If you’re behind on your celebrity gossip, sit down and let me catch you up. It was recently announced that actor/director George Clooney is now engaged to humanitarian lawyer Amal Alamuddin, a British barrister (that’s across-the-pond English for attorney). She’s best known for representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but also known for advising United Nations former secretary-general Kofi Annan on Syria, and for challenging the detention of Ukraine’s ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko before the European Court of Human Rights.
You’d think that the media’s response to this would be something along the lines of “Two very powerful and important people have fallen in love and decided to make it legal — congratulations and best wishes to them. If Clooney and Alamuddin end up deciding to have children, their spawn will be royalty and all the light touches will be their kingdom.” Okay maybe that’s a little much, but you get the point. Their engagement is not a diving board for a story on how to hook a perpetual bachelor, or an investigation into Alamuddin’s “man-charming” secrets.
But, alas, it is.
The tabloid media is being by and large super gross about this engagement. If they’re not boiling Clooney and Alamuddin’s relationship down to one “massive” engagement ring, or making a fuss about Clooney FINALLY settling down, then they’re saying Alamuddin has “tamed” Clooney and congratulating her for “hooking the man who hates commitment.”
Hold on for just a second, I have to go find someplace to barf forever.
Alamuddin has found the person she wants to spend her life with. That’s what she should be congratulated for. Bringing verbs like “hooking” and “taming” into the conversation (and by conversation I mean the HEADLINES) rewrites the narrative. The story stops being about two powerful equals forming a partnership and starts being that-old-sexist-story-we’ve-heard-a-billion-times-before about a Cinderella using her fairy-tale charms to bag her Prince Charming. And that’s not AT ALL that’s happening here. Alamuddin is the furthest thing in the world from a damsel in distress. She’s the WikiLeaks lawyer. This is a crucial biographical fact that some media outlets are leaving out, because it gives her power, credibility, even controversy and it doesn’t serve a story’s “bachelor-taming, man-bagging, massive-ring wearing” spin. It’s terrible that the media is saddling her with these “hooking” and “taming” charges. And it’s terrible that they’re taking a role model of a woman and twisting the facts of her life to make her seem like the most outdated of clichés, all because she’s linked to a guy who’s really famous for being single.
There are some journalists, however, who are handling this story smartly, and with the right amount of awareness. Over at Slate the headline reads “London Human Rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin Is Engaged.” After covering Almuddin’s impressive resume, the article ends with this line: “Her husband-to-be is an American actor and director who played “Kip Howard” on the television mystery program Murder She Wrote.” Brilliant.