A week ago the world heard that the Brangelina coupling was uncoupling. Vogue magazine noted that their uncoupling signaled “the day love died.” Oh my, that’s heavy. Brangelina had been together for 12 years, with two of those years being ones in which they were married. Just goes to show they shouldn’t have married. I jest.
I went into my office that morning quite dismayed as were several of my other colleagues. No one could quiet put their finger on it, but they were a little upset. Of course, I work in Los Angeles now and thus everything here is touched in some way by Hollywood. I readily admitted that I had always been team Jolie. Aniston’s perkiness irritated me. For me, Aniston was the epitome of Hollywood. And while I may now live in Los Angeles, I am and always will be a New Yorker. Which means we are a bit darker in our nature. Jolie had been dark and odd and had turned herself around. She was still odd, but she became a mother and apparently a caring one at that. She became a goodwill ambassador. And yes, some found ways to make fun of all that “goodwill” and bad-girl reformation that Jolie engaged in. I thought, well why not?
As someone who has always loved the grand city of New Orleans, I liked the fact that they bought a house in New Orleans. I also loved that they allowed their child space to explore her identity. They seemed like cool and caring parents. Although, I did wonder how it was that the kids got any sort of real education. I imagined that they are a close-knit family and can rely on each other. Yet, it must be challenging to not make a ton of solid friends in school. Then again, I just read a study that found that bullying really takes a hold starting in the 6th grade. The specter of school bullying really scares me and hope my son will not be bullied.
What I most admired, was Brangelina’s proactive efforts to address her family’s cancer history. Sure, they were a glamorous, power couple. Yet, they had a scary, life altering decision to make that many other non-glamorous couples have to face year after year. As a public health advocate I followed the impact of her public discussion of her double mastectomy. She decided to undergo a double mastectomy after genetic tests showed she carried a mutated BRCA1 gene predisposing her to developing breast cancer. A year or so thereafter, she had her ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed after a blood test showed markers that could be a sign of early ovarian cancer. At each of those moments the Brangelina image was alive and well. They were one and they each were supportive of each other. In 2013, when she had the double mastectomy, Brad Pitt noted “This is a happy day for our family”. Such a statement might seem weird and gruesome on its face. But he noted it was a happy day because the surgery meant that Jolie was going to have a long and healthy life, with him and their children.
Such disclosure on both their parts, seems to have had a wide public health effect. In the journal Breast Cancer Research, researchers found their to be some truth to the the so-called ‘Angelina Jolie effect’ on the increase of people inquiring about risk-reducing surgeries and as well as an increase in the number of referrals to genetic testing facilities. There has also been an increase in the number of preventative double mastectomies that have been performed since the disclosure. Brangelina may have been a weird, larger-than-Hollywood couple, but they had an impact on something more than just the movies we watch and the popcorn we eat.
So, I cared for a second about their breakup. Lets hope they figure out this divorce thing and it either remains private or somehow gets turned into something for the greater good.