Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bisexuals a bit less jolly today

I don’t think it’s just my age that makes me feel decidedly underwhelmed that Angelina Jolie is perhaps, maybe, just possibly, not actively bisexual any more.
According to Nicole Kristal, on the website After Ellen, the undoubtedly pulchritudinous Ms Jolie has consigned her bisexuality to the past. And Ms Kristal is bereft.
I’m not. I’m sure I’ve written before about my ambivalent feelings towards bisexual (female) celebrities, or rather, as Kristal’s piece rightly has it The Pop-Tart Publicity Whore Bisexual. You can’t trust celebrities, “bi” or otherwise. And I’m not sure they are doing real bisexual people any favours.
Celebrities aren’t real. They have publicists who decide which bits of the person we can see, where they can go, what they can do, the public words that come out of their mouths. Including the B one. And whether or not they should be pawing other celebrities.
Of course, when you’re young, and alone, you need role models. You need people who are successfully doing what you’d like to. Obviously, in a way, celebrities are the best people to do this – after all, they are in the public eye. You can see what they’re doing. But we can’t rely on them to act consistently, or do something if their PR people tell them it might involve the loss of money/status/fill in gap here.
Angelina Jolie is a celebrity, the daughter of celebrities, the wife of another. That is her job, not being an actress, mother, goodwill ambassador for the UN or anything like that. She doesn’t operate under the same rules as the rest of the world. She lives in celebrityland, an other-worldly place built on money, whose inhabitants can do whatever they like as long as they realise that they cannot be themselves. (This, of course, exacts its price – Britney Spears, another possible bi gal, is currently paying it.)
So who knows what Jolie’s real motives are in anything at all? At the moment, she seems to exist to be a larger than life character whose current role is as the 21st century’s answer to Mia Farrow: earth mother extraordinaire. There’s not much space for bisexuality – or any sexuality – in that.

And another one

I feel a bit the same (yawnsome) about Ani DiFranco – who was interviewed in the Guardian yesterday without “bisexual” being mentioned once. Strange, when according to Jennifer Baumgardner, whose book I mentioned in a post not so long ago, Ani DiFranco was almost single-handedly responsible for the increase in young American women’s bisexuality in the mid 90s. But that can’t be true, surely? Were there no other social factors involved? Even David Bowie – who really did encourage a whole lot of young men to “try it out” – was part of a glamrock movement and a culture that was challenging how men and women dressed and behaved.
Angelina Jolie may or may not still be bisexual. The same goes for any other bi celebrity – past or present. But if we rely on them – rather than less celestial beings - to show us the way, then we really are sunk.


Jen said...

I'm not really convinced by the interpretation put on Angelina's words. "I've never hidden my bisexuality, but since I've been with Brad, there's no longer a place for that or S&M in my life" could just mean that she's not "doing" anything whether sex or SM with anyone else because she's getting all she needs and wants right now from that relationship. It's not like there's an obvious "I was bi but now I'm not" line in there.

Indeed, it's the kind of thing we need people to be able to say and still be counted as "one of us" if we're not to fall into the same bis-can't-be-monogamous trap we'd be furious at other people for.

Winter said...

I can see why this phenomenon is so frustrating. These celebs ultimately confirm the idea that bisexuality isn't a real sexuality.

Sue George said...

Jen: it could mean your interpretation, or what Nicole Kristal takes it to mean. But AJ wasn't clear herself - and her main interest now does seem to be as a professional earthmother. Of course, being any kind of mother doesn't preclude you from being bi (or of any sexuality). Definitely definitely bis can be monogamous.

Winter: the thing that really gets my goat, and does its part towards making bisexuality not look real, is this bloody celebs implying that they are attracted to women when they aren't really. That doesn't apply to AJ.
But yes, it is hugely frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Angelina Jolie does not have a publicist =) just thought I'd add that!