You've seen the picture, maybe even set it as your new desktop wallpaper: Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston backstage at Monday's Screen Actors Guild awards, hand in hand as they congratulate each other on their wins.
Fifteen years on from their awkward split, the viral pictures have the world's romantic cogs turning. All of a sudden we're all Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap, trying to get our divorced parents back together.
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston reunited at Monday’s 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.Credit:Getty Images
Online fantasists and media opportunists alike have jumped on the unlikely reunion. "A Body Language Expert Says Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston Have Unfinished Business", went a headline from Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine ("That's a grip that says, 'Stay here with me'," the expert offered).
"Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's Evening Did Not End at the SAG Awards", declared Refinery 29, insinuating the pair got blasted and made out on some dancefloor to Mr Brightside (in truth, they were just at the same Netflix party).
The attention's understandable; it's like a fairytale ending. For 15 years the pair have endured their own nutty tabloid gauntlets to get to this moment: Aniston through an unceasing “Poor Jen” narrative that gets resurrected every time a guy looks at her, while Pitt faced allegations of alcoholism and physical abuse that emerged during a prolonged custody battle following his 2016 split from Angelina Jolie. Like each new Rocky release, Monday's reunion offers nostalgia, closure and hope all at once.
This one feels a bit cheap though, like Rocky IV. Generally I'm all for warm-hearted reconciliation – lessons learnt, mistakes acknowledged, the past reckoned with from a wiser, mellower vantage. In this case: nah.
Pitt, for one, has been leaning into the circus perhaps a bit too comfortably. During this pre-Oscars run he used his acceptance speeches to oddly address tabloid innuendo over his messy private life, roasting himself as a lovelorn loser.
"Let's be honest, it was a difficult part," he said at the SAG awards of his winning role as Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. "A guy who gets high, takes his shirt off, and doesn't get on with his wife … It was a big stretch." The cameras cut to a hefty Tom Hanks laugh. Tom Hanks, you disappoint me.
That same night, like the penultimate scene from La La Land, a video went viral of Pitt fixed in front of a backstage TV screen watching Aniston accept her own acting award for The Morning Show – seemingly oblivious to the bustle and cameras around him. Enthusiastic fans have projected their fantasies all over the clip, but all I can see is a convenient play by the actor to redeem his reputation.
Which brings me to my main beef with the internet's reunion-ers: did you forget Pitt (you know, allegedly) cheated on Aniston? Pretty badly. In front of the whole world. "Hollywood's saddest star reignites romance with guy that dumped her for another actress 15 years ago." That's the worst plot to a romantic comedy I've ever heard. Not even Liam Hemsworth would star in that one.
Aniston and Pitt in 2004.Credit:Reuters
The New York Post published a bizarre article this week from "inside" Angelina Jolie's head, speculating on her "thoughts" about the viral photos. After more than a decade of dealing with the fallout from Pitt's extramarital antics, those embarrassing #TeamAniston and #TeamJolie T-shirts, the shameless manipulation of two stars' public personas into the "girl next door-turned-lonely spinster" versus the "sultry, man-eating, husband-stealer", do we really want to do this whole thing again?
I know Hollywood is all about reboots but this is ridiculous. Aniston should obviously be hooking up with David Schwimmer.
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