The SAG Awards had one viral moment that burst through the pop culture ceiling and into mainstream trending topics on Monday morning: Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were feet away from one another and seemingly spoke cordially. Be still our hearts.
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This short series of still images let loose a flurry of happy tweets and Instagram comments that ranged from “I AM NOT OKAY” to “This is what GenX has been praying for” to “ADOPT ME, Mom and Dad!” And every last one of them left me scratching my head.
Jennifer Aniston Deserves Better
Correct me if I am wrong, but I would like to lay out some Brad and Jen facts before I move forward.
- It has been 15 years since they divorced.
- Said divorce was acrimonious.
- It was acrimonious because he cheated on her with a co-star.
- The media narrative following said cheating and divorce treated Jennifer Anniston like everything from frigid haus frau to clueless ingenue to anti-motherhood feminazi to second rate actress who only wishes she could be Angelina Jolie.
- That narrative only very, very recently died down, but she is still forever linked to the pity that ensued.
- She was nominated for and won for a role that has zero to do with this ex-husband.
Did I get all that right? Then why in seventh circle on non-existent hell are we freaking out over a couple of photos in which it looks like she is doing her level best to be polite and then get the hell away from him?
I don’t like to ever take a still photo and wrap an entire narrative around it (for more on that, please see my seminal work on the dangers of real life shipping), but the best picture of the whole bunch is unequivocally the one where she is WALKING AWAY.
Hey boss I’m not coming in today, I’ll be analyzing this pic of Brad Pitt holding Jennifer Aniston’s hand all day pic.twitter.com/rek4eet9f5
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) January 20, 2020
We’ve all been here.
This is a photo of a woman who has no real time for a man who treated her dirty. A man who has been out of her life for a decade and a half. A colleague, but not one she has to work with, just one she has to be cordial to at industry events. Somebody that other people truly never knew or refused to believe was as “bad as all that.”
She smiled, and said hello. He held on to her wrist as she walked away. And we have romanticized this moment like it says something inspiring about love.
How about THIS ONE.
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This is a photo of a woman in her 50’s who just won a prestigious and coveted professional award from a community of her peers and her industry. A confident, celebrated, female career professional holding a deserved accolade. She just experienced a bit of a personal renaissance with her role in The Morning Show, and we have relegated her win to a fleeting moment with her shitty ex.
If you think I’m exaggerating how overblown this moment has been online, please observe this:
‼️ EXCLUSIVE ‼️ Brad Pitt stopped everything backstage to watch Jennifer Aniston’s acceptance speech at the #SAGAwards. Wow guys—it really has been our day, our week, our month, and even our year. https://t.co/m7r01pojsC pic.twitter.com/th9sm1js4D
— E! News (@enews) January 20, 2020
Headlines like “Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt Reunite” and “Jennifer said Brad Was ‘So Sweet’ Backstage” follow moments like this one where she looks palpably uncomfortable with his being mentioned, and dodges talking directly about him.
Can she please go through one interview about her win that doesn’t mention her ex? Her win wasn’t Brad. It wasn’t seeing Brad again. It wasn’t whooping for Brad during his speech about being a bad husband. Her win was simply HER WIN.
Beth is the proud sponsor of two little women and a huge fan of fandom. She took 3 years of Latin in high school and now speaks fluent pretension, which fully explains her current preference for gay wizard regency novels. She will roll over for a giant book with a map in the front. She takes comic book recommendations every day but Wednesday and TV recommendations never (she knows what's good).