This Just In: Angelina Jolie Checks Reporter’s Privilege

Remember how I predicted that Angelina would tie this film’s promotion into humanitarian causes? I guess it wasn’t a big leap to make, but I was right, and I haven’t seen anyone report about it yet.

Now that I’ve covered the more superficial first Leg (see what I did there) of her Maleficent promotional tour, it’s time to cover the interviews she’s giving. I’ll be on a hunt for that Elle interview soon, but for now we have this press call with Angie, Elle Fanning, and the director.

I keep thinking about how unique this Maleficent promotion truly is.  It’s like nothing she’s done before, too. She’s more mature, motherly and accomplished than ever. In photo calls and press panels, you can see Elle Fanning’s calming effect on her; when she’s beside a child, she’s relaxed and straightforward and sweet and funny.

She’s smarter, too.  I was thrilled when she turned an awkward moment with a pushy reporter into an opportunity to remind everyone of their own privilege, even if it went undetected. What she said about art and poverty went over everyone’s heads, but it’s worth a listen. (The video is cued up to the second part of her answer, after the reporter asked about a recent legal push to remove punitive piracy measures for individual people. “Nothing really strong against these people,” she lamented in a telltale posh accent, literally using the words “these people” to describe the “massive” repercussions of bootlegged DVDs.)

Here’s the part that got my attention… when poor Elle tries to jump in (and reeeally reveals her own naïveté, which isn’t hard to do when you’re sitting next to Ange-f***ing-lina Jolie)…

Elle: If it’s hurting other people or any other businesses, it seems like it sounds wrong.

Angelina: You do want law, and you want law and order, but you know, at the same time, you hope people will be able to –

Elle interjects: … follow the rules…

Angelina: — afford to, and have access to all the art and culture that they want, and keep it affordable to them. So maybe that’s part of the answer, making it possible for people to….

 

And then the reporter cuts her off again to call piracy the biggest threat facing the entertainment industry, and suggests that it could obliterate movies and TV.  While it did transform the recording industry, that’s how technology works, and it’s frustrating how blindly people believe the rule of law is fair and equal, and how easily producers obscure the facts. This movie’s going to make millions upon millions of dollars above its production costs, and no matter how many crappy recorded versions leak online, it won’t make a dent in their profits.

Technology has been making art more accessible since the first camera was invented, and you can’t stop progress (or net neutrality… but that’s for another, fiery, angry post). Napster was shut down, and CDs might not be selling, but there’s no dearth of insufferable pop stars or record labels making insane money off nothing but artifice.

I could spin this into a dig at movie ticket prices, but we all know that Angelina is thinking about the refugee camps and military bases where bootleg DVDs are their one and only access to mainstream Hollywood movies. To restrict the entirety of her career so that only people with disposable incomes can enjoy it… that’s not why she acts. That’s not why people make movies. You don’t get to keep your little exclusive club of people who are “good” and “law-abiding” enough to fork over $15 for a movie ticket or $25 for a DVD… let alone those who live in a part of the world that even receives these products at all.

I think of that memoir I read about a former child soldier whose only relief came from bootlegged Jackie Chan movies… or that superstar actor who recalled visiting a small village and being recognized only for a role in a movie 15 years earlier, because that was literally the only movie anyone owned.

I also think about the six-year-old girl I see every week, and how she can’t afford new shoes but sees every kid’s movie before I have a chance to take her. (I thought seeing Frozen in a theater would be a rare treat for her… and I’d finally found an animated movie without too many ”scary bad guys”… but she saw it “on a computer” literally the day it came out.)

So good on you, Angelina.  Keep doing you.

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