A 'Spoiled Brat'? Actually, No. Angelina Jolie Earned Her Success

Angelina Jolie sends young women all sorts of messages: that you can both be a mom and successful businesswoman, that it’s important to take a stand on issues you care about, and that making a healthy choice “in no way diminishes [your] femininity”. But the most irritating message young women will likely get this week about the award-winning actor is that even if you cultivate the image of a near-saint, there will still be a man waiting to cut you down.

In one of Sony Pictures’ many hacked emails, producer Scott Rudin called Jolie, an Oscar winner and recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, “a minimally talented spoiled brat”.

Rudin, the producer of such films as No Country for Old Men and The Social Network, sounded off in an exchange with Sony’s co-chairman Amy Pascal. He was irate that Jolie wanted director David Fincher to work on her version of Cleopatra, rather than direct a new Steve Jobs biopic.

“There is no movie of Cleopatra to be made (and how that is a bad thing given the insanity and rampaging ego of this woman and the cost of the movie is beyond me),” he wrote.

I don’t know Jolie, so I suppose it’s possible she’s an ego monster of epic proportions – and it’s certainly not news that Hollywood power players badmouth each other. But I find it quite irritating – and more than a little telling – that so many of the entertainment industry’s “brats”, “prima donnas” and “divas” are of the female persuasion. What? Russell Crowe isn’t a brat?

When male stars act the fool, it’s seen as part of their rakish charm. Get in bar fights, go home with 20 womenscream at co-workers – it’s all good. But a successful, widely-talented and powerful woman who dedicates her time to international humanitarian causes? She’s a “brat”. It’s an insult that you’d use to describe an unruly child, not a grown woman. And “spoiled”? Jolie’s success wasn’t handed to her. She created it.

Perhaps, as the Guardian’s Brian Moylan writes, “Pascal and Rudin are talking about their co-workers the same way that we do”. But everyday double standards (he’s the boss, she’s a bitch) are rife among “normals”, so it makes sense that they’d infiltrate the notoriously misogynist film industry. That doesn’t make it right.

I have no doubts that in Hollywoodland, there are more than a few healthy egos (Rudin’s included). It seems necessary to the job description. But in a town where women fare so poorlyon both the business and entertainment side, it seems like Hollywood should learn a thing or two about how best to describe the women who deign to stay – and succeed – despite the obstacles. “Patient” is one I’d go with. “Ambitious”. “Smart”. But “brat”? Let’s save that one for producers with limited vocabularies.

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