Hi I'm Bertie, this column is basically a place for me to call bullshit on girl-related things I think are stupid.
Twenty-four hours on, Angelina Jolie's decision to undergo a double mastectomy is still everywhere. Not only was it the first thing I got asked about when I got into work yesterday, but since then it has dominated my Twitter and Facebook feeds and generally just followed me around the internet like that pop-up guy who keeps wanting to share his cam-girl secrets with me. I wouldn't normally let Ang get away with overwhelming my life with her ridiculously perfect face, but it's pretty obvious that she has done an incredibly brave thing. Deciding to share her experience with every single person over breakfast via the New York Times is not something we should underestimate, either. Can you imagine waking up and millions of people are talking about your breasts? That's not something little girls dream about. Or actually, God, maybe it is and I'm just an incorrigible optimist.
It's difficult to empathize with somebody you've never met, but the internet seems to be doing a good job of showing support to a woman who, faced with an 87 percent risk of cancer, bravely decided to follow those numbers and have both of her breasts removed and replaced with implants. Sure, you might have had to sit through The Tourist and maybe you still harbor a fierce grudge about that, but it seems like you'd have to be either stupid or insensitive to belittle Jolie's predicament, especially as it's implied in the NYT piece that she'll be forced to tackle ovarian cancer at some point, too.
Unfortunately, there are lots of stupid and insensitive people on the internet and they're all tweeting the same gag about feeling sorry for Jolie's fiancé, Brad Pitt. (Because ew, can you imagine being married to a woman with no breasts? Poor guy.) Hey, I'm not saying everyone should be completely torn to shreds by this and start weeping into their laptop keyboards, but is a woman—any woman—getting a double mastectomy really something you want to use as fodder for jokes about tits? I'm not going to pretend I'm outraged, I've seen DaddysMoney.com and I'm fully aware that the internet's capacity for idiocy far exceeds whatever energy I can muster to damn it. It just strikes me as being really, really lame:
Oh wow, congratulations on being the worst people on Twitter guys. Way to turn a story around. While it's no surprise Twitter is throwing up some bullshit, I'm actually more interested in trying to work out how and why anybody could have that immediate reaction. (That's called empathizing, BTW.)
Here are some theories.
THEORY #1 – THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT A MASTECTOMY IS
This one doesn't actually seem that farfetched, because judging by Zumani Nutli's tweet, some people seem to be of the opinion that Angelina basically did a DIY jobbie of unzipping and "removing" her breasts from the safety of her own walk-in wardrobe. (I don't know if you read the NYT piece, Zamani, but it took three months and it's not cosmetic.) Oh Ang, how could you take your health into your own hands and make a huge life-changing decision for the benefit of your entire family like that? Brad will cheat for sure.
THEORY #2 – THEY'VE NEVER SEEN A WOMAN'S BODY IN REAL LIFE
If breasts are really the only thing keeping a marriage together, then Emma Watson, Cara Delevingne, and Kaya Scodelario might as well start preparing for lives of lonely spinsterdom. I'm not being a bitch, I'm just saying, the idea that a man would leave his beautiful fiancée because of an uncontrollable obsession with boobs? Ridiculous. Doubly ridiculous is the idea that Brad Pitt would ditch Jolie because she underwent a surgical procedure to stop her getting cancer. These are the type of guys who like to think they're Hunter Moore even though they've never had a real relationship, the kind of guys who prefer enhanced breasts to real ones, anyway. If they'd read the article properly (she's had implants) they probably would've been tweeting about how lucky Brad was that his girl had had a boob job.
THEORY #3 – THEY'RE TEAM JEN (DUH, THIS IS OBVIOUSLY IT)
There is one obvious reason why a whole bunch of people would feel compelled to be rude about Angelina Jolie, and you don't have to look hard to find it. If there was going to be any one factor that could unite the concern of @alberthoward360, @morrismonye, and @AllTheOtherCunts, who's to say it isn't a deep love, reverence, and respect for Rachel from Friends? There are times, though, when even the most devout worshipper of the layered hair and sassy, snappy retorts of the queen of the late 90s needs to step back and say, "Look, Jen is a strong woman and she took a serious blow when Brad and Angelina announced their relationship. But I need to put my personal feelings about this woman to one side and appreciate the difficulty of what she's going through."
BB, Jen will understand. I promise.
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes