The other camp consists of the not-as-media-literate (no bad thing) general public, who remain quite adoring of Kidman. My husband belongs to this club. So do some of my close friends and family members. And those who have seen Australia are even more emphatic with their praise of the actress. Most refer to the scene where she mounts her horse and has her first attempt at mustering cattle: "Ra, ra...!".
An online poll of 1000 Aussies by UMR Research conducted in November placed Nicole Kidman in the Top 10 Australian celebrities (yeah, I know there are slim pickings), with 58% having a positive perception of Nicole and 23% a negative one (compared to Hugh Jackman's respective 74% and 7%). More people like her than Kylie Minogue (53%) and Delta Goodrem (51%) but more people also dislike her (only 21% think negative thoughts about Kylie, but Delta's disliked by 24%), which is about on par with Elle Macpherson. To me, all these women (Nicole, Delta, Kylie and Elle) are of the same genre. All have clearly had a little work done – Macpherson may be the exception, but there is still something intrinsically fake about her; perhaps the accent? – and all are seemingly nice, Aussie-girls-next-door who've had international success and relationship dramas, yet remain somewhat elusive, their perfect exteriors masking what lies beneath. Yet Nicole has really copped it.
Obviously, inside the media bubble, with the exception of a few journalists who have come out in support of Kidman (perhaps just to be divisive) there is more hating going on compared to that of the general public. I obviously consume a heck of a lot of media, but having seen Australia (finally got around to seeing it on the weekend) and read the Q&A with Nicole in the December issue of US Glamour magazine, as well as contemplating our insatiable lust to know our celebrities warts-and-all, am now firmly on the fence... perhaps even erring towards the pro-Kidman side.
What I garnered from the Glamour feature, leading to this fence sitting position:
- She is an ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), yet isn't photographed on the ground like Angelina despite making a point of visiting women's shelters in places like Kosovo when she can (she says "I feel dedicated to giving back to other women"). She also works to raise funds for breast and ovarian cancer (like Sarah Murdoch - and we all love her, right?);
- She had to endure her new husband's stint in rehab in the face of a judgmental public but held her head high and is now positively circumspect about the experience ("the experience gave us deep honesty");
- She was married to a crazy person, but has never spoken a bad word about Tom or Katie (unlike Jennifer Aniston), even joking with Glamour about her kids: "They're used to having a little one around, because of Suri. Bella is very maternal. Connor would like one of us to have a boy. Katie?"
- She felt inferior as an actress when she was married to Tom: "I felt I became a star only by association. I didn't think [the early movies] were very good, which is why I would always cower in the background. I thought, I don't deserve to be here... I felt it was my job to put on a beautiful dress and be seen but not heard."
- She was single for six years (remember how we loved her when she was single?!): "I went six years alone. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but it's better to be alone than in a lousy relationship. Work was my escape. I was existing more strongly in my creative world than in my own world... I had to find my own identity and reason for being here, and it couldn't be because of another person."
- Even after winning her Oscar, she felt inferior, telling Glamour she went home early but if she could have the moment again would "stop being so shy and insecure, and revel in it... and go back to the Vanity Fair party!"
Girl With a Satchel