Tuesday, February 21, 2017

As TV bosses trumpet bizarre audience with Angelina Jolie as if it's the Second Coming, JAN MOIR asks: Why must the Beeb fawn over celebrities?

By Jan Moir for the Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 23:32 GMT, 20 February 2017

Deep in the Cambodian jungle, a strange creature is stirring. A creature who is familiar to millions yet somehow unfamiliar. Known and yet unknown. The same but somehow very, very different.

Those twiglet arms: should we be worried? Why so many tattoos — her back looks like she slept on a wet newspaper. And what has happened to her mouth, it seems . . . sshh! Here she comes. All bow down. Lower. I said lower! No, I mean a proper BBC degree of obsequience. Get your nose in the dirt, and stay there.

For wouldn’t you agree that the Beeb’s bizarre audience with Angelina Jolie this week plumbed new depths of grovel?

Glamorous BBC News journalist Yalda Hakim met the Hollywood superstar and ultra-caring humanitarian in a forest clearing in Cambodia.

Both women were barefoot and sat cross-legged on the ground, facing each other. This made them look as if they were relaxing in a spa, having a post-yoga chat about their favourite herbal tea. Instead, Hakim was to interview Jolie for Sunday’s News At Ten, about First They Came For My Father, the film she has directed about the Cambodian genocide.

I say interview. I mean sat there in fawning silence as Mother Angelina unleashed a stream of nutty statements about the Cambodian massacres (she has decided it is her role to educate Cambodians about it); about increasingly divisive societies due to the rise in populist leaders (‘we have to rise up and find our rational centre’); and, of course, about how much she worries about the world and everyone in it. ‘I value human life, equally. Every single individual life,’ she said.

Maybe so, St Ange, but there sure seems to be one person who is exempt from your global emotional largesse — your soon-to- be-ex-husband Brad Pitt.

For worst of all were the snide, richly camouflaged but glancing blows which Miss Jolie landed on him during the interview. By refusing to use Pitt’s name, or address him as a husband and father, she was allowed, without challenge, to subtly paint a darker picture of his role in their break-up.

‘We will get through this time and hopefully be a stronger family,’ she said, her pillowy lips trembling like a pair of earthworms having a seizure. Would Brad be part of the family post-divorce? Angelina did not say. She was too busy making an effort to look brave and noble, despite life’s ghastly travails. And Yalda Hakim did not ask.

Look. I don’t really blame Miss Hakim, the 33-year-old sometime host of the Impact programme on BBC News. After all, she took the trouble to publish her ‘very own emoji’ digital cartoon of her own face as she prepared to report from the red carpet at Jolie’s film premiere in Angkor Wat.

And on her Instagram account, Miss Hakim posted photographs of new pal Jolie frying some ‘bugs’ for the film’s cast members. Caring for the world and cooking? My goodness, that woman is a saint.

I’m afraid to say Miss Hakim’s slavish attitude is reflective of a Corporation-wide feebleness about mega-celebrities in general — Bono and the gang — and Angelina Jolie in particular.

Sensible broadcasters go to pieces when faced with A-list stars. A particular low point was Kirsty Wark’s pat-a-cake interview with Madonna in 2008, which was reverently conducted in a candlelit lair of crushed muslin. When the pop singer dismissed a report in The Guardian about her adopted African son as lies, Miss Wark failed to take her to task.

I’d like to see Tory politicians try the same tack — Kirsty would have torn them apart and baked their livers in a tasty terrine.

The normal rigour and standards don’t seem to apply when it comes to the very famous — and the BBC and other broadcasters are not the only ones at fault when it comes to Miss Jolie.

The United Nations make a special effort to lay praise at her feet. And normally sensible people like William Hague have their heads turned, too. As Foreign Secretary, he ran after Angelina like a devoted lapdog — and was instrumental in the actress receiving an honorary damehood in 2014.

That same year he co-hosted a high-profile London summit with Jolie about rape in war zones — and later came under criticism when it was revealed that it cost more than £5 million.

As her film career slumps into insignificance and praise for her directorial skills is noticeable by its absence, the only thing left is the humanitarian work that means so much to her.

Perhaps that is why, for the BBC and others, Angelina exists on an unimpeachable plane high above ordinary mortals. And while she has certainly done some good in the world, does she really deserve such worship?

‘What do you really want to do when you wake up in the morning?’ Makim asked, which was about as challenging as it got.

This kind of guff is bad enough on chat shows, where celebrities collude with the hosts to show themselves in a good light. The recent knighthood row with David Beckham revealed how Jonathan Ross was primed by Beckham’s agent to ask him a supportive question about it. Which he did.

However, we should be wary of empty fluff masquerading as news appearing on BBC bulletins.

The words printed on the TV screen during the Jolie interview told their own story of boastful excitement: ‘BBC World News Exclusive!’ Shown for seven interminable minutes on the BBC News channel, and in shorter form in bulletins around the world, it set a new high in toadying lows.

It was a bungle in the jungle, unnecessarily dismissive of a former husband and the father of Angelina’s six children. However, like a depressingly huge number of women today, she seems determined to portray herself — in this situation at least — as a victim.

And what does Angelina like to do in the morning? Well, there was a lot of guff about pancakes with the kids, taking the dogs for a walk, teeth brushing and playing with hamsters.

Innocent enough? No. For once again it was pushing this preposterous notion — perpetuated by soon-to-have-twins Beyonce and other celebrity mums — that being a mother is somehow an extraordinary accomplishment.

The thing is, making breakfast and attending to family pets is perfectly normal. Millions of women do it every day.

So that’s why I can’t quite join in the adulation of this odd, calculating woman.

Barefoot or not, in the end it was another of her tightly controlled interviews that puts Angelina front and centre as the good one, and pushes Brad Pitt into the villainous shadows. And that’s not news, it’s propaganda.

not mine.credit and source: DAILY MAIL

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