decides to embrace her own strength and move against the misogynistic current.
    You're preaching from the pulpit today, Revelling!

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    Elite Member RevellingInSane's Avatar
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    Thanks for the support King!

    KC, you are a writer, if I remember correctly, right? It is one of those days when I feel completely in tune with the spiritual mind and not the logical mind, that can be contaminated with politics, mores, expectations, etc. Ever have those days? Creativity is heightened during these times too.

    Weird, but...enlightening and freeing.

    No, I am not high! I have been asked that twice today.



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    Memphis, TN: I know people will think I am just being a 'feminist' here but something I have noticed with Oprah, Madonna, Hillary Clinton and now Angelina Jolie. Although very different, they are all extremely powerful, influential and EXTREMELY divisive. People either love, love, love them or hate them. Do you think that the U.S. still has a problem with this type of intense power being in the hands of women?

    Sean Smith: This is a great question, and I think you've really hit on something. And oddly, I think it's primarily women who have this problem with powerful women. I don't know why. Truly. I remember being really struck by people's anger that Oprah built a schoool for girls in Africa instead of doing it here. The irony is, all of these women could just sit in their palaces and be completely isolated by their wealth, and the choose to go out into the world and try and do something positive. As soon as they do, they get attacked. It's strange to me. I'm not saying Angelina, or any of these women, is a saint, but what harm are they doing, to anyone? It's not like they started a war under false pretenses or even used government funds for something.


    This is a point that I and others here have made repeatedly -- and I'm glad to see it reinforced. As for questions about why she doesn't take her dad back into her life because he aplogized -- I'd say that is nobody's business but hers. Period.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Thanks for the support King!

    KC, you are a writer, if I remember correctly, right? It is one of those days when I feel completely in tune with the spiritual mind and not the logical mind, that can be contaminated with politics, mores, expectations, etc. Ever have those days? Creativity is heightened during these times too.

    Weird, but...enlightening and freeing.

    No, I am not high! I have been asked that twice today.
    Yeah, I'm a writer. And I've been feeling like that lately myself for the last couple of months. Which explains all the posts I have in such a short time. You get all of those thoughts and opinions racing through your mind and you've just got to find an outlet for it.

    And, no, I'm not high either.

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    I think there is some aspect of our culture, and I don't claim to understand it, that does raise girls to be competitive with each other on the basis of looks, intelligence, etc. I think this is something the media exacerbates, if not causes directly. I think that is one reason why strong women seem to inspire such divisive feelings in other women. BUT, I don't think it is primarily just other women who feel threatened by these strong women. I think men feed that machine as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    This is a great question, and I think you've really hit on something. And oddly, I think it's primarily women who have this problem with powerful women. I don't know why.

    I think this statement hits home, not just with Angelina, but with strong women in general. I've noticed that the women that seem to get the most hate or ripped the most are the ones that wield the greatest power and influence, and it's not just from women but from men too.

    Personally, I have no problem with strong women, since I grew up in a family full of them. But I think a lot of people are scared of women who seem to have so-called male traits like being strong, ambitious, independent, and powerful.

    Now I can understand men having a problem because it's an ego thing, but I never understood why some women view a strong woman as a threat or a predator. To me, it seems counter-productive for full equality for women to turn against a strong woman who is conquering the world on her terms.

    But, then again, the same thing is true with minorities too. You'll have some who are going for the gold, and others will turn on them and claim their selling out and forgetting their roots. Once again, being counter-productive.
    I don't get it either, King.

    I'm not nearly as eloquent as you, but I think it all boils down to jealousy in some way.

    Women need to (and should) stick together, but they do not. This is probably why men rule the world.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetness View Post
    I don't get it either, King.

    I'm not nearly as eloquent as you, but I think it all boils down to jealousy in some way.

    Women need to (and should) stick together, but they do not. This is probably why men rule the world.
    True. But you know what they say, the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. So, it makes you wonder who really does have the power?

    And don't short-change yourself, Sweetness. You're always eloquent, which is why I love your posts.

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    I am just going to throw something out there. Most women have dissenting opinions, but do not have the bravery to voice them, lest they be reprimanded for not knowing their place.

    When a woman comes along speaking her mind, getting what she deserves, and earning respect, others turn on her because she earned what they want.



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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    Yeah, I'm a writer. And I've been feeling like that lately myself for the last couple of months. Which explains all the posts I have in such a short time. You get all of those thoughts and opinions racing through your mind and you've just got to find an outlet for it.

    And, no, I'm not high either.
    Another writer on the board -- I'm so glad. Welcome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pacific breeze View Post
    Another writer on the board -- I'm so glad. Welcome.
    Thanks. It's always good to meet a fellow writer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    True. But you know what they say, the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. So, it makes you wonder who really does have the power?

    And don't short-change yourself, Sweetness. You're always eloquent, which is why I love your posts.
    Aww thank you, King!! You're a doll!

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    I feel a group hug coming on .

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