There is no “Team Jen” or “Team Angie.” But there is a family suffering.
We’ve all seen them: The pictures, memes and GIFs of Jennifer Aniston smiling, cheering, smirking and generally looking pretty happy with herself.
They began to flood my Facebook and Twitter feeds just minutes after news broke yesterday that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. #TeamJen began trending on Twitter immediately, with the world happily reminding us of the supposed feud between the former and soon-to-be former Mrs. Brad Pitts.
People are taking pleasure in Brangelina’s breakup, and they’re particularly happy that Angelia Jolie finally “got hers,” as one friend posted—along with an article announcing the 41-year-old Jolie’s divorce filing, in which she’s seeking custody of the couple’s six children.
“It’s karma!” another friend said. Apparently the divorce is karma—the Hindu and Buddhist concept that holds that a person’s current actions decide their fate in future lives—because Angelina Jolie “stole” Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston all those years ago.
This line of thinking drives me completely mad. Not only is it generally horrible to be happy over other people’s misfortune and the pain that will now be inflicted on their children and family, but it’s also extremely anti-feminist to continue to view Angie as a homewrecker.
The media generally accepts that Jolie is guilty of the worst crime a woman can commit against another woman, and is therefore evil and doesn’t deserve happiness. Meanwhile, the media loves to depict Jennifer Aniston as weak and helpless because she “couldn’t keep her man.”
Painting one woman as an evil, man-stealing witch and the other woman as sad and pathetic—when we, the public, will likely never know the full story—casts both of them in a bad light.
As far as anyone knows, these two women have had no actual altercations. And now, post-divorce announcement, we’re dredging up that imaginary “Team Jen vs. Team Angie” fight and pitting two smart, funny, beautiful, hard-working women against each other. Why?
Because of a man, that’s why.
Talk about undermining everything we’ve ever learned about “girl power,” #SquadGoals and any other feminist concept. Today we’re sitting here giggling because we long ago painted one woman as “evil,” and now a personal tragedy in her life makes us believe we were right all along.
That’s just not how real life works, people.
Yes, Brad Pitt was Jennifer Aniston’s husband at one point. They were the Golden Hollywood It Couple and they were beautiful together. They looked happy and well put-together at awards shows, and the world loved them. I loved them too, to be honest, ever since Brad appeared in an episode of “Friends,” playing a character who revealed that he and Ross started a rumor about Rachel back in high school.
Those were good times, I admit. But then something changed between Jen & Brad. Sometime before or during or after Brad shot the movie “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” with Angie, Brad and Jen’s marriage fell apart.
And here’s the truth: We do NOT know why or how it happened.
Of course, it’s possible that the worst-case scenario is true: Brad cheated on Jen with Angie (GASP!) during the shoot. But there are other possibilities. It could also be true that Brad & Jen simply fell out of love, that she made the choice to never have children and he couldn’t live with it, that he made a connection with another woman slowly, over time, and made the extremely difficult decision to break up his marriage to seek happiness elsewhere.
The only thing we know to be true is that Brad and Angie ended up together, happily raising six children (some adopted and some biological) and looking pretty happy together, too.
Now that happiness is over.
By all accounts, the news is shocking. Brad Pitt released a statement in which he expresses a desire to ensure the well-being of his and Angie’s children. This is a SAD THING, you guys. Whether or not you like Brad or Angie or Jen, divorce is sad. Six children who were once part of a happy family will now come from a home with divorced parents. How difficult a period this will be for them.
And Jennifer Aniston? I have a sneaking suspicion she’s not actually jumping up and down in her Rachel cheerleading uniform, celebrating her ex-husband’s split from his second wife.
She’s not jumping on social media to post GIFs of her dancing around or commenting on the life of a man she hasn’t been married to for over 10 years. She’s not out gallivanting in front of paparazzi wearing a Team Jen T-shirt or waving a victory flag.
Nope. She’s currently happily married to Justin Theroux for over a year. She’s probably off doing her own thing and, if anything, reflecting that no matter what happened between her and Brad, he’s a grown man who made his own choices.
The bottom line is this: We’ll never know how much of this Jen vs. Angie feud is based in actual reality and how much is based on sensationalized stories and the overreactions of us, the adoring public. Dredging up the so-called “feud” is absolutely terrible. And Angelia Jolie does not deserve for it to be shoved in her face again as her marriage crumbles.
Brangelina, we loved you, too. I’m really sorry you will no longer be around to teach us about love. But I’m also sorry for Angie in particular, and sincerely hope that we’ll FINALLY stop blaming her for whatever real or perceived part she played in a story that was news 11 years ago. Instead, let’s focus on the present. Personally, I think this calls for ice cream and re-watching “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”