I’m loosely affiliated with a group of mid-life bloggers called Generation Fabulous. By “loosely affiliated” I mean that I was invited to join the group after a friend of a friend who is one of the group’s founders read my post about Match.com. I was and am thrilled to be a part of the group. I don’t post with them very often, primarily because I still think I’m in my late 30s (which I definitely am not) rather than in mid-life. This is my own issue, not proud of it, blah blah blah. Also, I mostly write about superficial stuff and my posts about being annoyed by Beyonce and Gwyneth’s friendship don’t look too good next to pieces about caring for our aging parents.
Even though I don’t post much, I love what the Gen Fabbers are doing and I think it’s cool that marketers are starting to pay attention to this very influential demographic. Until recently it seemed like they were only interested in mommy bloggers. I like to keep up with what’s happening and there is some really great writing happening in the group.
One of the ways I keep up is via a group Facebook page. This morning, someone posted a link to a site which claims to have “proof” that Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy was “part of a clever corporate scheme to protect billions in BRCA gene patents and influence Supreme Court decision.”
The link led to a site that I don’t want to link to here. But in short, the writer claims that there is “proof” that Angelina Jolie is in cahoots with Big Pharma and is engaged in a plot to pull the wool over the eyes of women around the world, convincing them to undergo expensive, unnecessary testing. Presumably, she is doing this so that she can roll around in piles of money and cackle crazily? I guess?
The writer is not alone in this belief. Right away, members of the group started chiming in with accusations about Angie’s motivations for her public disclosure. I commented that I doubted the site’s credibility due to the inflammatory, anti-Obama, conspiracy theory language. And the cheesy ads. What followed was an unfriendly exchange that ended when one of my fellow bloggers wrote “…sheeple” in response to my comment.
This is where I hand you my shoes and earrings, smear Vaseline on my face, and jump in to defend Angelina Jolie. Specifically, to defend her against accusations that she shared her medical decision for money, publicity and new boobs.
Let’s get the accusation that I am starstruck out of the way. I can’t stand Angelina. It’s almost a joke how much I don’t like her. So, my personal feelings about her are not why I’m questioning the “corporate scheme” theory. In fact, my feelings for her make it harder to defend her, not easier.
People are suggesting that she owns stock in Myriad Genetics, the company that holds the patent on the test she elected to have. The company has been embroiled in a lengthy court battle since trying to patent two genetic mutations that cause cancer. The ACLU filed a lawsuit claiming that corporate ownership of human genes is unconstitutional. (Seems kinda true?) There are suggestions that the timing of Angie’s story is “too convenient” to be a coincidence, with a Supreme Court decision on the case expected this summer.
Yes, Myriad Genetics stock hit a 52-week high within days of her announcement. And that was probably because of her announcement.
But to suggest that someone like Angelina Jolie would undergo a painful and scary double mastectomy to get some of that Big Pharma money is CRAY-ZEE. Do people understand how much money the Pitt-Jolie family is rolling in? They’ve got stacks on stacks on stacks!* Wouldn’t the risk of being outed as part of a for-profit corporate scheme discourage her from undergoing and announcing an expensive and difficult procedure in exchange for money? Sorry. Not buying it.
Even though I don’t want to be friends with her, I honestly believe that Angelina Jolie wants to leave a legacy of having made the world better. She’s annoying and sanctimonious at times – and her child army freaks me out – but I believe she is motivated by a desire to use her considerable power to make lives better. Maybe she wants that because she’s vain and self-important. Who cares?
And there are suggestions that she did it for publicity. “She’s so private. Why would she make a public announcement about something so personal?” What? These people aren’t even remotely private. Does anyone else remember their 51 page spread in W magazine while he was still married to Jennifer Aniston? They get plenty of attention. Angie doesn’t need publicity badly enough to CUT OFF HER BOOBS for it. Please.
“But women who don’t need this test/procedure are gonna run out and do it because a celebrity did it!” No, they’re not. Stop it. Part of the criticism she’s faced since her announcement is that she was able to afford a $4,000 test not covered by insurance. Most women can’t afford that. No one is going to “run out” because of her. Maybe what they will do is open a dialogue with their own doctors. Maybe by raising awareness, she’s placing some pressure on the industry to make the testing more accessible.
I don’t know. And neither does anyone else. But to suggest that someone who is already this wealthy and powerful, who is basically a unicorn because of her stunning beauty, would undergo a radical surgery like this for money or publicity seems just beyond.
Now. Can I please go back to disliking her in peace?
* This is a terrible video. I do not endorse it. Just wanted to illustrate the phrase “stacks on stacks.”