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Born unto Brangelina, a Sign!

Cult of the Bump begets Shiloh.

By Shannon Rupp 29 May 2006 |

Shannon Rupp was a Tyee contributing editor. For permission to reprint this article please contact the author: shannon(at) 

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Immaculate conception?

We all know the gods have a plan, so there is no such thing as coincidence.

Which is why we need to examine the weekend debut of the Jolie-Pitt baby girl, Shiloh Nouvel, and realize this isn't just another case of the wrong people breeding -- we're witnessing the dawn of a new religion.

The signs were all there. It's no accident that the debut of the much-anticipated Da Vinci Code blockbuster -- challenging the Jesus mythology -- coincided with the debut of Brangelina's equally-anticipated Bump, and both are premiering in spring, the season of birth and rebirth.

Taken together, these events smack of a Second Coming. Or the Messiah. Or the Chosen One. Pick the title that suits your faith, but there was never any doubt that it was a Holy Bump.

The first clue was that the Bump's existence was foreshadowed by a star, or rather Star, the tabloid that broke the story.

Note that Shiloh Nouvel was born in Africa, the cradle of civilization and the continent where humans originated. That has to be a sign.

Then there's the name. Shiloh is a unisex Hebrew name that means "peace." The French "nouvel" is the masculine form of "new." This baby's arrival means New Peace, and that androgynous name for a girl suggests she is an Everyperson, who will usher in a new equality. It appears the boy-centred desert religions are almost over.

And don't forget the events leading up to the birth, including the so-called Cult of Celebrity -- religions in their early stages are always referred to as "cults."

It's a given among trend-watchers that celeb scuttlebutt functions exactly as the Greek, Celtic or Christian myths do, showing people how the world works and how to live their lives. Like gossip, myths set community standards.

From that perspective, newspapers and magazines full of Hollywood tittle-tattle are like those early drafts of gospels that eventually became the Bible, or the supernatural stories that comprised ancient religions.

All Greek to me

Certainly, the Jen-Brad-Angie love triangle is the Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot legend for the reality TV generation.

This story has inspired new followers and even new signs of devotion, such as the Team Aniston and Team Jolie t-shirts. One uniformed member of Team Aniston even took a swing at the silicone-lipped actress, thus elevating Jolie to the status of the persecuted.

I have little interest in scandals of the stars, but for anyone who stands in grocery store line-ups there was no escaping this story as the heralds of the gods -- better known as the news media -- trumpeted every juicy detail. (Ever wonder why so many newspapers are called "Herald?" It's a sign.)

The battle of the Jen and Angie archetypes is reminiscent of the way immortals kicked-off the Trojan war with a bickerfest of powerful goddesses. Hera, Athene, and Aphrodite were squaring off in an early version of the Miss Universe Pageant and let a mortal, Paris, be the judge. Then they rigged the voting. Hera, wife of almighty Zeus, offered Paris a chance to be the most powerful man. Athene, goddess of warriors and wisdom, offered him the opportunity to be the wisest man. While Aphrodite, goddess of love, offered him the chance to be adored by the world's most beautiful woman.

Paris, a founding member of the Men are Pigs Club, handed the golden apple over to Aphrodite. In return, she cast a love spell over Helen, who had the face that launched a thousand ships.

Unfortunately, Helen was already married to a king but, well, at least Homer got a couple of swell epics out of it. And Brad got the lead in Troy. (Playing the son of a god: it's a sign.)

Interpreting Brangelina

In this image-conscious era, the Brad-and-Jen story was captivating because it suggested the triumph of a woman's personality over her looks -- a myth in which many of us wish to believe. Brad may have won the world's sexiest man title, but he married an average looking girl-next-door type who toiled in TV's lowly trenches. He could have had any glamour icon he wanted but he chose sweet over stunning.

It was just as our mothers told us: every woman could aspire to catching a man in the 99th percentile of fabulous if she was just nice enough and got the right haircut.

Alas, it was our fathers who turned out to be right: men are after only one thing.

When Brad dumped his virtuous wife for a sexy siren with a notorious reputation, he became the latest in a long line of celebrity presidents for the Men are Pigs Club. From Angelina's tattoos and the pendant with Billy-Bob's blood, to the speculation that she and her brother are a little too close (recall that icky Oscar speech) and her creepy orphan-collecting habit, the living Lara Croft is a legendary flake. Gorgeous she may be, but she also has the face that launched a thousand quips.

But wait: didn't Brad leave Jen because she chose her career over children? That makes Angelina the Madonna: after all she is risking that perfect physique with a pregnancy.

And didn't she say she would never get pregnant, she would always adopt? And didn't Brad insist they were just friends?

There are the seeds here of an Immaculate Bump: it's a sign.

Shiloh's early good works

Christian myth likes to split the virgin and the whore into two Marys, but Angelina embodies both, which makes perfect sense: what we're witnessing is the dawning of a new religion in which goddesses are just as powerful as gods.

The inexplicable popularity of the badly written Da Vinci Code was a sign of the story's true, spiritual nature. It was written to pave the way for New Peace by teaching us that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child -- which I, for one, don't doubt.

But now we need to take the next leap of faith and recognize that the holy bloodline obviously went on to spawn those charismatic figures known as celebrities. Why else would we instinctively revere the tiny shining ones with oversized heads?

Clearly, celebrity-devotion isn't a passing fad, it's the next evolution in the world of worship.

That the Holy Bump would be a girl was inevitable. She will be the ultimate It-Girl to rival Paris Hilton for cash, Brangelina for beauty, and the whole lot of them as an icon. Or as that insightful uber-celebrity John Lennon once put it, she'll be "more popular than Jesus."

That Shiloh Nouvel will be a force for good is undeniable. She's already responsible for an act of charity: first photo rights to the golden babe were bought by Us Magazine and the $5 million earned will be donated to the needy tots of UNICEF.

Without SIN?

All this makes sense only if you believe in a Higher Power. Let's face it: some magical thinking is the one thing that could explain the print media's bizarre devotion to celeb stories in the face of mockery and declining readership.

Clearly these heralds are compelled to relay mystical truths, even if it prompts the unenlightened to cancel their subscriptions.

As for the naysayers who despise Hollywood buzz as not news because it doesn't meet the formal definition of Significant, Interesting, or New – or SIN for short -- that used to be me.

But now I understand this brave New Age. When the dawn of New Peace was broadcast I embraced the good news. I didn't see it as a sin, or demand it be a SIN. Now I know it's just another sign.

© Shannon Rupp. For permission to reprint this article please contact the author: shannon(at)  [Tyee]

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