“Poor needy pathetic desperate Jen
How did Jennifer Aniston, once America├óΓé¼Γäós Sweetheart, morph into America├óΓé¼Γäós Spinster?”
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[Image via WENN.]
Poor needy pathetic desperate Jen
How did Jennifer Aniston, once America├óΓé¼Γäós Sweetheart, morph into America├óΓé¼Γäós Spinster?
Vogue editor Anna Wintour knows how to sell magazines, which explains the ├óΓé¼┼ôWhat Angelina Did Was Very Uncool├óΓé¼┬¥ line on the cover of the December issue next to Jennifer Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós face. The quote was lifted from an interview in which the former Friends star was asked about Angelina Jolie├óΓé¼Γäós gushing to the magazine in 2007 about falling in love with Brad Pitt while he was still hitched to her. Playing Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós first public comment about Jolie so boldly was a master stroke destined to generate epic buzz.
For Aniston, though, the incident ushered in yet another of the ├óΓé¼┼ôPoor Jen! Duped again!├óΓé¼┬¥ moments that have dogged her since her 2005 divorce from Pitt. Not only did Vogue exploit Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós tepid smackdown, making her appear obsessed with the siren who stole her husband, it squared the two women off against one another more subtly. Astute fashionistas were quick to note that the cover image of Aniston posed on a beach in a cleavage-displaying, off-the-shoulder, red Narciso Rodriguez gown echoed the cover shot of Jolie in January 2007 in which she rocked a cleavage-displaying, off-the-shoulder, red Bill Blass against a sandy backdrop. Jolie├óΓé¼Γäós cover line, however, was a more triumphant ├óΓé¼┼ôWhy Her Real Life is More Romantic Than Any Movie.├óΓé¼┬¥ The disparity continued inside: in 2007, Jolie was shown with Pitt and their numerous children; in the current issue, Aniston is pictured with her dog Norman.
Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós Vogue appearance is part of a publicity blitz for her two new movies, Marley & Me, which opens on Dec. 25, and He├óΓé¼Γäós Just Not That Into You, which arrives in February. Neither role, it├óΓé¼Γäós safe to say, will eclipse the one she currently plays in the cultural imagination├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥that of the archetypal Wronged Wife subject to an endless loop of ├óΓé¼┼ôJen Is Devastated!├óΓé¼┬¥ ├óΓé¼┼ôJen Is Furious!├óΓé¼┬¥ ├óΓé¼┼ôJen Gets Revenge!├óΓé¼┬¥ bogus theorizing. Since her divorce, America├óΓé¼Γäós Sweetheart has morphed into America├óΓé¼Γäós Spinster. The unmarried, childless Aniston has become the tabloids├óΓé¼Γäó Miss Havisham, portrayed as lonely, needy and locked in the past. The website Dlisted.com recently advertised a US$19.95 ├óΓé¼┼ôBoyfriend Arm Pillow├óΓé¼┬¥ thus: ├óΓé¼┼ôNow, every time the Jennifer Aniston in your life calls you, wanting to whine for hours about how they are so f├óΓé¼ΓÇ£king lonely and their cats are even giving them the side-eye, you can simply say, ├óΓé¼╦£Aniston in my life, go canoodle with the Boyfriend Arm Pillow I got you for Christmas.├óΓé¼Γäó ├óΓé¼┬¥ Celebrity gossip site PerezHilton.com refers to her cruelly as ├óΓé¼┼ôManiston.├óΓé¼┬¥
Her alleged tribulations sell big time. ├óΓé¼┼ôWe can├óΓé¼Γäót get enough of her,├óΓé¼┬¥ says Dina Sansing, entertainment director at US Weekly, where every issue features at least one Aniston photo or story. She├óΓé¼Γäós No. 2 on the ├óΓé¼┼ôMost Valuable Celebrity Faces├óΓé¼┬¥ of 2008 list in terms of newsstand sales, according to Forbes. (In a rare case of tabloids imitating life, ├óΓé¼┼ôPoor Jen!├óΓé¼┬¥ was knocked off her No. 1 perch this year by Jolie.) Women relate to her, says Sansing, a bond that dates back to 1994 when Aniston entered homes as flaky, likeable Rachel Green. Female fans flocked to copy Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós haircut, known as ├óΓé¼┼ôThe Rachel.├óΓé¼┬¥ And now they rally to share her pain├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥as well as a schadenfreude thrill.
Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós position atop the tabloid pantheon was cemented with her union with Pitt, whom she met Hollywood cute in 1998 through their mutual agent. The merger of America├óΓé¼Γäós Sweetheart and the World├óΓé¼Γäós Sexiest Man in 2000 was a lavish event that featured a 40-person gospel choir and fireworks over the Pacific. They were the king and queen of the Hollywood prom, with matching tans and blond streaks. When they split Aniston was poised for post-Friends career breakout; initially she was the one blamed for being unwilling to ├óΓé¼┼ôhave Brad├óΓé¼Γäós babies,├óΓé¼┬¥ to employ tabloid lexicon. When Jolie├óΓé¼Γäós involvement became known, Aniston became the object of sympathy, and pity. After all, what chance did the Girl Next Door have against the Girl From the Next Galaxy? The New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane summed up perception of Jolie├óΓé¼Γäós snaring of Pitt: ├óΓé¼┼ôShe took one look at the world├óΓé¼Γäós most widely desired man and scooped him up with no more ado than a Parisian grande dame tucking a chihuahua into her clutch bag.├óΓé¼┬¥
The scandal was likened to Eddie Fisher leaving Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor in the ├óΓé¼Γäó60s. But back then there wasn├óΓé¼Γäót a celebrity media complex ready to pounce on Reynolds├óΓé¼Γäó every humiliation, real or imagined. For the wounded Aniston, the salt poured down, beginning with an arty 60-page photo spread in the June 2005 W titled ├óΓé¼┼ôDomestic Bliss,├óΓé¼┬¥ in which Pitt and Jolie presided over a band of little blond Brads.
Aniston shot back with a tearful Vanity Fair interview in which she admitted to being hurt and lonely and denied rumours that she didn├óΓé¼Γäót want children: ├óΓé¼┼ôThat really pissed me off. I├óΓé¼Γäóve never in my life said I didn├óΓé¼Γäót want to have children. I did and I do and I will!├óΓé¼┬¥
The trendy L.A. store Kitson capitalized on the conflict, selling ├óΓé¼┼ôTeam Aniston├óΓé¼┬¥ and ├óΓé¼┼ôTeam Jolie├óΓé¼┬¥ T-shirts. ├óΓé¼┼ôTeam Aniston├óΓé¼┬¥ outsold 25-to-one in the beginning, reports owner Fraser Ross. Elaine Lui, founder of the popular celebrity gossip blog Laineygossip.com and an eTalk reporter, believes Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós plight taps into female anxiety. ├óΓé¼┼ôThere├óΓé¼Γäós a fear among many women that their husband is going to work one day and hook up with the hot colleague,├óΓé¼┬¥ she says. ├óΓé¼┼ôSo every time they see Jennifer Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós face they can├óΓé¼Γäót help but feel for her or support her, not because they like her but because they feel a vote for her is a vote for themselves.├óΓé¼┬¥
As part of the most mused-upon triangle since Euclid, Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós now intractably tethered to Pitt and Jolie in a perverse geometry: for every ├óΓé¼┼ôBrangelina├óΓé¼Γäós Baby Joy├óΓé¼┬¥ headline, there├óΓé¼Γäós the inevitable ├óΓé¼┼ôJen Alone in Malibu!├óΓé¼┬¥ sidebar. In the gravitas sweepstakes, she├óΓé¼Γäós the lesser, a sun lamp eclipsed by a supernova. As Pitt and Jolie tour refugee camps and rebuild New Orleans, she├óΓé¼Γäós photographed bagging rays in Cabo and dating a series of child-men, most lately the singer John Mayer, which sparked the recent Life & Style cover line: ├óΓé¼┼ôHaving More Surgery for John?├óΓé¼┬¥
Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós post-Pitt hookups, which include Vince Vaughn, her co-star in The Break-Up, have the whiff of publicity stunt. Lui views Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós relationship with Mayer, whose conquests include Jessica Simpson and who├óΓé¼Γäós nine years her junior, as an attempted ├óΓé¼┼ôScrew you├óΓé¼┬¥ to Jolie: ├óΓé¼┼ôShe├óΓé¼Γäós saying, ├óΓé¼╦£I├óΓé¼Γäóm 40 but I can still bag a younger man and change him.├óΓé¼Γäó I almost feel sorry for her talking about her like this, it├óΓé¼Γäós so misguided.├óΓé¼┬¥
Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós uterine status is the subject of constant speculation as she approaches the big 4-0. ├óΓé¼┼ôShe├óΓé¼Γäós Having John├óΓé¼Γäós Babies,├óΓé¼┬¥ announced Star magazine in mid-November, which claimed Aniston was undergoing ├óΓé¼┼ôsecret fertility treatments├óΓé¼┬¥ to have twins. That same week, In Touch falsely reported it was a fait accompli: ├óΓé¼┼ôJen├óΓé¼Γäós Bump Gets Bigger.├óΓé¼┬¥
Of course, obsession with celebrity baby bumps drive newsstand sales. ├óΓé¼┼ôHer fans are interested in her having a traditional husband and house,├óΓé¼┬¥ says Sansing. ├óΓé¼┼ôThey├óΓé¼Γäóre very eager for her to have this life that we all think she├óΓé¼Γäós wanted for some time.├óΓé¼┬¥
Aniston├óΓé¼Γäós inability├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥or unwillingness├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥to fulfill her perceived maternal destiny is magnified exponentially by Jolie├óΓé¼Γäós and Pitt├óΓé¼Γäós relentless child acquisition; they├óΓé¼Γäóve added an average of 1.6 children per year to their family. Yet Jolie├óΓé¼Γäós Earth Mother status hasn├óΓé¼Γäót interfered with her stellar career. Since 2005, she has made nine movies, two of which generated Oscar buzz.
Aniston has made seven, two with cringe-inducing, too-close-to-life titles. As Fug Girls, New York magazine├óΓé¼Γäós fashion blog, observed: ├óΓé¼┼ôThe Break-Up was bad enough, but He├óΓé¼Γäós Just Not That Into You? Honey, no. There├óΓé¼Γäós self-awareness, and then there├óΓé¼Γäós masochism.├óΓé¼┬¥
It├óΓé¼Γäós as if the lens trained on Aniston is fated to dredge up the past. She├óΓé¼Γäós photographed often with former Friends co-star Courteney Cox, reminding the public of Rachel; in a Smart Water ad, she├óΓé¼Γäós surrounded by children of various ethnicities, summoning inevitable comparison to Jolie; her recent guest appearance on 30 Rock as a stalker sent up her real-life victim persona.
Lui believes the focus on Aniston as victim is misbegotten. ├óΓé¼┼ôI think we need to examine ourselves as a society,├óΓé¼┬¥ she says. ├óΓé¼┼ôFor some reason we love the soap opera aspect of a weak victim like Jennifer Aniston and the mobilization to rally around her.├óΓé¼┬¥ She sees Aniston as hostage to her own publicity: ├óΓé¼┼ôShe sold this image of herself and now she can├óΓé¼Γäót shake it. She has become the poster girl for crying yourself to sleep at night.├óΓé¼┬¥
It├óΓé¼Γäós a label Aniston tries to shake: ├óΓé¼┼ôThis whole ├óΓé¼╦£Poor lonely Jen├óΓé¼Γäó thing, this idea that I├óΓé¼Γäóm so unlucky in love? I actually feel I├óΓé¼Γäóve been unbelievably lucky in love,├óΓé¼┬¥ she told Vogue. ├óΓé¼┼ôJust because at this stage my life doesn├óΓé¼Γäót have the traditional framework to it├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥the husband and the two kids and the house in Connecticut├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥it├óΓé¼Γäós mine. It├óΓé¼Γäós my experience. And if you don├óΓé¼Γäót like the way it looks, then stop looking at it!├óΓé¼┬¥
That├óΓé¼Γäós not going to happen, especially now that Pitt├óΓé¼Γäós promoting The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which also opens on Dec. 25. Brangelina domestic bliss will be displayed large, as in the ├óΓé¼┼ôprivate├óΓé¼┬¥ photographs Pitt took of Jolie displayed in the November issue of W.
Appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show in mid-November, Aniston tried to distance herself from the breakup: ├óΓé¼┼ôI don├óΓé¼Γäót go there,├óΓé¼┬¥ she said. ├óΓé¼┼ôIt├óΓé¼Γäós a hundred years old for Chrissakes.├óΓé¼┬¥ Still, Winfrey stoked the embers, asking Aniston if she wanted to beat Pitt at the box office. ├óΓé¼┼ôWhat am I going to say?├óΓé¼┬¥ she replied, ├óΓé¼┼ôCan we do a tie?├óΓé¼┬¥ No chance of that. The next week, she was ├óΓé¼┼ôDevastated Jen├óΓé¼┬¥ once again on the cover of Star, once again the proxy for the real world of broken dreams.