[FOUNTAIN]Shades of gray

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[FOUNTAIN]Shades of gray

The actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are known as “Brangelina” as a couple. They are the world’s most famous celebrity couple of the early 21st century. The couple is presenting a new model in lifestyle, family structure, social participation as celebrities and charity work.
It is well known that Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie are not legally married. Instead, the couple created a multinational, multiracial family beyond blood relations and the conventional institution of marriage. Ms. Jolie, who has long been participating in a campaign to help refugees, announced that she would donate one-third of her income to humanitarian groups. Largely influenced by Ms. Jolie’s social awareness, the Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt was converted to activism as well. The actor, who recently donated $4 million to African charities, made the “15 People Who Make America Great” list selected by Newsweek.
The money came from the sale to media outlets of the first photos of Shiloh Nouvel Jolie Pitt, the couple’s child born in April. After the photos were published, the gray shirt the baby was wearing became wildly popular. The $38 cotton shirt was sold out in stores all over the United States.
Parenting magazine’s editor-in-chief, Janet Chen, said that the couple dressed the baby in a neutral color instead of the gender stereotyping pink or blue, and the choice of color was “quite in keeping with Brad and Angelina.” Neither was the shirt white, another color that would traditionally symbolize the purity of a newborn baby.
In the photos, Mr. Pitt and Zahara, his adopted daughter born in Ethiopia, were dressed in neutral, light gray. The lovely shades of gray in the family photos seem to have been chosen as a symbol of “cool” and the cultural sensitivity of the Brangelina family, which challenges and overcomes conventional ideas, boundaries and authority.
For a long time, gray has been a color of sin and injustice. It used to symbolize ambiguous identity, impersonality, depression and alienation from the world. Especially in the era of ideological confrontation, a cruel fate awaited the gray. “Gray” was the most shameful brand for intellectuals at the time.
But the dichotomic confrontations and divisions all over the society from ideology to morals to sex to politics are crumbling, and perhaps the meaning of gray needs to be reinterpreted. The ambiguous gray zone is not cowardly opportunism but a middle ground of compromise and understanding.
Koreans value pure blood so much that we despise gray, but that might be impeding Korean society’s development.


by Yang Sung-hee

The writer is a culture and sports desk writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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