Watching the new Iron Man 3 trailer the other day, it struck me how empty the whole thing felt. Robert Downey Jr. can’t save Gwyneth Paltrow, but who really gives a shit? It’s just another overdone third entry in a another triad of overblown films, with its over-exposed stars—another superhero film with explosions, and an even more badder bad guy. In this land that is our land we eat what they feed us, and when we love it, they feed us more…and more and more, until we are so completely and utterly sick that we can no longer stand it. We do it with our movie franchises, our television shows, and we do it with our actors. Well, somebody does it—whether it’s the publicity machines, the network or film studios, or the actors themselves, someone keeps shoving the people we like down our throats until they each turn into just another regurgitated, self-important blob. Do we even remember when we loved them?
The Friend: Jennifer Aniston
You were so cute! You were darling and likable, and a little ditzy; we all wanted to be your friend. (Oh the others too, but mostly you.) You had pretty hair we coveted, and wore the clothes we wanted to wear, had excellent boobs (never minded showing your nipples) and we all cheered when you landed Brad Pitt.
But Then: “Friends” was over, you decided you wanted to become an actress we’d take seriously, and you got all snippy about how you hated “The Rachel.” We figured out that you could basically only do some other version of Miss Green, Brad ran away, and you turned into The Woman Who Is Desperate to Land a Man and/or Have a Baby. For the last umpteen years, you’ve done bad comedy after bad comedy (with a few lucky shots in between), man after man, and now we’re all just so relieved that you pinned down that guy with the giant eyebrows…maybe you’ll have real triplets and go away for good.
The Bad Boy: Sean Penn
Taps, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Bad Boys, Racing with the Moon, The Falcon and the Snowman, At Close Range, Colors, Casualties of War…you were a young powerhouse actor who blew (and continues to blow) us away. You were the quintessential bad boy and when you hooked up with Madonna, we all saw why. You are immensely talented, but as creative people sometimes are, also volatile—attacking photographers and finally, Madonna herself. And while it’s perfectly fine to get involved in causes, it’s your self-important and righteous attitude that turns us off. If you decide to go into politics, you’ll be right at home.
The Funny Girl: Cameron Diaz
You were the winning combination of beautiful and funny, launched into our consciousness with The Mask and My Best Friend’s Wedding, and locking yourself into place with There’s Something About Mary. Suddenly, you were everywhere we looked, in every movie and on every magazine and in our faces all the time. It got uncomfortable. And though you’ve been a serviceable actress here and there, the beauty thing went sort of empty—along with your movie choices. Frankly, your friend Drew has your schtick covered, and she’s a better actress.
The Mangenue: Brad Pitt
When first we (most of us) met in Thelma and Louise, you took away our breath with your looks; we stuck around because of your skill: Kalifornia, Legends of the Fall, Se7en, Twelve Monkeys, Fight Club… We watched you work your way through Hollywood’s women—heck, we even enjoyed the way you morphed yourself to match each one:
Confused, Possibly Doped Up Pitt:
She Told Me We Had to Match! Pitt:
Golden Couple/Clean Cut Pitt:
Billy Bob Pitt:
And so you went from being this regular, cute, guy-next-door kind of guy with a natural talent, to someone who seems to need a certain kind of lady on his arm, and yet—also the guy who maybe doesn’t have enough of his own personality to be whomever he really is. Now it’s all Brad and Ange and their parade of It’s a Small World conquerers are in France! Now Italy! Now Zimbabwe! Who cares?!
The Comeback Kid: Robert Downey, Jr.
We loved you since you first stood on the Brat Pack fringe, from Weird Science to The Pick-Up Artist and Less Than Zero. You killed us with Chaplin, made us laugh with Soapdish, and broke our hearts in Chances Are. When the drugs completely took hold, we rooted for you so hard. Despite a few backward stumbles, you were great on “Ally McBeal” …and then…something changed. Whether it was the giant Iron Man success, who can say? Your arrogance got out of control. Any stage appearance or interview reeks of self-aggrandizing, and frankly, no one can be as impressed with you as you are, yourself. Perhaps the Goop, it rubbed off? Maybe head back to your acting roots and show us how you used to shine, because RDJ 2.0 is just a leetle too shiny.
The Goopster: Gwyneth Paltrow
Oh Gwynnie, some of us do remember you before you were overtaken by the Goop! You seemed shy and quiet, and even though you were privileged from the start, we were willing to give you a chance. And you know what, you were charming for a while there…pretty you hanging on to your pretty Brad toy. You did your bit part in Se7en well enough, got yourself a couple of decent parts in Moonlight and Valentino and Hard Eight and then delighted us with Emma and Sliding Doors. Then, you must’ve gotten a little taste of the Goop and liked it, because we could almost see it working its way through your veins—you got a kind of Goopy glow. It was there in Great Expectations, maybe a teeny bit sweated out during A Perfect Murder and then it went full on raging through your bloodstream after Shakespeare in Love. Why, you almost dressed as if you knew you’d win that Oscar, even though we all know it belonged to Cate Blanchett. (I will admit your teary acceptance speech got to me.) Then shit went CRAY. You got this idea that you could have it all, you could do it all and that you would be doing us a favor if you not only actressed, but you’d sing! (Please don’t sing.) Finally, you put the nail in your own coffin when, completely taken over by your monstrous creation—Goop—you began sending out snobby newsletters filled with all the expensive stuff you buy, the fancy foods you eat (or cleanse out—ew) and the luxurious hotels you visit, so the rest of us poor slobs could do as you do. Only we’re not rich and famous, so we can’t. Dickhead.
The Lucky Star: Madonna
You did it old school, fought your way to the top and stayed there—for that you’ll always have our respect. Whatever our feelings now, we still remember that early 80s cheeky girl. You weren’t the world’s best singer, but you put your heart and soul into everything you did to get our attention. Then came the acting…oh, the acting; Desperately Seeking Susan was cute, but that was just you being you. Shanghai Surprise? Who’s That Girl? Dick Tracy? You refuse to understand that film is not your forte, and while we admire your tenacity, at a certain point, it turns to foolishness. Like most of your list companions, it is ego that knocks you down. A certain affectation when you speak, a little pomposity here, and putting on airs over there…honey, you’re from Detroit—not London. Put a sock in your Kabbalah.
The Recluse: Johnny Depp
Cry Baby, “21 Jump Street,” Edward Scissorhands, Benny and Joon, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape; we were head over heels with you Johnny. Ed Wood, Donnie Brasco secured your hold on us; with Chocolat, we melted in your hands. Then you went French, took a wife, started rolling your own cigarettes and put on that Madonna-esque faux European accent thing… You entered into perpetual hookups with Tim Burton and Disney, both of whom have turned you into some sort of caricature Depp who looks like a homeless, middle-aged woman, and speaks with a mucous-filled, muppet voice. We fully expect you to next star as a goth Billie Jean King in Burton’s twisted biopic, The Nightmare Before Wimbledon or perhaps as Cher in Gypsy Tramp: Thief Bride.
The Mask: Jim Carrey
You quickly and easily won us over with your madcap “In Living Color” performances and a heart-warming story of a dream—writing yourself a post-dated ten million dollar check that’s likely been banked ten times over. You were adorably silly in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective; you freaked us out with The Mask. Then you shocked us all by proving your flair for the dramatic: The Truman Show, Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But somewhere along the road, we got sick of all the dumb and dumber, the schtick got old, the face morphed one too many times. You pounded us over the head with your lunacy until we just couldn’t stand the sight of you any longer. But worst of all, you took our beloved Dr. Seuss stories and turned them into abominations that should be banned in all countries. Good day sir! I said good day!
The Ice Queen: Angelina Jolie
Can we remember “Gia”? Girl, Interrupted (Poor Winona does)? Do we recall that young girl, so beautiful and full of promise? You were going to be the next Meryl Streep. We all fell for you, we did. You followed up your “serious” act, with a thrilling Lara Croft. But almost as quickly as you showed up on our movie radar, your delayed teenagerish, acting-out, shenanigans began—a bloody shirt here, a vial around your neck there, stealing a man over here, another over there… After having ridden your daddy’s method and fame, he suddenly became the abhorrent cheater who ruined your mother’s life. For all your adopting and humanitarian work, we are still befuddled by your moral hypocrisy, and (leg!) a desperate need to be publicly adored. We’re ever so sorry to say Maleficent seems your perfectly identifiable role.
Cindy Davis admits she can be fickle.