Mags: The Nicole Conundrum

As mentioned in yesterday's Latte Post, Nicole Kidman has positively polarised the population. From where I sit, there are two camps: the female, celebrity-media-consuming one, who largely dislike Kidman because she has been dishonest by omission about having 'work' done, is devoid of genuine acting talent and is a walking ad for the kind of unattainable perfectionism we loathe. Fair enough. Facebook has been a particularly vitriolic breeding ground for the haters.

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!"
Amazing how a single feature story can change one's opinion. I can sympathise with her insecurities. Plus, we're all a product of our experiences, and I can imagine being married to the controlling Tom Cruise left an indelible mark on Kidman. Added to that, she's also just a shy girl who went to North Sydney Girls' High. Perhaps it's the Christmas spirit, but I feel increasingly compassionate towards her... Botox and all.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel


Style On Track said...

Hmmm.... for some reason I can't seem to be a fan of Miss Kidman

Anonymous said...

The only thing I thought, after the critiques following Australia, is that journalists finally realised that Kidman is the kiss of death to the films she's in. But her outright lie, of not having work done, can be seen in scenes (even in Australia) where she can't move the top half of her face. I remember her mag covers for Dolly and Cleo. She's definitely had work done.

Anonymous said...

Hi Erica,

I've just read this on the SMH about the PBL media rescue:

SSnnyfat said...

I'm celebrity media consuming, and I'm pro Nicole for all the reasons you went on to list and more. Such as her endless elegance, poise, and call me old fashion - manners.

You say it's "amazing how a single feature story can change one's opinion". Yes it is. I also think it's amazing, and very disappointing, how a single incident like the botox denial can change so many's opinion.

For all the good things she has done, both personally, professionally, and charitably, it's sad that so many choose to focus on one small thing, and don't look at the big picture.

J. M. said...

Nicole is a great ambassador for Australia, we shouldn't judge anyone and really what people do to their own bodies is their own business.I always think that how you are created is your best look, and to age naturally is healthier and safer. I love grey hair on women and on men, both look beautiful.

Anonymous said...

@ SSnnyfat: People don't like to be lied to, especially when it is so obvious that she has had at least Botox, if not more cosmetic enhancements. That said, she doesn't really owe us anything and can reveal or conceal any details of her life she wishes. I do agree with you that in the grand scheme of things, is it really that big a deal if her forehead doesn't move?

Anonymous said...

What an interesting article! It's so true about Nicole, Delta, Kylie and Elle. I feel the same away about the 4 of them, and it ain't rosy!

the assistant said...

'We' (the Aussie nation) do judge our stars... but we praise them too and love to have 'one of us' in the lime light overseas. To be honest I verge more on the anti-Kidman front, but only because of the negative comments I've heard from people who have had the opportunity to interact with her; namely hair stylists and editors who have worked with Kidman on shoots. But, she may have been having a few off-days, so maybe I'll give that interview a read and rustle up some time to watch Australia (although it's not yet out in the UK)... and maybe, just maybe, I'll find a perch on the fence!

Anonymous said...

It is a big deal if an actress can't move her face for most of her films because it restricts the emotional range.
And as mentioned above, women don't like to be lied to by actresses who make public proclamations about their 'naturalness,' because it sets up a host of issues. As for the UN thing? A lot of celebrities are convenient UN mouthpieces, who occasionally travel to war torn nations (with bodyguards). And?

Rachel said...

I'm so glad you're now on Nicole's side. I've always loved her, and loved her even more when a creative genius such as Baz Luhrmann clearly loves her and respects her as much as he evidently does. Having survived a controlling relationship of my own (and certainly not in the public eye) I have nothing but respect for her strength - particularly being single for 6 months. Hollywood seems like a lonely place, and I think she's a phenomenal woman.