When it comes to an important event, many people remember where they were when they first heard about it. The Kennedy assassination. The Berlin Wall coming down. Reagan being shot. These are all hallmark happenings that etched themselves into people’s memories.
I was sitting at my kitchen counter eating a Toaster Strudel on a Monday morning when I saw the “Today” show report on the Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston split. I don’t remember this because it was newsworthy. That’s hardly the case. After all, this was during a time when the tsunami of ‘04 was still fresh, Palestine had just held elections, and California was getting hit by massive storms. No, what struck me was how the report was presented.
There was sad music playing as an entertainment journalist discussed Pitt and Aniston’s life together, their careers, and speculated on what may have caused them to break up. As I was to learn later that day, some people thought it was because Pitt had been caught having phone sex with Angelina Jolie. (Who hasn’t had phone sex with her?) Others blamed Aniston because she didn’t want to have Pitt’s baby. (The nerve!) The story was presented with equal parts shock and sadness, and it reminded us of just how fragile the lives of beautiful people can be.
I wasn’t surprised by this being on the “Today” show. I didn’t expect to turn it on and see Noam Chomsky discussing the ramifications of the elections in Palestine; “Today” could never be accused of being too intellectual. What was surprising, however, was the reaction this break up received in the media and on the streets.
On “The View,” the new woman, whose name I won’t even bother looking up, said that the news “saddened” her the entire weekend. To put this in perspective, this lady is married to a professional football player, doesn’t like porn, and has a condition that seems to have started in my generation and has crippled every generation since: Her emotional maturity peaked at the age of fifteen and hasn’t progressed. (Ironically enough, she also supported Bush.)
Other people were sharing her feelings, though. It was amazing. Not only was this not news, it was also something nobody should have given two shits about unless they were directly related to either star.
Entertainment journalists, as to be expected, were having a field day. Suddenly there was job validation. Fans mourned or got cynical. And people like me were left open-mouthed by the sheer idiocy of it all. In a world where water wiped out a huge number of people just weeks earlier, this is what was capturing headlines. In an instant, the tsunami was forgotten and a story about the dissolving of a Hollywood marriage — an act as common as Botox and prescription drug abuse in the modern Babylon — got people talking.
As with any news event, people were suddenly experts on the subject of Pitt and Aniston and the state of Hollywood marriages. By “experts,” I mean that they took in a few news reports and were able to repeat what they heard verbatim without thinking about it. Just a week ago, these same people were experts on tsunamis and advance warning systems.
My world was upside down that day. Pitt and Aniston were making news for nothing, and almost everyone I encountered had something to say about that and how “Hollywood marriages never seem to last, with the exception of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.” It was enough to make my head explode.
I wish I had never turned on the “Today” show that Monday morning, or even stepped outside my door. I wish I didn’t have to write a column on this, but some things are just so glaringly stupid that to not comment on them would be remiss. This is obviously one of those things.
You want my opinion on the break up of their marriage? Here: I don’t care. I don’t know them, and it’s none of my business. I enjoy their work, but I don’t care to know about their personal lives as I don’t enjoy their work that much. I believe part of the reason they may have split was due to the pressure of being in such a public relationship. I believe we, as a culture, give these kinds of things too much attention when as individuals we would break if subjected to the same microscopic examination. I believe there are more important things to worry about in this world, and I definitely believe there are more important things to write about. Therefore, these will be my last words on the subject.
It’s none of my business. I don’t care. And neither should you.
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Posted on February 10, 2005 in Features by Doug Brunell
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