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Should Angelina Jolie Just Apologize?
08.04.17

Vanity Fair’s September cover story featuring Angelina Jolie has been the subject of controversy since the end of July. Jolie released a formal statement following the backlash; her lawyers asked for a specific paragraph to be deleted; Vanity Fair responded that they stand by their decision to print it — all of which is available online for public consumption (we’ll get to that in a minute). The entire exchange made think about how social media has affected our expectations of authenticity and transparency, which made me wonder, “Forget the formal statement. Should Angelina Jolie just apologize?”

The rundown of events are as follows.

Vanity Fair’s September cover story is a profile on Angelina Jolie. In one controversial paragraph, Jolie discusses her casting directors’ technique for choosing the lead of her most recent film, First They Killed My Father. Vanity Fair published the following:

“The casting directors set up a game, rather disturbing in its realism: they put money on the table and asked the child to think of something she needed the money for, and then to snatch it away. The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie. ‘Srey Moch [the girl ultimately chosen for the part] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,’ Jolie says. ‘When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back.’ Jolie then tears up. ‘When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.’”

Then came the backlash. The exercise that Angelina Jolie’s quotes describe has been criticized as “cruel and exploitative.”  One tweet that labeled it “emotional abuse” has over 2,000 retweets.

Jolie released a statement in response:

“Every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present. Parents, guardians, partner NGOs whose job it is to care for children, and medical doctors were always on hand everyday, to ensure everyone had all they needed. And above all to make sure that no one was in any way hurt by participating in the recreation of such a painful part of their country’s history. I am upset that a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario. The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened. The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.”

On August 3rd, Vanity Fair responded:

“On August 1, Jolie’s lawyer contacted V.F., saying Peretz had ‘mistakenly’ reported the incident, and asked us to run a statement, excerpts of which follow: ‘The casting crew showed the children the camera and sound recording material, explaining to them that they were going to be asked to act out a part. . . . The children were not tricked as some have suggested. . . . All of the children auditioning were made aware of the fictional aspect of the exercise and were tended to at all times by relatives or guardians from NGOs. . . . We apologize for any misunderstanding.’

Jolie’s lawyer also asked us to remove the original paragraph from the online version of Peretz’s story and to publish the above statement prominently, with the title ‘Angelina Jolie Correction’ in the October edition of V.F. and also on VF.com.”

In their response, Vanity Fair writes that they reviewed the transcript and audiotape of Peretz’s interview with Jolie. They produced “a relevant section” of the transcript below this information. Below the transcript, a conclusion from Vanity Fair: “After reviewing the audiotape, V.F. stands by Peretz’s story as published.”

The entire exchange has made me think about how we metabolize scandal, as a culture, in the internet age. We have become accustomed to “communicating” with celebrities in a far more personal manner by way of social media. In times of controversy, celebrities make statements, clarifications and apologies on their personal Twitter and Instagram accounts. No matter how filtered, the effect is that of a direct line. Does a formal release, like the one Angelina Jolie’s lawyer issued, hold up with fans and critics?

The era of “statements” issued through publishers feels over. Truthful record-setting is expected to come straight from the source. The internet is armed and ready with receipts. (Remember last year’s Taylor Swift/Kanye West “Famous” controversy?) And whether it’s studied proactive measure or because they’re part of the online world too, mouth-to-ear celebrity apologies are becoming more common.

In May 2017, Kathy Griffin apologized on twitter for sharing a video in which she held up a beheaded, blood-soaked image of President Trump. “I made a mistake and I was wrong,” she wrote. In December 2016, Lena Dunham apologized on Instagram for a comment she made on her podcast about abortion, calling it “distasteful.” In August 2016, Demi Lovato expressed her “deepest apologies” for joking about the Zika virus.

Given how accustomed we are to transparency in this day and age, Jolie’s formally-issued response sounds hollow and…shady? It’s a shame. She has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 2001. Her extensive volunteer work has labeled her a humanitarian. Yet this recent scandal poses to chip away at the paint of her perfection. That being said, there’s nothing like a genuine apology to provide a fresh coat. Here’s the question: do you think she should give one, or was the statement she issued enough?

Photo by Dave J Hogan/WireImage via Getty Images. 

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  • Hil

    hmm… I guess I don’t see the need for an apology. Like she said in her statement, it was an audition and they were acting out a scene in the movie. Is it a problem because they were improvising?

    • Payal Mitra

      It’s a problem because a child growing up in a safe and secure environment was not being asked to emote – a child actively suffering poverty and ‘lack’ was emotionally triggered by having something taken away (even in a pretend situation, bear in mind this is a child) and then was prompted to emote from a likely real situation of suffering that they have or are experiencing.

      It’s cruel. It’s emotional abuse.

      • Roos .

        While I really would not downplay the cruelty and lack of moral capital of that situation, I would not label it emotional abuse. It somehow flattens a wide range of cruel and abusive behaviours, that range from the mild and distasteful, to the downright violent and abhorrent. Repetitive, daily, grinding acts like these I’d have no problem being labeled as emotional abuse, but this one instance (though obviously I cannot be sure what other events occured, or if it’s a regular dynamic in this child’s life) … hmmm. It is also up to her to write it into her own story, we cannot decide whether it is abuse or not.

        Well, there I go contradicting myself again.

        • Payal Mitra

          I hear you and agreed that the technical term for abuse includes ‘ongoing maltreatment’ – but if a child is clearly already living in poverty and likely being exposed to all other forms of maltreatment that comes with it – the moral obligation of any human would be to not add to it?

          If you add one incident of emotional maltreatment to a child that you know is already in receipt of continuous and ongoing suffering – are you exempt from being an ‘abuser’ because technically YOU didn’t contribute to all the historic abuse and possibly future ones?

          Other people kick you a lot. I only kicked you once, knowing that other people already kick you. Hence I physically assaulted you and am not guilty of physical abuse? Because I only did it once. My knowledge of your past misery means nothing.

          More than anything, I’m shocked that she romanticises the telling of it – oh my film is so good, we use authentically poor children to get ‘authentic’ reactions for your viewing pleasure in the film.

          I feel nauseous just thinking about it. I don’t really care whether she apologises or not, but she’s exposed herself in a manner where her UN status should be taken away. She is not a humanitarian. Throwing money at charities does not excuse a lack of basic empathy and humanity. Caring about all humans equally is being humanitarian.

          I don’t think the majority of the anger is about her. For me particularly I don’t care if it was her or some no-name person that doesn’t even give a penny to charity. You can’t do this.

          • Payal Mitra

            I also think this conversation is so important and I laud manrepeller for bringing it up (I see through the comments, a lot of people are finding it a waste of time and energy), because only through trading views back and forth, are we going to be able to create development of collective thought and culture.

            For anybody that reads this and continues to think the outrage is undeserved and about anything but preventing cruelty to children – I beg you to spend considerable time with children living in poverty and then go back and read the transcript of that interview.

          • Danielle Cardona Graff

            I think that if the outrage is with the technique used to audition the kids, and that technique is considered acceptable within the acting industry-as some of the other crazy shit actors (even children) do to prepare for roles, an apology from Jolie doesn’t fix anything-do we want the apology, or do we want some actual reforms made to the practices within the acting industry to prep for roles (especially where minors are concerned)?

    • ValiantlyVarnished

      Exactly. The faux concern it actually pretty infuriating to me. Because most of it comes from a lack of understanding but also from a place of wanting to seem concerned and outraged (but not actually knowing anything about the context of what kids in Cambodia live through)

  • Adrianna

    I can’t bring myself to care about this. She didn’t smack a child or bring up the deceased grandfather herself. And can we delete our twitter apps?

    • Thamsa

      Ugh, so true

    • Ariana-Kaelita

      No, she just stalked orphans, flaunted money or food in their faces, took it away from them and demanded why they needed it.
      She emotionally abused and exploited those orphans. She is a piece of shit for doing that to poor impoverished children!

      • Isabel Reinhards

        Don’t exaggerate!

      • Adrianna

        Ok, so what are you doing about it? What does tweeting and posting online comments exactly do?

        • Ariana-Kaelita

          Go fuck yourself hon.

          • Hannah Laub

            I don’t think you understand the rules of this comments section. Please take your hostility elsewhere.

  • annie holland

    I believe she should know better than to impose such a game on children that have survived said atrocities. Easily interpreted as “othering” or just ignorance towards the emotions of other human beings. Apologize when you’re wrong. Simple as that.

  • Jessica Eikenberry Paullus

    She should apologize. Children that age can’t often distinguish between fantasy and reality. I don’t care if it was explained to them beforehand. The child sounds like she was traumatized by the experience from reading the article.

    • Lil

      This is always the argument against having child actors in film. But this isn’t the worst thing that child actors have done. Plenty of other films have children screaming curse words or worse.

      • Jessica Eikenberry Paullus

        I am not arguing against child actors nor am I opposed to the use of child actors if handled appropriately. I am against the methods used/described in the Vanity Fair article to audition children who are coming from a disadvantaged environment and not the privileged environment many children here in this country grow up in.

        • Basil

          I agree. When I read the article this whole thing seemed cruel. We’re not talking about child actors who are growing up in a safe and secure environment, but children who have experienced real trauma, and they’re using that (and not in a way an adult would be able to process it) to get a certain emotional response on film. It just doesn’t sound right

    • Eliza

      A nine year old can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality?

      • Jessica Eikenberry Paullus

        A lot of children still can’t completely tell the difference at that age and some still can’t up until age 11-12 according to studies including this one http://www.utexas.edu/news/2006/11/27/psychology/.

        • Eliza

          The very first sentence of that study is, “Children are able to distinguish between reality and fantasy between the ages of 3 and 5, according to new research at The University of Texas at Austin.” I’m guessing you linked the wrong one lol.

          Honestly, I’m sure there are situations in which kids find it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality, but I really doubt a movie audition is one of them. Give the kid some credit.

          • Jessica Eikenberry Paullus

            My bad, that was not the link I meant to put here. This kid was not used to being in this environment and is from a disadvantaged environment very different from what people here in the US experience. I am not criticizing the child or this individual child’s abilities. The way this audition was described makes it seem that it was manipulative.

  • Apologize…why? Much ado about not much. Slow blog news day?

  • Delphine Gintz

    Apologizing wouldn’t make any difference, she’s doing her thing and people on Twitter are way too sensitive, at least she’s doing something worthy in this world, not hiding behind her screen complaining

  • Brittany Clifford

    I am still waiting for an apology for the whole Jen/Brad situation.

    • Willy Billy

      An apology from Brad, right?

    • Lee Wells

      Never ever thought much of her. She seems fake and dark. Something deeply amiss. As far as Brad and Jen I think she jumped on him to show the world she could land Hollywood’s hottest guy and show Jen who was queen. Backfired. Brad didn’t deserve Jen. Too sad for the children. Enough said.

  • Child acting is a double edged sword in and of itself. I don’t think Jolie should apologize. The children are (or in the process of becoming) professional actors. Acting traverses a space in between reality and fiction; fiction, no matter what it entails, must be perceived as reality for any actor who wants to be successful. That’s the world these kids are getting into. Also, the girl came up with the memory. Her family could have kept that information from her but they didn’t. She knew she needed something more emotive than not being able to buy a toy.

    • Edit: the only people Jolie should talk to about what happened, with the possible inclusion of an apology, are the kids that auditioned.

    • pdbraide

      these are kids from slums. they aren’t the usual aspiring child actors who have the support network and acting prospects even in thier own countries.

      • Not all of the children were from slum schools, there was a mix of children from different backgrounds. The production provided a network of support for the children from the very beginning.

  • Lil

    Angelina Jolie doesn’t really engage in social media and has been increasingly more private throughout the years so a published, official statement isn’t all that surprising coming from her.

    Also the audition was to act out a scene from the movie being auditioned for. Plenty of horror movies have worse auditions I bet.

  • Jeanie

    Wasn’t there situations in the past where they told child actors their dog died? This isn’t even close to that. I’m struggling to find anything wrong here.

  • Just read text ‘Should Angelina Jolie Just Apologize?’ after I read one from Vanity Fair. I really can’t understand why this text is approved to be published on MR. After Madame Peretz tried to copy the mood from Pitt’s GQ interview, tried to be Monsieur from GQ, very fast we saw the sensationalist lady behind this ‘try’. And Hurling, not just hooked, acting provoked. Monika

  • Lex

    She is probably one of the most beautiful women alive and I’m not taking about her external beauty it’s really disgusting people are trying to make this an issue considering every thing she has done as a UN ambassador try are trying to spin a story so they can sell magazines and create controversy sick!, she is an actual good person some people just have a problem with that

    • pamb

      She is not a saint, and being a goodwill ambassador doesn’t mean she has never/will never do anything wrong. It sounds like she wasn’t there for the auditions. She should apologize that the acting agents went too far.

  • Susan05401

    Angelina Jolie doesn’t apologize for any of the cruel and hateful things she has done to so many good people. She makes excuses, denies, or lies. Sometimes all three at once. Adding orphans to her list of victims seems right in character. Suing a magazine for portraying her in a unflattering light also seems about right. This is a woman who ripped her children away from their father and tried to murder his spirit with disgusting and false allegations. She ostracized her own father for begging her to get mental help. I believe her behavior indicates this woman is a menace to herself and others.

  • pamb

    Her statement was not an apology. She should apologize for the actions taken on her behalf by the casting agent.

  • DA

    Acting is basically believable make believe. And it’s obvious that child actors aren’t sitting and studying expressions to copy, their emotions and expressions are their own. If this audition is an issue then child actors shouldn’t be allowed to act in any films involving traumatic subjects.

  • Lady Grinning Soul

    Harling, do you really think any of those apologies really come from the source? They are worded and staged to seem like they do. But that is all.

  • Eliza

    Does the public really need an apology from Angelina Jolie?

    It makes me uncomfortable that so many people expect (or feel a genuine need for) an apology. There’s nothing hurtful or offensive about her interview. Her wording may have made the situation seem more harsh than it really was, but people really need to step back and put things in perspective here. What they had the kids do is one of the oldest acting tricks/exercises in the book. They were seeing if the kids could show genuine emotion just by imagining themselves in a situation. Jolie’s wording just dramatized it, and it came across as a bit shocking. She then issued a statement for clarification.

    If there’s a need for an apology, or any unresolved issue, it would be between the casting directors, the children, and their parents. What kind of unrequited emotional involvement do people have with Jolie that they feel the need for a personal apology?

    • Dorothy Rotatori

      agree. and i wish there was more discussion and outrage about orphans. and war. and poverty. and greed.

    • Ciccollina

      Agreed. Anyway, if damage was done, shouldn’t the apology be to the child? How has the public been harmed in all this? Oh that’s right, the gloss of celebrity has been marred and we’re all realising that movie stars are just ordinary people living in a fucked up world.

    • Lustforlife92

      Good point. I didn’t think about this. If she did apologize it should be to the children and their families not the general public.

  • Joy Gertner

    When we read these articles—-America quit reacting in horror as(logistics here folks)THERE IS ALWAYS TO STORY THAN THE EXCERPT YOU READ IN VF. PLEASE CALM DOWN AMERICA. Angelina J is a grown up and highly doubt you all could/would understand as YOU WERE NOT THERE. SO LAY OFF AND GET A LIFE.

  • Joy Gertner

    Meaning more to story than what is written….

  • Kari Lynn

    You should not tease or taunt poor children like this. They know one dollar is beyond vital in their world. This was evil behavior in action regardless of who did it.

  • Sam Gallo

    I think she’s obsessed with creating scenarios to get attention. Angelina is extremely manipulative and an apology would mean nothing. She’s beautiful and intelligent yet can’t make anything successful.

  • Nancy

    I think she’s trying to cover her ass..kids in a 3rd world country doesn’t understand the ” role play” nor do they have money so this would be cruel to do to them, give them money and snatch it away, why else would they cry if they knew it was a game, why say they needed to bury the grandfather which is also fake I think, they don’t have traditional burials with gravesite and headstones…its a very poor country

    • Payal Mitra

      Poor countries also have funerals. The poor in all countries also like to say goodbye to their family members with a level of ceremony to honour them.

    • ihavenobones

      1. “Third world country” isn’t the proper nomenclature and betrays your colonial mindset displayed by:
      a) “kids in a 3rd world country doesn’t understand…” Why? It’s made clear that they and their guardians were told this was an audition for a film and a game of pretend. What human wouldn’t understand that? Do you think poorer children are stupid?
      b) “give them money and snatch it away” You read the AWFULLY PHRASED paragraph incorrectly. The children are the ones who are told to snatch the money away, i.e. steal the money, and then the casting director would pretend to “catch” them.
      c) “why else would they cry if they knew it was a game” Because they’re acting, which is why they are auditioning for the role in the first place — they want to be actors.
      d) “they don’t have traditional burials” Whose tradition? Are you saying that everyone is tossed into the river? A mass grave? Do you find cremations non-traditional, because it certainly is the tradition in Hinduism. Look at your creeping Western bias; gross!
      e) “[it’s] a very poor country” Therefore what? Therefore children are not still children, with all the same abilities to play pretend, understand circumstances, experience trauma, process said trauma, and all of the other things resilient children can do in the United States?

  • Phyllis

    She needs to apologize for being a liar. If she would lie about her emotional abuse of children while being taped, imagine the other things she would lie about…
    It is interesting that in the interview she is using to present herself as this devoted mom (by utilizing the presence of her children) she also admits to what she does for gain to the less fortunate.

  • dinoceros

    When I read it, I saw that it was an acting exercise. My assumption is that the part where they explained that the kids knew they were auditioning was edited or skipped due to the fact that it’s pretty obvious that’s what was going on. I’m sure some kids’ reason was they wanted the money for ice cream, but you can’t really predict which kids are more mature for their age or have more going on in their lives. Kids also are very emotional, and I guess I am not the kind of person who equates a child crying with them being abused. Fantasy seems much more real to kids, and they get lost in their thoughts. I think this culture of going after a new celebrity every day with torches and pitchforks is getting old.

    • TishRap

      To cast for this role, they didn’t audition child actors, but went to orphanages in Cambodia, and put orphan kids through an exercise such as this. The already traumatised kids were put though an exercise that re-traumatised them to elicit a response, so, they could evaluate if the orphan child would be able to play the role of the protagonist Loung Ung, as a child. Re-traumatising a child for your benefit is a form of abuse. It is unfair to the child who didn’t ask to be there, or be a part of the movie to be subjected to that.
      Please tell me you see (at least a little) why we think this is not okay.

  • C martin

    Slayer

  • Payal Mitra

    YES! And demonstrate some learning via it.

    Nobody that lives above the poverty line or has never experienced poverty – specially in a country where dying from hunger is an everyday reality – should dare defend this.

    The cruelty to be fetishising the misery of a child in poverty – she should be stripped of whatever title the UN has given her.

  • Pink Elephant

    Should you maybe just stop picking up on her? This whole story is just ridiculously petty when compared to all the real actual good she did to the world, donating, volunteering and raising awareness. I wonder if people who posted condemning and outright hateful comments here ever did anything of the sort.

  • Jessica

    Emotional manipulation like this is commonplace in the acting world. Children and adult actors. Many directors later get praised for it.

  • Karen Cooper

    I think she made it clear it was part of an audtion. No need to apologize.

  • Kristin

    Mhhh maybe a sorry you feel that way?

  • Here’s the deal: People should never be forced or shamed into issuing apologies. Apologies are only apologies if sincere; “apologies” that result from shaming & public outrage are only pointless lip service that ultimately mean nothing and only satisfy the need for a superficial win for those doing the shaming.

    That being said, public backlash toward Angelina & the Casting Director is understandable. These children were not professional actors; they didn’t know the “game” was actually game. Why would they? Poverty is not a game. Hunger, is not a game. Seeing money put in front of you and thinking you now have a chance to buy food for the evening….only to have it snatched away…is not a game. These were desperately poor children who, unbeknownst to them, were intentionally put in a situation that was sure to cause some kind of emotional and psychological distress. All in the name of finding the right “slum” kid to add a more “authentic” feel to the role.

    This is not cool. It doesn’t matter how you slice, dice or rationalize it. It is simply not cool.

    Many of those who’ve read the article, those who’ve read this Man Repeller piece, and those who are reading this very comment right now, may never know or understand what it truly means to live in extreme poverty. This is particularly magnified for “slum” children to whom a roof over their heads and a meal per day is a rarety. Knowing this…and having this level of contextual understanding, WHY would Angelina and casting directors put children in this “game” situation?? This is almost equivalent to putting a huge plate of food in front of a starving child, then snatching it away…just to see how they react. How shamefully sadistic!

    Angelina presents herself as a humanitarian. What kind of humanitarian allows this kind of “game” to be played out on unsuspecting children….children who are merely fighting to survive their plight of being born into poverty?

    So, should she apologize? Only if she is truly sorry. The fact that she’s had her lawyers try to coerce a Vanity Fair edit, shows that she is not.

    • Ciccollina

      Bravo. Would love to know your story actually, seems like you have experience in this area. Well written, thank you.

    • LadyT

      As it stands I personally wouldn’t value her apology. She herself told the stories in the original VF interview (villagers falling to their knees and wailing in horror at sight of the Army…and more) without recognizing it read as horrible, not authentic! I would think a humanitarian would see what is callous and selfish. In the Huffpo clarification she wasn’t self-reflective at all- just said it wasn’t real money like that fixed everything. In the third news item it still wasn’t about understanding or her responsibilities. She clearly wanted VF to take the fall. So no. Don’t apologize. It’d be a waste of breath at this point. We’ve seen the truth already.

  • pdbraide

    that she can’t see whats wrong is more interesting to me. she just cannot see. triggering kids who actually live the life. they will probably leave the audition to experience hunger and homelessness with flashbacks to a “game” is secondary to a worthy cause via a great movie. It was a hunger game… the winner would win the role and a shot at a career…. it could of course have been less cruel while still testing for acting skill. Her apology will not be heartfelt because she doesn’t only believe she did anything wrong but because she believes she is doing something that is worthy.

  • MelanieYvette

    I don’t think this is that deep, tbh. But, maybe I’m cold? I just think it was blown out of proportion.

  • So I just read Vanity Fair’s response and I think that their reporting was fair and accurate, and I think this was an abusive thing for the production crew to have done to these kids. In the transcript Angelina says that they told the kids it was a game, but it seems that some of them weren’t really cognisant of exactly what was happening and, crucially, the production crew seemed to be hoping that the children would draw from their own *real* trauma to bring emotion to the part.

    To offer a child living in poverty money as part of ‘a game’ and then to take it away is, in my opinion, deeply cruel, even if the child is 100% aware they they are playing a game. But it seems some of these kids, being kids, were not 100% aware what was going on anyway. It’s a horrible story and I hope other production companies and filmmakers learn from this and rethink their cavalier attitudes to casting vulnerable people.

  • Erin

    The fact that we are even discussing whether Angelina should apologize is ridiculous. First of all, it is not emotional manipulation if the children and their families had a choice as to whether to participate. No one was forcing them to audition. Do we really need to protect them from their ability to make their own choices? Given that they were auditioning for a movie they knew would be about Cambodia’s brutal past, would the assumption really be that there would be no need to relive that past and all the emotion that goes along with it?

    Situations are always more complex than one magazine article, one quote, one statement can attest, and the need to reduce it to a black and white, should she/shouldn’t she is a mistake. Most, if not all of the time we are operating off of limited/false information and rampant speculation informed by our own emotional response to the headline, rather than the actual facts of what took place. If someone is really that outraged they should place it in the larger context — does it seem likely that a woman who has spent much of her adult life advocating for children and refugees would intentionally do something to harm a child? No. And even if she did, is our narcissism truly so overblown as to think she should apologize to US? To us? Seriously? The small percentage of the world’s population who can even afford to spend money on magazines like Vanity Fair where our own voyeuristic hypocrisy compels us to read about the lives of celebrities so we can then criticize them?

    No Angelina should not apologize. No we should not expect one. And no, we should not even be wasting our time debating this. Instead, why don’t we collectively get off Twitter and focus on educating ourselves in a way that will actually make a difference in the world, as opposed to our faux outrage at this non-issue.

    • TishRap

      OK, I am copy pasting this from a response I posted above to somebody else’s comments. Doesn’t look like you know the whole story. So, here we go…
      To cast for this role, they didn’t audition child actors, but went to orphanages in Cambodia, and put orphan kids through an exercise such as this. The already traumatised kids were put though an exercise that re-traumatised them to elicit a response, so, they could evaluate if the orphan child would be able to play the role of the protagonist Loung Ung, as a child. Re-traumatising a child for your benefit is a form of abuse. It is unfair to the child who didn’t ask to be there, or be a part of the movie to be subjected to that. Please tell me you see why we think this is not okay.

      • Erin

        I don’t think what you are presenting here is in any way “the whole story.” The statements from multiple parties involved in the movie say that parents, other family members, guardians (when the children were orphans), and reps from NGOs were on hand. Your response here demonstrates my point – we base opinions off of limited information and then believe our emotional, knee-jerk feeling should require a response. The reality is that none of us have enough information to know whether what actually happened was “okay” or not. This makes the conversation not one about facts but emotions about a perceived situation; which, to me, makes the conversation little more than a distraction from more productive endeavors that could be taken if people were really as upset about the children of Cambodia as the outrage over the interview would suggest.

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    There is nothing shady about what she said. I was an actress for ten years. Children being told to act out a scenario in a CASTING ROOM with FAKE MONEY is NOT abusive. It’s called an audition. It’s no different than what other child actors are asked to do in casting rooms all the time. The children were not abused! And to say they were shows a complete lack of understanding of not only what auditions look like but what abuse actually looks. I actually find it slightly elitist how everyone is wagging their finger at Jolie for having child actors ACT out a scenario in a controlled environment but don’t seem to give two shits about what actually occurs in Cambodia to children and the history of what has happened there.

  • ihavenobones

    Look at all of these people underestimating the resilience of children, trying to lift them up but simultaneously showing off a privileged colonial concept of “poverty” and “trauma”. Go be white saviors somewhere that does actual good instead of railing on Angelina Jolie and this shitty, really really really poorly-written article (objectively — it reads with the worst syntax and comprehensive grammar as though it were written lazily on the toilet after Peretz took 4 Xanax). Whoever copyedited VF that day should be canned.

  • Danielle Cardona Graff

    I think that the approach really depends on what camp said celeb is from. Angelina Jolie is no Kardashian. I therefore can’t imagine her sending out a tweet that isn’t filtered, or actually composed by someone else…it’s kind of hard to imagine her sending out tweets at all. She strikes me as being of the more old school set.

  • Hannah Laub

    Usually the comments section on MR is so positive and collaborative. But this time it just feels like a slightly more elevated, intellectual Buzzfeed comments section. I’m curious why there is such a change in tone and a lack of productivity here. Is it that the subject of celebrity brings out the worst in people? That we all feel some personal ownership over public figures? Or that we all feel a personal rage when we read about something we identify as abuse? Personally, I’m uninterested in all of our opinions about this “acting exercise” unless one of us is a psychiatrist. The echo chamber of speculation and outrage doesn’t seem particularly productive to me. Why do we clamor for celebrity apologies? There are so many things we can focus our attentions on that are enlightening, productive, or creative. And yet, with everything going on in the world, nothing gets quite the same level of mass anger as a celebrity wronging us. Let’s all remember something–celebrities AREN’T like us. And if we don’t like how they behave, it makes no sense to give them more attention by spending our time, outraged, in the comments section. The most powerful thing we can do is just ignore them.

  • Cristina

    I mean, honestly, even when I see a celebrity tweet or post a personal apology, I just roll my eyes because
    1. A lot of them pay people to run their social media accounts, even if they post in first person.
    2. Someone told them to do it. Maybe they didn’t actually want to apologize.
    It’s all a sham.

  • Cheshire Cat

    This is why I hate Angelina Jolie. She’s such a hypocrite. I already knew it when she started adopting children from some African or Asian countries, like adopting pets or something. If calling these orphans pets is inappropriate, I’d say she was adopting these kids as if she was gathering accessories to wear to show off her ego.