The announcement that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from Brad Pitt sent journalists and twitter into a tailspin. Suddenly, we had headlines galore and twitter was full of memes. Initially, what was much of the focus on? The demise of Brangelina? The children? Nope, Jennifer Anniston. 11 years later and we (me included) are still harping on about Team Jen and Team Jolie. Why did we care so much about Brad Pitt leaving Jennifer Anniston for Angelina Jolie and why do we still care?
In the words of Blur, we are all singing about stereotypes. When it comes to Brad, Angelina and Jen, we are all guilty of perpetuating these stereotypes. I know that I hungrily scoured the newspapers for details of the break-up. I felt satisfied when I read that Jen had reportedly said,
“That’s karma for you”
Back when Brad left Jen, we were told to pick a side. It was the ultimate stereotype battle. We had the good-looking, kind but perhaps a bit dumb leading man in Brad. A man who apparently had been beguiled by Angelina. The news reports implied that poor Brad didn’t stand a chance against the man-eater, Angelina. Yes, we saw the blame being put on the woman again. She should have known better, Brad was married. We were encouraged to pick our sides. Would we go for the blonde girl next door? Smiley and innocent. Or would we go for Angelina, brunette, dangerous and brooding. Why do we still continue to see two females pitted against each other and why are we still buying into it?
Angelina has always been labelled the ‘home wrecker’ while Jen was the poor and weak ‘victim’. I remember at the time that the reporting was very sympathetic towards Brad, with some news outlets apparently claiming that Jen brought it on herself as she wasn’t ready to have children. The implication being that Jen was denying Brad his right and, therefore, no wonder Brad went and got with Angelina. He was merely looking for a lady to have his babies. All very caveman though. I would like to think that we have moved on from caveman beliefs and attitudes. But it appears not. Apparently, Jen’s happiness rests on the fact whether Brad and Angelina are happily married. Now that they are not, we are being told that Jen must be over the moon and happy again. Yes, Jen was jilted, not days ago but years ago. She has moved on, people. We are not talking about a lonely spinster. Jen is happily married. Yet, we continue to buy the idea that a woman’s happiness is linked to the man she is with. Jen lost her man and therefore she must be really unhappy. Let’s not even throw into the mix the media’s obsession with the fact that Jen hasn’t had children. The press loves to have a field day with the fact that Jen is childless, painting Jen as broken, emotionally unstable and unable to have children. The media can’t comprehend that perhaps Jen might have decided not to have children because she was busy enjoying her successful career.
However, we can’t just blame the media. I too found myself wondering what Jen thought about the news of Brad’s and Angelina’s divorce. I am just as bad as the media. Looking for gossip and falling for the stereotypes. I have exes. Yet, I don’t know what they are all up to today, I don’t know if they are married or single. I don’t know because I don’t care. I have moved on just like Jen moved on. I am cross with myself for falling for this patriarchal rubbish, for buying into the stereotypes. There is no such thing as teams here. All we have is the end of a marriage and that’s sad. We have a family splitting up and two people who once loved each other very much are now getting divorced, that’s the real story. It will be interesting to see how this news story continues to pan out. I suspect we will soon be seeing headlines where Angelina is portrayed as the home wrecker as she chose to end the marriage, and it will be “poor Brad”.
What do you think? Are we all guilty of stereotyping?
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