I’ve been in a temper since Sunday, due to having had the misfortune of reading Susie O’Brien’s ludicrous column about Nicole Kidman in the Herald Sun. As such, I apologise in advance to anyone reading this piece for the fact that it is not even an attempt at humour – rather, I have written it because if I did not express myself on this topic, I may well have had a stroke due to disgust and I simply do not have it within me to triumph over that level of adversity.
O’Brien begins by taking exception to Kidman’s admission that she has tried Botox, because, O’Brien feels, it is obvious that Kidman has had Botox and she should have been being honest about it all along. This is because, declares the columnist, if she and other female celebrities are not honest about such procedures, men will then look at O’Brien and her ilk and wonder why they are with a ‘hag with crow’s feet and wrinkles’. I reject this argument on the grounds that, first, I myself do not know of even one man who would be unable to recognise the results of cosmetic surgery and, yes, difficult though it may be to believe, I am actually acquainted with some heterosexuals. Second, if such a man does exist, the problem, surely, lies with him, not with Nicole Kidman. However, that is quite enough about the cosmetic-surgery question, as I have at this point in my life had it up the wazoo with any discussion related to how women feel about physical ageing, or about ‘body image’ issues, given I firmly believe that if femalekind can merely stop panicking about the fact that models walk among us and think about something that is a) useful and b) interesting, this ‘problem’ will immediately cease to exist – and, yes, it is that simple.
Thus, we come now to the irksomeness of O’Brien claiming that Kidman has an ‘icy personality’, in contrast with, who else but, Mr Hugh Jackman, someone who is, we are told, ‘down-to-earth’. First, there is the obvious point that O’Brien in actuality knows both these megastars about as well as she knows Anne Boleyn. She even says herself that ‘I still feel I don’t really know [Kidman] all that well’; this is, it would seem, because she doesn’t talk enough about her personal life for O’Brien’s liking and, specifically, does not talk about what transpired between herself and Tom Cruise. Now, I too palpitate to know what really precipitated that particular marital breakdown but I don’t, on the other hand, labour under the delusion that Kidman is under some kind of obligation to tell me, and this is aside from the fact that it should be apparent, even to the meanest intelligence, that it may be the case that she does not talk about her marriage to Cruise because she is under a legal obligation not to do so. As well, the accusation that Kidman does not talk about her personal life is incorrect anyway, given that she talks about it too much, if anything – I myself would give a great deal never to see another article about how motherhood is ‘her greatest role’, even though it demonstrably isn’t, given her curriculum vitae (of which more below). Second, there is the issue that even if Kidman truly does have the black heart of a serial killer and Jackman is Jesus Christ returned to Earth, who the hell cares, given that it’s not as if any of us has to live with these people? The simple truth is that human beings are not generally driven to enter the world of entertainment because they have a ‘nice’ personality – it is far more likely to be due to a combination of insecurity and egomania, and the general public would do well to accept this and simply be thankful for the alchemy to which this combination can lead. But, no, for the average lady columnist in the tabloid press, there is really only one type of woman who is worthy of trust and admiration: she must, of course, be not simply a mother, she must be ‘a mum’, although she can get away with not being a mum if she is ‘suffering the heartbreak of infertility’ and lost in envy of those who have reached the nirvana of mumhood, and wants to look at photographs of ‘bubs’ and smell their heads; she must love shoes, and the television production of Pride and Prejudice that starred Colin Firth; she must find it impossible to resist chocolate, and enjoy drinking wine with ‘the girls’ while having a good old giggle about how men would never be able to cope with the pains of labour. While Kidman does, I would think, enjoy shoes, there is less certainty that she would rejoice in any of these other pursuits, which is why, it appears, it is best that we immediately get hold of a stake, tie her to it and set light to her, as penalty for not being nearly bland enough. After all, O’Brien observes darkly that ‘Women, in particular, seem to have never warmed to Kidman’, and, I am sure, she would have been in a position to discuss this matter with every woman in the world, as opposed to merely having polled herself and, perhaps, a few of her dopey mates.
By far the most contemptible part of an immensely contemptible article, however, is O’Brien taking Kidman to task for her choice of film roles: that ‘most of her performances have been in high-brow artsy roles which are not the kind of movies we want to see’. Well, whomever ‘we’ may be, it is truly distressing that O’Brien’s objection to Kidman’s body of work lies in her interest in making motion pictures that people who can actually write their own names night be interested in watching. The blithe statement that she ‘hasn’t done anything really great’ since To Die For is, of course, particularly moronic – especially given that O’Brien then namechecks Rabbit Hole, Birthday Girl, Birth, Dogville, The Human Stain and The Others, all of which, while they are – as is the nature of work more ambitious than that of writing newspaper columns aimed at the lowest common denominator – of, and have had, varying levels of success, do, at the very least, demonstrate Kidman’s admirable pattern of stretching herself like a Soviet Union gymnast artistically, when she doesn’t even need to, having well and truly proved herself. Were I she, I would most certainly have settled into Richard Burton’s, frankly deeply inspiring, paradigm of spending all my time eating at fancy restaurants, thinking about how much money I have and doing as little work as I could get away with. Yes, I admit that there are few of us who are not guilty of spouting off about that which we know nothing – I can just hear myself screaming at someone, anyone, that ‘Well, Hugh fucking Jackman has never done anything great, ever!’ but it is also the case that – aside from Erskineville Kings, in which I recall him giving a convincing performance – I have never actually seen any of his films except for Australia, the sheer mindblowing shiteness of which no one, not even Kidman or Saint Jackman, had a hope of overcoming.
Essentially, it is one thing for Susie O’Brien to – while sounding like a five-year-old, by the way – criticise Nicole Kidman for her ‘zillion-dollar ball gowns’ but quite another for her to attack the actress because she wonders why Kidman ‘is trying so damn hard to impress us’, as shown by her suspicous willingness to appear in ‘arty’ fare, as opposed to the 105th work concerning the doings of the X-Men. Aside from the fact that Kidman’s work ethic is admirable, I would be willing to bet the star’s considerable fortune that she isn’t trying to impress O’Brien, primarily because she is, I would imagine, fortunate enough not to know who she is. At the end of the day, it is not Nicole Kidman’s fault that so many people are idiots, and it is awful that she should have to pay the price for it in the form of these kinds of cretinous opinion pieces, particularly given that this one was not the first of them and will not, I fear, be the last.