Last month the earth stopped spinning on its axis, the sun forgot to rise and the seas dried up – Hollywood’s Adam and Eve were no more, Brangelina was a wrap. The media blew up with speculation and scoop-searching that gained more momentum than a myriad of other arguably more notable events. Frustration over unequal media coverage is an age-old issue and a tough one to crack, however, the split of the power couple revealed more truths about the media than its obsession with celebrity culture. For not unlike the Heard-Depp fiasco, last month’s episode of Hollywood’s Divorce Diaries shed light on how the media and society blame successful women for their marital breakdown.
In Angelina’s case, the story fed right into the hands of this recurring narrative for it was she who filed for divorce, thus ending the Golden Age of Brangelinadom. Instantaneously, poor, miserable, heartbroken Brad was suddenly the victim of the cold-hearted, merciless Angie who obviously felt zero emotion when she initiated divorce proceedings. How dare she do that to Brad? To her children? To the world?
In fact, what many people seem to have forgotten is that Angelina is a woman living in the 21st century and not the Middle Ages, meaning she has the actual right to dissolve her marriage for whatever reason she may choose.
Okay, okay we get it now. Women have the right to divorce their husbands. You win. But now she’s asking for full physical custody of her children? Ripping their family apart and taking them away from their kind and caring father whom we are certain is always kind and caring based on paparazzi photos? What a psychotic woman. Inhale. Exhale.
When reports come out that the FBI are investigating an incident of child abuse, the anti-Angie wave gathered steam. This is the irony of the media. Brad Pitt is being investigated for how he treats his children and his wife is the manipulative villain, knee-deep in a plot to snatch the six kids for herself. Now call me crazy, but a master plan involving willfully becoming a single mother of six, no matter what your worth, does not seem the most obvious conclusion to me in this kind of scenario.
And no matter if Brad is innocent and Angelina is a child-snatcher, the point is that the media have his back, but they don’t have hers.
A couple of months ago another Hollywood megastar was divorced by his actress wife for allegations of domestic violence. The woman who initiated the divorce faced huge media backlash. Backlash for divorcing her husband who abused and beat her. Backlash. It doesn’t matter that his name was Johnny Depp and it doesn’t matter that her career was on the rise. Amber Heard was forced to release photographic evidence of his crimes, and pressured into donating her seven million dollar settlement to charity all because the media got it wrong. Usually when a newspaper prints something that untrue a formal apology follows, but this kind of speculative reportage that incriminates implicitly, not explicitly, is a handy tool and causes far greater damage. She paid for it.
The trend can be looked at in two ways: 1) the media believe that women (no matter how successful) who marry powerful men do so to exploit them and attack their assets, and 2) the media believe that men are extremely susceptible to manipulation and can be easily extorted through a façade of love. The beauty of this trend is that it favours no one. Of course women are particularly slated, but it doesn’t spell out wonders for male intelligence either.
The media, with its excessive coverage of celebrity news, keeps shooting itself in the foot with its reporting. In a roundabout way, it makes these stories socially significant, but not in the way that it hopes. The less coverage we give it, the better.
-By Aisling Bonner