By Edwin Thomas:
September 20 was the day we had been training to face our entire lives. The sheer magnitude of global uncertainty, economic volatility and personal heartbreak were up for grabs when Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from her husband of two years, after at least 11 years together. You must have read the obituary – Brangelina is indeed no more.
The devastation and impact was real, apparently at the thrill of another major superstar and accomplished artiste, Jennifer Aniston, who happens to be the ex-wife in this long-running triangular saga.
It didn’t take long for the ‘poor Jen’ narrative to return in triumph to claim the mantle of superiority that she ‘deserved’ after being ‘left’ by a man ELEVEN years ago. The only problem is, it doesn’t corroborate with Aniston’s views on the same. But the take on the person involved does not matter (and why should it?) when these memes take over the internet:
— Matthew Crane (@CraneOfficial) September 20, 2016
— Renee H. (@mtgreiunicorn) September 20, 2016
— Jon M Roth (@jonmroth) September 20, 2016
#JusticeForJen is trending and with good reason. You would think from these GIFs that The Golden Globe, SAG Award and Emmy-award winning actress, who was last year’s fourth highest paid, has a net worth of over $150 million and is happily married, was screaming with joy after avenging the ‘injustice’ that was done to her.
The two problems with this narrative is, one, our sexism is out for the world to see and rejoice, and two, Aniston does not need ‘justice’.
This would not be the last time when Aniston will be dragged into this rift. Every public step of the #Brangelina breakup will somehow be linked to her. In fact, the love triangle of Aniston, Jolie and the man in consideration has lasted for more than a decade – longer than both the marriages combined. It’s 2016, but it feels like 2005 because we’re still talking about poor Jen.
Let’s not forget, back in 2005, the Oscar-winning ‘home-wrecker’ Angelina Jolie was accused of conniving and setting devious plans into action as she ‘stole’ away true love from ‘poor Jen’, the girl-next-door turned ‘damsel in distress’. The man in the picture, however, became the cool dude who cruised towards professional success never to be bogged down by personal matters.
Marriages are hard, public marriages make things worse. “Nobody did anything wrong…. It was just like, sometimes things [happen]” said Aniston in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “If the world only could just stop with the stupid, soap-opera bullshit.” Ten years later with a successful career, she is still chased with these questions.
Every private step taken became a victim to this narrative – be it every single time Jolie had a kid with him or when Jen went on a date, or sat with a man, or ate an apple, or got married in 2015.
Let’s break this down because this is not just the result of the popularity of the three parties involved. How we perceive and characterise women who are single/divorced/widowed/’childless’ is highly driven by patriarchal notions of what constitutes happiness and feeling ‘complete’ for a woman. Many of her career moves and the films she has done has been defined in terms of a marriage that happened too long ago and from which both have seemingly moved on. She is aware of this narrative and has tried to use it to her advantage:
Everyone is sharing Jennifer Aniston memes like she cares about the divorce. Would you care if this was your 2nd husband? Didn't think so. pic.twitter.com/AU1qwvz6bA
— Chris (@slothsrights) September 20, 2016
— Jeney Maria (@Jeneymaria) June 25, 2016
Why is it hard to look at her marriage and life in her terms and her terms alone? This must be new to many folks but marriage and/or pregnancy need not ‘complete’ every single woman. Leave it to them to decide what does.
Bollywood too had its share of some pretty intense drama when world icon Aishwarya Rai and Bhai (enough said) decided to end things for good with Rai citing verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Similarly, every single step taken in her personal life became a matter of how she is either trying to get over Bhai or she is trying to fill in the empty void after Bhai left her life (with his antics). It gets crazier:
To end with Jen’s words:
“We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.”