For more than a decade, I have lived a life apart from the rest of society— in a sort of in-between, a lonely place where my allegiances, my very identity is uncertain. Everyone else seemed to know where he or she belonged, instinctively, immediately. Everyone else seemed to have something to fight for, and maybe more importantly, fight against.
It was animating, unifying for each side— an oft-thrummed chord of cultural memory to remind us of where we stand, and that we stand for what we believe across decades, even (especially?) when besieged by chunky highlights and Ashlee Simpson’s solo career.
But not for me.
In the case of Team Jen vs. Team Angelina, I am neutral. I have no team.
Today, Angelina Jolie announced she is filing for divorce from Brad Pitt after two years of marriage and 10 years before that of doubling up on swag bags at the Oscars. They have six stylish, beautiful children.
The combination of this earth-shattering pop cultural revelation and modern social media’s requirement that everyone have a very specific and passionate opinion on such a thing has brought me here, where I must make this shameful confession:
I think Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie both seem like fairly likable ladies who are very hot in very different ways, have aged gracefully, and whom I enjoy watching on screen, even if they both kind of play the same character all the time.
That’s it. That’s my opinion. Nothing about “Mr and Mrs. Smith.” Never even saw it. As my girlfriends Zaprudered the 2005 action flick for evidence of Pitt cheated on then-wife Aniston while filming, I watched “I Know What You Did Last Summer” for a fifth time and reveled in its lack of subtext.
As a general rule, I root for marriage. I therefore hoped Jen and Brad would work it out then and now wish Brangelina not to become yet another Hollywood couple name put asunder by man (or other woman, as it might be).
But that’s as far as I got. I never chose a team. I never delved into the details of who was wronged when and whether Aniston has been dining out on her wronged womanhood for years. The origin story of Brangelina and their nemesis Scorned Jen is as vaguely familiar to me as Harley Quinn’s or Green Lantern’s. Society demands at high decibel that I familiarize myself with these things periodically, but if I were to recite what I “know” to a superfan, I’d be fact-checked all the way to Belle Reve (I just Googled that).
These are things I hear about in passing, while buying a Mounds at the CVS, but they never prick my heart or my conscience. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not above a good tabloid story. It’s just this particular one leaves me pleasantly but unsatisfyingly bobbing between two beacons. I have often wondered if there’s something wrong with me, but Aniston recently said in the seventh graf of anodyne, social-justice-y philosophizing for the unpaid blog publication of another rich lady that I can “determine my own ‘happily ever after’ for myself.” So, here it is. Free to be me, over here.
Is there part of me that feels I’ve failed myself and society on one of the great moral questions of the day? Sure, but I also suspect there may be more like me. Anyone can give voice to the voiceless. Today, I give absolution to the opinionless.
I thought Jolie was perfectly cast for “Tomb Raider” and Aniston’s comic timing was underrated in “Office Space.” I wish them both the best, with or without Brad. It’d be more fun to take a side. It’d at least be more interesting to hate them both. But here I am, in the dull dishwater void neither woman’s highlights nor hands will ever touch. Mine is the worst position, but it is mine.
Aniston recently declared she is not less of a woman for not having children. I am here to say I’m not less of one for not having an opinion. I am woman, hear me meh.