Can We Please Leave Jennifer Aniston Out of Brad and Angelina's Divorce?
Once again, Aniston finds herself mixed up in drama she didn't ask for.
Sometimes, things don't work out the way you thought they would.
On Tuesday, September 20, news leaked that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. The couple, who have been together for 12 years and married for two, share six children. Together they have weathered the immense pressure of Jolie's choice to undergo a double mastectomy, years of intense scrutiny as A-listers, and the stigma of being a couple born of infidelity, despite whatever the truth may be.
The only person who doesn't want to talk about it, and hasn't wanted to talk about it? Jennifer Aniston.
Painted as the jealous ex, the bitter singleton, the sad spinster, and the childless wench amongst a throng of other insults most often thrown at the female sex, Aniston too has weathered her own share of drama. In her case, however, it has always been the result of someone else's actions. Repeatedly, the 47-year-old has reminded fans, friends, and interviewers what we all know but just can't seem to accept: The divorce was more than a decade ago. It was tough at the time, but now there's nothing else to say. Every conversation on them should not include me. Aniston found herself as a twisted sort of third wheel in an already harrowing situation.
Seven months after Aniston and Pitt's divorce, the actress opened up about the experience to Vanity Fair contributing editor Leslie Bennetts in an article tastefully entitled "The Unsinkable Jennifer Aniston." Published in the September 2005 issue, Bennetts' anecdote of meeting Aniston "holed up" in a Malibu bungalow only for the star to burst into tears before they'd even begun speaking painted a portrait of a woman devastated by the loss of a great love. Even more so, however, it proved how demoralizing, humiliating, and daunting the public's perception was for her.
"...Aniston is all alone in the modest rental where she has camped out while dealing with the end of her marriage to Brad Pitt—and its devastating aftermath," Bennetts wrote, "which has been far worse than the actual split. The last few months have brought an endless nightmare of hurtful headlines about her soon-to-be-ex-husband, along with blatantly fraudulent stories about herself, in the tabloids and supermarket gossip magazines."
Throughout that interview, Aniston seemed genuine in her grief. But tellingly, instead of discussing the five-year marriage she had just lost, she chose to discuss the media. She illustrated how exhausting it was to heal from the most emotionally taxing event of her life while millions of people watched, judged, speculated, and assumed.
"When you try to avoid the pain, it creates greater pain," she said. "I’m a human being, having a human experience in front of the world. I wish it weren’t in front of the world. I try really hard to rise above it."
10 years later in 2015, Aniston told ET she was relieved the rumors of contention between Jolie and herself had finally died down.
"I think that's slowly coming to an end. I really do," she said. "It's just tiresome and old. It's like an old leather shoe."
Aniston couldn't have known that a year later, her ex-husband and Jolie would split themselves, and chances are she never wished, wanted, or willed that experience upon either of them.
Still, the public speculates:
"She must feel that karma has finally caught up."
"You share my mental image of Jen doing the happy dance in the middle of her 2000-square-foot creme marble kitchen while Justin Theroux pours her another glass of Cab, right?"
While our own speculation may paint Aniston as taking first place in the race this time around, what she's feeling is likely no different than the horror she lived through 10 years ago. What have been painted for her are the headlines splashed across the web regarding her so-called glee; the happiness we want her to feel because "karma" has finally reared its head. The scorned woman who finally caught a whiff of justice more than a decade later.
"We're on her side, justice has finally prevailed!" we shout to the skies as we retweet yet another meme of a victorious Rachel Green throwing out a fitting one-liner. But the cold, hard fact is that if we were really on her side, we wouldn't continue to define her by a relationship that lost all value to her 10 years ago.
So here's a different kind of Rachel Green for you.