There aren’t many things that I see in the media that truly throw me off anymore. I mean, Donald Trump might be our next president. I thought I’d officially seen it all.
Unless you fell into a black hole for the past few days, you’ve likely heard about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s divorce filings. I usually run by the mantra my 7th grade English teacher preached, “If you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME!” but in this case, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard. I got three CNN alerts straight to my phone about it. I don’t even have a CNN app.
Beyond the fact that I think it’s ridiculous and perverse that our national news coverage, during a time of global and internal turmoil and social strife, is littered with images and assumptions about a failed marriage in which none of us were invested, I think the treatment of Jennifer Aniston during this is nothing short of bizarre, and dare I say it, super sexist.
We all love Jen, obviously. She’s Rachel Green and a dozen-odd other critically and academy acclaimed roles — but, let’s be honest, mostly Rachel Green, the “FRIENDS” fashionista who managed to pay rent in Manhattan on what appeared to be a very part-time barista’s salary. I work full-time and can barely afford my gym membership. Her character was an inspiration.
So why, now, as the news of her early 2000’s hubby’s divorce becomes national news, is she subplot that the media vultures have descended upon? I’ve seen around two dozen memes of Aniston gloating about the news. I’ve seen articles published by women’s magazines claiming Jennifer said “That’s karma for you!” quoting an “inside source.” Not naming any names, but said magazine’s mission statement claims to be “To empower young women.” Hmmm, if you are a magazine for women shouldn’t you avoid perpetuating the idea that women are eternally bitter when an ex wrongs them?
Why is it sexist? Well, where are the memes about Billy Bob Thorton? You know, the husband whose name Jolie had tatted on her bicep? Or what about Johnny Lee Miller’s? No one mentions them because they’re men, and the media portrays women as being distressed and dismayed without their male counterparts. The bitter divorcee narrative follows Anniston around not because she has done anything to prompt the media and the public thinking she feels scorned, but because she was the female lead.
This week, she’s portrayed in memes and articles plastered all over the web and physical news media as someone who has been waiting for this moment. People seem to be waiting on the edge of their seats for her to come out and say something publicly. To have a snarky, I-told-you-so remark to the media and to Brad. As though she’s waiting to reveal some biting opinions she has been harboring about Angelina for over a decade. Let’s stop waiting, guys, it’s not coming.
Let’s remember, according to my Googling, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt broke up 11 years ago. 11. Years. Ago. She broke up with Brad Pitt the same year that Demi Moore married Ashton Kutcher. The same year “How I Met Your Mother” had its first episode. The year Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch and told us all about how amazing Scientology is. These events are literally on an episode of “I Love the 2000s.” They are OLD.
Though I don’t know Jennifer Aniston personally — but am TOTALLY open to hanging out if you’re reading this, Jen– I’m going to
guess she’s not reveling in the sadness of her beaux of yesteryear. I doubt she feels joy witnessing the media circus around a divorce of two parents with six children. I doubt she wants to constantly relive her own divorce. Break-ups can be hard to handle, but she’s had a decade, roles in major movies, more endorsements than she can probably keep track of, and a new husband to help her cope.