‘BrexPitt’: shock over iconic couple’s split

Once upon a time: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt married in 2014 with their six kids. © PA

After 12 years together and just two years of marriage, Hollywood’s biggest couple are officially finished. Are we right to mourn the end of Brangelina? Or was the fairytale always a fantasy?

The rumours were flying almost instantly. Does Brad have an anger problem? Did he have an affair on the set of his new movie? Was it his strict parenting style?

The official reasons are still unclear, but the indisputable fact remains: Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.

When the news broke on Tuesday, the world was shocked. #Brangelina, the original celebrity portmanteau, was soon trending worldwide on Twitter. Images of Pitt’s triumphant ex-wife Jennifer Aniston flooded timelines. ‘2016 has gone too far this time,’ wrote one user. ‘Love is dead,’ wrote hundreds more.

And so the couple ended the way they began: in a storm of media attention.

The pair fell in love on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith, while Pitt and Aniston were still married. But as the scandal of the affair faded, brand ‘Brangelina’ took on a new identity — it became ‘transcendent’, wrote The Washington Post yesterday.

‘Brangelina’ was not about gossip. It was global, high-minded, and humanitarian. The couple visited refugee camps, helped earthquake victims in Pakistan, and adopted children from around the world. Jolie became an ambassador for the UN, and Pitt took on more thoughtful acting roles. They avoided marriage until LGBT couples could wed too. Jolie raised awareness of breast cancer by speaking out about her double mastectomy. But now ‘irreconcilable differences’ have split them apart.

Should we really be surprised? Hollywood marriages are not known for their longevity — even in 1900, the profession with the highest divorce rate was ‘actors and professional showmen’, followed closely by ‘musicians’. And Jolie’s lawyer, Laura Wasser, has made her career as the ‘queen’ of celebrity divorce. Previous clients include Britney Spears, Johnny Depp and three Kardashians. When clients visit her office, they are greeted with a box of tissues, and a framed canvas of the words ‘The End’.

Happily never after

Do not despair, say some. It is good to be reminded that celebrities are normal people with real problems, no matter how perfect they might seem to the outside world. Marriage can be extremely difficult, especially with the added pressure of media attention, demanding jobs and six kids. Hanging on to dreams of a fairy tale is unrealistic — and it will only lead to misery in the end.

How depressing, respond others. Surely it is natural to want to believe in strong, lasting love between two people? Of course we look to celebrities for reassurance that this is possible — they are in the public eye, and if they can make it work then there must be hope for the rest of us. Such hope is part of what makes us human. We will just have to hold on to Will and Jada Smith now...

You Decide

  1. Were you sad to hear about ‘BrexPitt’?
  2. Can celebrity culture teach us valuable lessons about our own lives?

Activities

  1. Write a short story about a modern romance, in the style of a fairy tale.
  2. Read the Psychology Today article in Become An Expert about why fairy tale romance often fails. Use this knowledge to write five pieces of advice for a more healthy relationship.

Some People Say...

“Marriage is pointless.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What a silly story. Aren’t there more important things happening?
Undoubtedly. Yesterday the Syrian ceasefire dissolved, 29 migrants drowned off the coast of Egypt, and protests continued over police shootings in America. But while serious world news is important, sometimes it is also important to reflect on more personal issues. Besides, relationships aren’t silly — they are one of the things that all of humanity has in common.
Why are Hollywood marriages so doomed?
There are lots of theories. Actors often have to spend a lot of time apart while they film movies. They are under a lot of pressure from the public. The private person might not match the public persona. And, according to Mitzi Gaynor in 1964, ‘you have to be a little off-centre to get into this business in the first place.’

Word Watch

Portmanteau
Combining two words to make one. Examples: Brexit, bromance, and brunch. Brangelina started the trend of inventing portmanteau couple names.
Ambassador
Jolie worked as a ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for the UN Refugee Agency for over a decade, before becoming a ‘Special Envoy’ in 2012. She has also hosted a summit in London to end warzone rape last year.
LGBT couples
Same-sex marriage was not legalised in all 50 American states until one year after the couple married, but they said it was the right time for their family.
Double mastectomy
An operation to remove both breasts. Jolie had found out that she had a high chance of developing breast cancer, and did not wish to take the risk. In 2015, she had her ovaries removed for the same reason.
1900
From statistics in the USA. In 2010, the profession with the highest divorce rate was ‘dancers and choreographers’. The broad category of ‘entertainers and performers, sports and related workers’ came in at twelfth.
Will and Jada Smith
The two actors married in 1997. Advice for staying together? ‘A lot of marriage counselling.’

Subjects

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