It seems that everyone loves a celebrity break-up, and the messier the better. But why are we so fascinated by celebrity relationships and taking sides? In this episode we’re going to be looking at the reactions to Alice Evans and Jennifer Aniston’s respective breakups and asking is there such a thing as the right kind of wronged woman?
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Speakers - Sarah & Lisa
Relationship breakups are hard at the best of times, even more so when a third person is involved. For public figures the unravelling of a marriage is often the time when the carefully created image, the fairytale story starts to slip.
And in response, people often take sides and have opinions on who handled the breakup better. But why are acrimonious splits so polarising? We're going to be looking at the reactions to Alice Evans and Jennifer Aniston's respective breakups and asking
Is there such a thing as the right kind of wronged woman? But before we jump into today's episode, a quick disclaimer,
we're not trying to work out who's telling the truth or not. And we're not trying to decide who's the good one and who's the bad one. We're here to look at how society frames breakup stories and how and why people react to them in certain ways.
We felt important to say this, as we know a lot of people have strong feelings about the stories that we're covering today. So Sarah, what is the story with Alice Evans? I vaguely remember her from 102 Dalmatians and being married to the young welsh guy who saved the survivors at the end of Titanic, Ioan Gruffudd?
Yes, you're right. They actually met on the 2000 set of 102 Dalmatians. And then they were married in 2007. But skip ahead, and in January 2021, Alice took to Twitter to announce the split, and she announced it with this tweet that said - “sad news, my beloved husband / soulmate of 20 years Ioan Gruffudd has announced he is to leave his family starting next week. Me and our young daughters are very confused and sad. We haven't been given a reason except that he no longer loves me. I'm so sorry.” And then since then, the drama has massively increased and unfolded with public interviews on Lorraine and Inside Edition. Did you actually see that, any of those interviews?
Yeah, I did, actually. And that's kind of where, you know, I first thought of, like I said, I remember seeing 102 Dalmatians and occasionally seeing pictures of her in like, in the magazines with Ioan. But I remember, like I said, her coming back into sort of the public eye a couple of years ago, and she was in this interview with Lorraine and I was, she was just absolutely devastated. It was just really raw, how she felt and she was so honest about how she felt she'd been betrayed. She sort of, like, he'd left her. And it all felt quite unusual. And I do remember her saying that she'd been on her own during the pandemic, with Ioan filming abroad or something. And she'd given up her career for the best part of 10 years. I think she saying something like she was losing her mind and been taking to Twitter. And I felt really sorry for her.
Yeah, so obviously, that was two years ago, and a lot has happened since then. And the Twitter rants have unfolded and accusations, followed by deleted accounts. And then in October 2021, Ioan Griffith went public with his new girlfriend, and he posted a photo I think it was on Instagram with the caption and said, “Thank you for making me smile again, at the girlfriend's name, complete with a love heart emoji.” And this triggered a whole outpouring of more emotion and accusations. And Evans, in response, accused him of cheating saying that that actually had precipitated the breakdown of the relationship, and that they'd actually secretly been in a relationship for maybe two or three years in Australia. And that's why, that was the cause of the breakup. So much more has happened since then, with, like we said lots of accusations, counter-accusations. A few of the other things that happened was in June 2022, Evans set up a GoFundMe campaign claiming that she had no money for food and bills and a divorce lawyer after having been served. And in December, 2022, Fruffudd was pleading poverty and he was begging the court to force the sale of their $2 million marital home, which I think is in Los Angeles. And he even claimed his acting work had dried up as a result of the fallout from the breakup, that he can't afford mortgage payments, and that he's relying on handouts from his girlfriend.
Okay, so what's the situation now?
Well, I suppose the biggest outcome of this whole story is that a year ago, Gruffudd took Evans to court and got a three year restraining order. It was granted in February 2022. And she's now a year later back in court having been accused of breaking it. And there are quite a lot of claims on the restraining order petition. And I think Lisa, you actually read some of that. Do you want to do you want to share them?
Yeah, absolutely. So he said Alice has used social media accounts to continue to harass, threaten and disturb the peace of both me and my girlfriend, Bianca Wallace. Alice repeatedly told me between August 2020 and our separation on January the first 2021, that if I left her, she would make false public accusations about me, sell false stories about me to the press and destroy me and my career. And she also threatened to tell people he had abused her and her daughters, and that she would call the police on him if he didn't comply with her demands. Yeah, these are very serious claims. I mean, what does Alice say to this?
So so she has a very different story. And she vehemently denies the claims. So she's saying that “this complaint was actually a ploy to gain some sort of advantage over me in our divorce proceedings”. So she has denied it, but the descending order was granted a year ago. And they're back in court. So we don't know how this is going to turn out at yet.
Amid all this what has been the online reaction?
I think what's quite interesting is this, this has played out over the last two years. And so the reaction has changed in that time. The reaction to her initial public speaking about the divorce was actually mixed already. And I think one of the comments that I most relate to, and it was on Mumsnet, and it was saying, “I don't know, there's three sides to every story, or at least five with the tabloid media involved. For all we know, the relationship might have been dead for years. And he's only just got together with this new woman. Or he could have been cheating for years. It's certainly got to put strain on a relationship when you spend months apart on different continents to each other, even if it is for work purposes. Not sure I fully believe that anything in the press or on Twitter for that matter. And I doubt it's good for any of those involved to keep having so much tabloid and social media coverage.”
Yeah, that's, I liked that comment. I think that's very fair and balanced. And I especially liked when they said there's at least five points when the tabloids are involved.
I mean, it's very difficult, because they already talk about, you know, when you say there's an accident, there's like, 20 people have witnessed an accident. They say if you get witness statements, you'll have 20 different accounts. So you've already got two people, and then all the media and then their version of things, and it gets very messy.
So can we ever really believe what we read?
Well, how long have we gone through this episode is a massive question. But I will say, you know, there's that classic quote, is there is nothing like a woman scorned. And, you know, with the access to social media, you know, so easy to go online and get it all out, I know, completely get it, you know, in my time, especially the early days of social media are used to go online and blast people and, and I think that actually is one of the things you know, working in social media for years is that you've got to practice what you preach. And it's like, there's a fine line where you cross over into making people uncomfortable. It might not be having the intended effect, you know, that Alice's intending to for sympathy. And then you know, documenting and sharing everything can make people start to think, okay, this is maybe too much. And there's a certain amount to be said, for being a bit more quiet, and future proofing yourself, you know, because you don't know what will come back to haunt you. But like I said, you know, in this era, you know, everyone loves to pour over these posts and unload them, like what we're doing. And then that, you know, they then end up on the man online, and then again, it's sort of like a cycle, you know, and then they have more comments, and the story gets more publicity. So I think there's, like I said, I was surprised when we started dipping into this, you know, and I knew about the story, like I said, with Lorraine, and I initially looked at this, I was surprised at the strong reactions to this.
Absolutely. And in fact, the comments, you know, going back to the beginning, do seem to fall into two main categories. There are people who want her to maintain a dignified silence, for example, “this is embarrassing. Now, please have some dignity and think about your children. And I speak as a woman whose husband left me for a friend.” And then there was the opposite reaction where you had people who were supporting the open sharing of emotions, and finding it refreshing, for example, “I actually love that she isn't pretending everything is fine. I hope being open about it all is cathartic. Too often men treat women badly, and it's swept under the carpet.” It's such an interesting dichotomy. And I guess it depends on what your goal is, is your goal to change the way people see you? Or is it literally just a cathartic process of getting it out? And we live in a therapy society now. So we're used to this sort of catharsis of speech. But what it essentially comes down to is this idea that there's a right way to comport yourself during a divorce or a breakup, that there's a right way to be the wronged woman. So even if you have been cheated on, how you react to it can very much define how much sympathy you get. And we're talking in general terms, not just specific to Alice Evans. But on the other side, there's something quite validating about seeing someone else struggle. It makes us feel, oh, other people are struggling too their lives aren't perfect, and it's okay for me to struggle as well. This story I do feel has, has kept them in the media in the last two years, much more than I had been aware of them in the last 10 or so years.
Part of me was like you're right like to see what I would call moderately famous film stars living in Los Angeles, children at private school, they seem outwardly like, very successful, it was quite a shock to sort of hear or see things all falling apart so publicly and also emitting their financial situation. In a way, it's kind of like, not that I want to say, want to see people struggle, but other people just say, Well, I'm famous, but I still have the same problems that maybe you have.
Absolutely. And I think what's quite interesting is often with breakups of this kind, like public breakups, you get a lot of stories where they say, either they've been planted by one side or the other, or there's a lot of, a source close to the couple have said, you know, it's a very much a backdoor speaking. But in this case, you've got someone speaking very directly to the public. And I think that's where Twitter and social media has changed the relationship that celebrities have with the public, they can speak directly in the moment, maybe regret it the next day and end up deleting it. But the problem is, someone's taken a screenshot, you can never really delete anything you put on the internet, especially if you're famous,
No, exactly. And I think there's quite a few TV shows that show the publicist, you know, following around their star and taking the phone off them. And then the stars got a backup phone to use because they don't want them blowing up their life on social media. You know,
Glass Onion, Glass Onion!
That happened there
Yeah, The backup phone was on the shoe,
Put the phone down and back away from the table.
Exactly. But you said there was a lot of sympathy for Alice at the beginning, including public figures. Was there anyone in particular you had in mind?
Yeah, that's what was so interesting. You also had a lot of, like you said, public figures wading in and supporting her, particularly, the fact that she was speaking out. There was a great article by Tessa Thompson, in the Telegraph from January 2020, talking about her own experience. And what she said was, “there's a deeply unfair and outdated narrative that discarded wives should keep quiet and make way for the newer model without comment for the sake of their dignity. But when your life has been completely upended, dignity is the least of your concerns. It's not the job of the spouse to make a partner whose left feel better, we don't owe it to them to get over it.”
I have to be honest, I really like that quote,
I really like it too. And I think that's one of the things, this concept of dignified silence. Dignity is something that is a word that's thrown around a lot in relation to these kinds of topics.
Absolutely. And I think you said you had another one with Vanessa Feltz. In her closer column, which can I just say, I read just yesterday that she said she's finally leaving her partner, because I think she's gone through hell and back, hasn't she?
Yeah, I mean, so this quote that we're talking about now was actually in relation to a previous marriage that we're going to, we're going to read out, but yeah, like you said, it's just come out, she left a partner of 16 years because of cheating again. So in her closer column in November 2021, she said, “it's a completely natural impulse to want to pour out your feelings and not want to feel alone. Yes, it may be dirty laundry, but it's hers. Why wouldn't she share it? And why shouldn't she? I think she has every right to share her heartbreak. I can relate to Alice, as I've had a marriage breakdown. Mine was because my husband had an affair.” So this is, I mean, we're putting this together. And then literally, this has just come out that this happened again with her new partner. So yeah, I mean, there were a lot of I think Ulrika Johnson even came out in support. All these, talking about how it's nice for women to be, well not nice, but it's, it's refreshing for women to be able to share their emotions publicly.
But then, obviously, something went wrong. I mean, it started to change in the public opinion, there started to be a U turn, would you say?
Yeah, well, well, like there were some people who didn't agree with her speaking out right from the beginning. But as it went on it, you know, we've now got a restraining order into the mix. Yeah, so that has changed within the two years. It's definitely got more complicated and, you know, we can't speak for the, for what went on behind the restraining order. We're not legal representatives, but that obviously, it has affected the reactions. So Lisa, do you want to read some of the comments from the Mail Online?
Yeah, absolutely. “So there comes a stage when you lose sympathy for her to be honest. This time last year, I felt sorry for her making an exhibition of herself and it was all desperately sad. By this day, she should have a go at sorting her issues out.” And then this is the second comment. “Marriage does not mean you own a person for life and therefore can make them as miserable as you please. He wants to divorce Alice, not his children, children and husbands are not property. The girls have a right to a relationship with their dad, and not to be made to feel terrified for loving him. Wise up Alice, move on, get work, and be a decent mother and a member of society.”
It's so interesting because it definitely brings up the idea of how people have a lot of discomfort for seeing emotions, like extremely raw emotions displayed publicly. But there's also an idea of that there's a length of time which grieving and behaving impulsively is allowed. So for example, we're allowed to have the messy feelings. You know, you know, I'll give you a week or two, we're crying over the breakup. But then after that, we don't want to hear it anymore. It's undignified. Are you making yourself just the victim?
And one of my favourite actors in the world? I think we both love and Richard E Grant, you know, his wife of 40 years, Joan passed away. And he's written a memoir, or a book about it. And I've heard him on various things, discussing it. And someone wrote yesterday, and it's only been a year and a half. And the comments said, “Is he still going on about this.” And I just thought, how can you sort of say, like you said, there's an acceptable timeframe for grieving a partner,
The fact that a lot of us also, you know, ended up going into therapy to talk about, say, trauma we've experienced 30 years ago, as a child, it's still haunting us, or it's still affecting our lives to expect something that you might experience as traumatic as an adult to be over with within a month is also, I think it's more about us not wanting to see it anymore, because it brings up uncomfortable feelings. However, we should point out that in this particular case, it's not just that element, there is also, once a restraining order comes into effect, it does make you question, who is the victim and whether there's been a weaponization of victimhood. And like we said at the beginning of the podcast, we're not really here to discuss who's done what, and whether it was right, we were giving this as a sort of background to the discussion on how people react to these kinds of situations.
I went on, and I was looking up Alice a while back. And there's these anti Alice groups on different forums, and they are very fiercely against her. They constantly talk about her being a narcissist, and calling out the abuse of Ioan. They talk in a language that I actually had to sort of get out the dictionary. I sort of know a little bit from watching Dr. Ramani’s videos on YouTube, who is a sort of specialist in narcissism. One of the things they say is do not engage with Alice or her FM's, which means flying monkeys, and they talk a lot about love bombing, and that she is gaslighting, and it's all about abuse. But like I said, it's very fierce. And they actually say, Look, if you're a flying monkey, if you're on the side of Alice, and they literally say you stay on your side of the internet, we do not want you here and that's how intense the feelings are for this group of people. And I know that you've done a lot more studying in psychology than I have. But maybe you can sort of elaborate a little bit on gaslighting, lovebombing, narcissism. What is all this about? Because like I said, I feel like there's a real trend about calling everyone narcissists.
It's slightly my pet peeve. And in this particular case, both sides have been accused of being narcissists. So on both sides. And that's what's really interesting is it seems to be everyone and their mother, their ex is a narcissist. And you see that a lot online, it's become like, de rigueur to to be able to use this phrase, but there's been lots of phrases like narcissism. It's difficult because they're starting to use words colloquially that are clinical language. So for example, narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder. People who are extremely obsessed with themselves, they don't take rejection well, and they also, they manipulate in order to get their needs met. And some of the things they do is they talk about love bombing. So that's when you initially meet, they will shower you with affection and attention. But as, once they know they've got you they'll back off. It's complicated, though. How do you differentiate between someone who's strategically love-bombing and then moving into an abusive pattern? And the fact that well, all relationships, there's always a greater intensity at the beginning. And then gaslighting comes from one of my favourite films, actually Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman. It's a brilliant film. So if you haven't seen it, please do watch it. Love me some classic films. But it's this idea of driving someone crazy by denying reality. So for example, if someone is cheating, it's not just about denial, you know, to cover yourself up, but you start going, you know, I think you're really like paranoid, you're just imagining things. You know, the classic thing is, I'll put her handbag in the fridge and convince her she's going crazy. It's difficult because these things do actually exist, right? That's why there's so much talk about them. But there's a very big difference between a full blown personality disorder and just unhealthy behaviours in relationships when someone acts selfishly.
And it's funny because I remember when I went to therapy years ago, I once asked if someone was a narcissist, and she said, I'm not here to diagnose people by proxy. And like I said, there is like, a cultural upswing in using all this language from the workplace to all these communities, you know, quick to judge other people and say, well, they've got all the traits of a narcissist, I know for sure.
I think it's very much about making things very black and white, there's a bad person and there's a good person in this relationship. And if they're the abuser, then that makes me the victim, that means I don't have any responsibility for their behaviour, even if the responsibility just comes in of, okay, are you protecting your own boundaries, allowing this behaviour? Yeah. And I think that's where it's also interesting. We want to label the person rather than the behaviour. Because if you think about things being on a spectrum, I'm sure every person has at some point in their life, or is at least capable of a narcissistic act, or a narcissistic behaviour, but to to be a full blown personality disorder is an entirely different thing. And it suggests that people can't ever change because if you label the person bad instead of the behaviour, then that's just them. Oh, you know, we've got to throw them out. Whereas if you go, was it just his behaviour and can it be changed?
Yeah. Like we said, you know, this has tended to a very binary just sort of discussion. There's the anti Alice groups, but there's also like, on her Instagram, a lot of women's supporting her, and they're really caring people. And they seem to really identify with her situation and seemingly being abandoned. And, you know, some of the things I've seen on her social media are “Alice, we all want revenge in this situation. Just remember, you have the girls, not him, focus on the positives.” And then a bit more lighthearted, but it felt like a girlfriend reaching out to her, “Alice, it's 1am, put the wine back in the fridge, put the phone down, and go to bed and get some sleep”. So I think what's interesting is a lot of people that aren't understand the mess she’s in, They get quite invested, like you could even move to the UK. Have you thought about doing this, you know, giving tips on how to do cameo and these other little ways she could monetize herself. So that's what's so interesting is this sort of polar group of people from the anti-Alice groups to this group that are actually like practically helping you on a day to day basis and checking in on her.
Yeah. AndI mean, I know we both looked at some of these threads, and like she really interacts with them quite strongly as well. It's like creating this virtual support system. And And these days, we do seem to be creating what people have quite intense relationships with people they've never actually physically met.
I’ve actually learnt a new term this week. It's called parasocial. It's basically when you have this idea of someone, being your friend who's an influencer. So it's this whole idea of like young girls growing up thinking that influencers are their friends, and YouTubers, and then that horrible reality when they meet them, because they're kind of breaking down that line between a friend and a public celebrity, if that makes sense.
Yeah. And also, I think there's an element for me of, and, and I, again, I don't want to judge anyone, but there's an element of people getting very involved in someone else's drama and possibly rescuing, but also it’s giving them permission to have messy feelings themselves. But as we've said, there's been a change in the reaction and for example, on Mumsnet, one of the comments says “I think the betrayed woman narrative is one that is just very compelling for some people, and so much more compelling than alcoholic abuser. But I am surprised how many, although still a small percentage, are willing to still wholesale believe Alice, even when she's faced with her restraining order.”
Yeah. And that makes me think of something because she's been angry. Oh, my goodness, she's been angry online. And it makes me think, like, how acceptable is it for women to be angry? And, you know, are we more likely as women to be labelled as crazy? You know, there's this article we found it's from S. Chemely, author of Rage Becomes Her: the power of women's anger. “When men get angry, their power grows, when women do it shrinks. In the Western world, anger in women has been widely associated with madness.”
Absolutely. And I think Alice herself has brought this up in her, in her reaction and in reaction to other people's reaction to her. There's one of her tweets. Do you want to read it?
Yeah. “Why does it make me look unstable? My tweets are perfectly clear. I'm angry. I've been lied to. I've been gaslit. My kids have been lied to. You think that makes me a bad mom asked my kids.”
It does seem to be often less acceptable for women to be publicly angry. We've even got the term hysteria that comes from the Greek word for uterus, meaning that all hysteria is about, well, they talked about a wandering womb. I don't know where this fucking womb is going. But apparently it's wandering around. That's why women become hysterical.
Oh, maybe it's going towards Pedro Pascal. I'm sorry. I'm obsessed with him
And then another book that, you know, I've heard of a lot, but I haven't actually read was Madwoman in the Attic. It was written in 1979. And it talks about how in literature, particularly the representation of women in historical literature, they had two options. They had the Pure Angel version, and then they had the Monster and the mad woman. Yeah, and that funnelling of women into two extremes if you're not perfect and pure and socially acceptable, then you're mad and you're crazy. And if you show any imperfect behaviour, like anger, like messy emotions, then yeah, you're crazy. And I think the other side of that though, which is really interesting, is that it does seem to be harder for people to believe that men can be victims of female abuse, because either if they're angry, they're crazy, or we just assumed that they couldn't possibly be the aggressor. So that's another, an alternative side of this sort of dichotomy that is put on to how we look at women. But then in contrast to that, we've we've had Ioan’s, he's recently given a response in relation to how public this whole breakup has been. And, and he said “it's the experience of having lived in the public eye from an early age, I was in the Welsh language soap opera from the age of 11. So people knew who I was in that community. You don't train for that scrutiny as an actor, but it's been part and parcel of what it is to be an actor. It's a contract.”
Yeah, he sounds very balanced, to be honest and understated.
And I think it serves to highlight the contrast between her reaction and his reaction even more. What's really interesting is in reaction to that people have seen it more as a manipulation. And it just shows how we can all have different perceptions of the same behaviour. But there's still a lot of people who do not buy his dignified silence. And there was a recent comment that said “he needs to stop setting up pap trolls and feeding the press information if she can't do the same. This man is awful. And yes, his ex is too. But he's no saint, he had an affair and left his family. He's just annoyed she didn't lie down and take it when she was replaced, like a good Hollywood first wife is supposed to”
But you can see in the comments, like you said, so many people are reading so much into their behaviours in such different ways. It's, it's incredible, really,
And they're so emotionally invested in this topic from on being on one side or the other, which is quite an interesting thing. Regardless of whoever's behaviour, you condone, or don't condone, or in fact, think just maybe both of them are flawed.
And I'm wondering if a lot of the rage is not just about losing Ioan’s love, but losing her career and financial security. I wonder if all this would have happened if she sort of lived here in Norway, where, you know, when you divorce, you automatically get equal custody, 5050 of the children are It's very much encouraged for men and women to stay in work. So very generous paternity and maternity cover here. It's not very normal for one person just to stay at home, in my experience. I wonder if a lot of this anger is the fact that Alice has lost out on her career?
Well, I think that's really interesting. And it's also I think, the fact that she's in the film industry is a whole nother layer as well, because maybe in another industry, she could take time off and come back and rebuild her career. But but the film industry is so biased against older women, that if you've, you know, now, at her age, it's going to be even harder. But I think so often, we're also encouraged as women, look, we are the ones that give physical birth. And this, this is a whole topic that we can't, you know, we don't have time to go into, but women are more encouraged to give up their lives for the family. And then if that family unit breaks down, they almost lose more than their partner, it's much harder to start again, it's much harder to date again, at an older age. And I think some, a lot of the anger that's coming out is based on that
Is Ioan Griffith, you know, responsible for the rest of his life financially for Alice Evans personally? I mean, you know, yes, for the children. But there is this sort of Victorian notion that maybe
that you're stuck for life, even, even if you're in an abusive relationship, and you've to continue to pay the bills, almost like you've made a vow. It's a very old school, sort of, I suppose Catholic approach to you're married for life, you may make your bed and now you lie in it. And then if you don't, it very much feels like, okay, well, who's the winner in the breakout? Who gets there happy ever after sooner, because it seems very competitive. And I think even if you're happy to end a relationship, it's going to hurt a bit to see that person with a new person, especially if it feels that there's a very specific contrast of someone who's now younger and prettier and et cetera, et cetera.
I mean, that's why you know, like I've been and I know we said we won't do too much on Shakira in this episode, but you know, she has been the big story the last couple of weeks with her sort of revenge song coming out. And you know, and saying that she's a Ferrari replaced by a Twingo, a Rolex replaced by a class. Yeah. I mean, let's be honest. I mean, I love Shakira, but there is something like if Shakira gets cheated on.. But the fact is, is that she has been very honest in some of her music videos. You see her literally with her heart being ripped out. And my goodness, you know, there's a whole industry around. I mean, some of the best songs in the world are about losing the person you love and just the absolute heartbreak that creates. So that's like one of the things I wanted to say while making this episode is that it's incredibly traumatic to go through a breakup let alone on such a it's such a you know, being scrutinised way
Yeah. One of the big ones, you know, we wanted to talk about was Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, because I think that was the story of our time, like, you know, pre social media, a few blogs about but it was just wall to wall on the magazine stands. You know, let's wind back, you know, it's nearly 20 years ago, 2005 to be more precise, you know, the whole world was talking about this story and the fact that they had split up. And then the rumour was confirmed that Brad had left Jen for Angelina Jolie. And then the media really ramped it up. You know, there was a story that he left her for the, you know, the narrative started, you know, he left her for the most beautiful woman in the world, Angelina Jolie, and they instantly had this huge, big, beautiful rainbow family, travelling the world, saving the world. And now she was, you know, alone and childless, and,
and having amazing sex, because I remember that one of the early stories being, we heard animal noises. This is when they first ,it had first come out, though they're gone on holiday somewhere in Africa. It was like it sounded like there was lions in the room. And you're like, Well, that's what you want to hear about when your husband and you have broken up is having incredible sex with the most beautiful woman in the world.
Literally, like, I mean, you're disturbing the nature in Africa. I mean, it's pretty epic. And then she was sort of alone and childless. And I think there was this huge fixation on her being the wronged woman, you know, versus the evil seductress Angelina. And, you know, Jen was very discreet at the time. You know, I think she needed a couple of interviews, and she gave some insights on to what had happened, you know, including when someone pointedly asked her and said, “How do you feel about the fact that Angelina said she fell in love with Brian on the set of Mr. And Mrs. Smith?” And she said,” Well, that's not cool.” Have you seen by the way, Mr. Mrs. Smith?
I've seen some of Mr. And Mrs. Smith, because I put it on in a in a hotel room, because it's one of the three, the one of the ones you could watch at but I was incredibly drunk after having come back from a club. And I fell off the bed. And I don't remember the rest of it.
So you didn't fall off the bed because of the sexual chemistry between them? Because it was off the scale. I have to be honest.
No, no, I fell off the bed because I was, I had had a lot of alcohol. Yeah,
Oh my gosh, Sarah, because I don't know, I feel a bit guilty of saying this. I fell in love. I think I fell in love a little bit with Angelina. And I fancied her but maybe a bit more than Brad actually, if I was being completely honest. She's so gorgeous. And I, you know, we loved her, well I loved her since seeing her and Gia. You know,
it's interesting for me, because I actually already had a huge crush on, a girl crush, from Gia and then, you know, Girl, Interrupted. I mean, she, I was, yeah, I had a big crush on her. Yeah. And actually this whole experience, which again, I don't really know, I'm not that involved. But it did affect how I viewed her going forward. And it actually had the opposite effect on me where I think it brings up that whole fear that a lot of women have of these women that we perceive as specifically they’re homewreckers, and they're going out of their way to specifically choose men who are married. Yeah, and they might come into your happy family and break it up. And you know, when you feel like could burglars break in at any time? Could someone like Angelina Jolie climb into my marriage bed and like steal my husband?
To be honest, if my husband left me, I mean, I don't have one. But if I had a partner who left me for Angelina Jolie, I'd be like, I mean, fair dues.
The bar was pretty high.
But it's interesting how we, we we funnel our anger towards the woman and I'm not condoning it. I think it's something about the like, you know, the code of sisterhood of you're deliberately screwing over another woman, but it's so interesting how we often forget, oh, wait, hang on, she's not the one who was in a relationship. She wasn't technically cheating. It was the guy.
But then a lot of people brought up the fact that she, I think done it before were Laura Dern and Billy Bob Thornton.
I think I read that, Laura Dern was quoted as saying, “I went off to a film set and when I came back, my living partner had married Angelina Jolie” and that's going to be a bit of a fucking shock.
Yeah, exactly. And so, like I said, you know, Jennifer Aniston said that he was missing a sensitivity chip, which, by the way, I loved a news many times in my life.
Yeah, it's a great phrase.
Yeah. And I think with the poor Jen story, the message seems to be - a woman only has worth if either she is loved by a man or given birth.
Yeah, it was really interesting because that whole poor Jen trope really came out from then onwards, and we're talking, what, nearly 20 years ago and it still sort of going. I mean, she got she had multiple relationships, but she even got married and divorced since then. And it's still, if anything, it's fueled that idea of, oh, she can't hold a man and she, she can't have a baby. And she's all alone. And, you know, and she's this girl next door, and she'll never be as quite as sexy as, and, and that's why she can't keep them. And I mean, it's dogged her, I think ever since. And she's, I'm sure she's come out and said, you know, it must be very tiring to have a breakup from 20 years ago, be basically one of the biggest defining things that anyone associates with you.
And even recently, you know, when I say recently, you know, I think it's two years ago, and 2020, she was at some film awards. And as his photo of Brad Pitt, sort of holding Jen's hand, she's sort of looking at in the other way. And, you know, it's sort of it broke the internet, but people talked about it a lot. So I jumped onto Twitter to see what people have to say. And they said, “wow, people are so ridiculous, trying to stir the pot. They spent years together and work in the same industry. And Brad Pitt is a cheating narcissist. Leave poor Jen alone, making her moment of recognition for our hard work all about her ex husband. How pitiful.”
Yeah, you know, what I think as well is this people are very invested in the soulmate concept. Yeah. And this idea that it was really all Angelina Jolie's fault, she came in and stole him away. And he was too stupid to know. So this idea that men are, don't have this capacity to make choice, you know, that they, I was gonna say something really crude, but I was gonna say, you know, if they're confronted by a beautiful woman, they're unable to make a sensible choice by themselves, they’re just powerless. You know, it's, he couldn't help himself. So it's really her fault. And now that she's out of the way, true love can be reunited. And and I think, you know, where I think some of this comes from is the whole Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. Yeah, the fact that they got divorced and remarried several times. This idea that, you know, he can make it work. And I think people can get very invested in celebrity couples that they, particularly if they saw them as the perfect couple, if I was going to do that for anyone, which, you know, I don't know them, and I'm not that invested. But if I was going to, it would have been Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton. I think I just really like..
We’re gonna mention them in every episode, because we just love them
In every episode. But for me, when they split up that that was the one where I was like, Oh, shame. They were the ones I was going to do, and i think some people had the same thing with Susan Sarandon and Tim, Tim Robbins. They were like, oh, gosh, we really thought you were gonna go the whole way. At the same time, none of our business. I mean, we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. I know people can end relationships, and actually, it's the best thing they've ever done. So we we have this real attachment to a breakup is the worst thing that can possibly happen to you. But there's still a lot of love and sympathy for Jennifer Aniston. And why do you think she gets so much sympathy in this role compared to maybe other women?
Well, actually, I was thinking about it. And I was thinking, Do you think it's something to do with the fact that that she has been so discreet, like, she's been very dignified silence. And so people lot read a lot into things, and she just kept on going with her life. And, you know, she's been really, really super successful, and she looks really happy and well, but she even came out recently, didn't she in an interview and said that actually, all those years, people speculated about me and didn't know that I was actually struggling with fertility issues. And you know, people just like it was complete entertainment for them, to sort of speculate on her, why she wasn't having children and why she couldn't keep Brad. But I think one of the initial things that happened when this all came out, like I said, the media really ramped up this sort of rivalry between sort of Team Jolie and team Jan or team Aniston. Yeah. And the guy who made these T shirts, we found this quote, that said, “the thing with Jen is that she was in people's living rooms for 10 years, people felt like they were one of her friends, whereas Angelina wasn't in our living rooms. Team Aniston more identifies with the girl next door, who has been screwed over by her man.” And then fun fact the team, Aniston t shirts sold 25 times more than 10. Surely. So it was really a popularity contest between the two of them. But also, like you said that people automatically assume that Angelina, it was all her fault.
Definitely. And that's what's so interesting. Do you remember that sort of Brandy and Monica song - the The boy is mine. And it was like, based on sort of Jerry Springer, where you'd see these women fighting over a man and you're thinking you're fighting over a cheater. I don't understand. Like, he's some kind of prize. And you know what I mean? You're like, uh, no, you can keep him. Yeah, I think I'd rather, yeah, I mean, fighting over Brad Pitt versus some of the people on Jerry Springer. Some of the time I'm like, I don't understand, but you know, when people are obsessed and in love, it feels devastating to lose that person. And also, there's a level of cognitive dissonance where if you have to accept that this partner has done the betraying, and that there may be, they have a big amount of accountability in it, that's going to be more painful than blaming an outside source. Because if you can get rid of the outside source, you can re-protect that relationship and put it back together and just ignore it. And it's back to this dichotomy of women again, there's a good versus the bad woman, there's a victim versus a femme fatale. And the focus is often on the woman and the role that she's playing. I personally think. So often the problem with cheating is, you know, their accusations when the person doesn't accept them. They say, oh, no, no, no. But people often want to address if the woman being cheated on deserved it or not. Yeah. And I think one of the people that that's happened to is Amber Rose. I don't know, are you familiar with Amber Rose?
Yeah, she previously dated Kanye West. I remember her, and she's been in a lot of videos. And she's got a very striking sort of blonde shaved head.
Yeah. And I think ex stripper as well. You know, she she has that vibe. And people have, you know, she's has got Kardashian look quite skimpy clothes. But her second, the father of her second child, Alexander Edwards, a couple of years ago, she went on to Twitter to say she was done because he's he's cheated on her with 12 women, and she's done now. And, you know, it's like, well, is 12 the number you know, my that I might have been done a bit earlier. But, you know, no judgement. But what was interesting was, she said she was cheated on him by 12 women. He actually then put up his hand, which is quite unusual, and said, you know what, I did cheat on her. It's so uncool. I really love her. And I'm really sorry, I've hurt her. But it's just my nature. I don't want to have to pretend I'm, I'm someone I'm not. And I just like women, you know, whatever. And a really weird twist from that is that he's now possibly engaged to Cher.
What, how did they meet?
I wouldn't have predicted that. Okay. I mean, I've no idea but but but the way people reacted when this came out, was instead of going, okay, she's the mother of his child, and he's cheated on her. They were like, it's not men, it's you look at who you choose to date. “You have said that she chose losers. And now she wants sympathy”, and very much like, and people going even further calling out well, if you dress like a horse, if you act like a horse, then you're going to be treated like a whore. And it's like, in this case, it wasn't even, a he cheated on? No, I didn't. She's making it up. There wasn't a disagreement. They completely agreed that he cheated. And yet she was somehow the bad guy, because she's not a typical, virginal, good mother. You know, and that was such an interesting thing to see.
Yeah, and that victim shaming is something that you see a lot, like you said, in sort of cases where, you know, you get sexual assault. And, you know, even recently, we I don't think we're going to cover this in a future episode, about Pamela Anderson about her sex tape, and that, you know, when she tried to defend herself in court and get the videotape taken down, they kind of said, well, look, why are you caring about the sex tape? You've been doing this for years, you know, for 10 years, you've been doing soft porn, and Playboy and doing these videos, etc, and whatnot, but it was just quite difficult to watch her go through that and see how exhausting it was to sort of say, well, actually, I still care about people watching my honeymoon video with my private life, put over everywhere.
I mean, we've gone through a lot of comments, and we've covered the stories, we've tried to look more at the reaction than the actual, you know, we're not here to come up with an answer. What’s clear from all the comments is that we really do get involved in celebrity breakups, I mean, really involved. But why, why is this why why are we so attached to these?
Lisa 43:58Wwell, I think that to be honest, it's a lot. It comes from schadenfrede, I think, you know, seeing these beautiful people with perfect lives, and you're seeing them struggling dealing with a breakup, you start to see, like we said earlier that you see the cracks in the kind of image, the story they put, they're out in the public. And you're thinking, Well, you know, if these beautiful people can suffer, then, you know, maybe it sort of says something about my own suffering is sort of like, it's normal, what I'm going through sort of sort of empathising in a way, and it's a sort of, like universal experience, we end up you know, projecting our own experiences as the victim or on the one that left. And, you know, I'm thinking of my own experience. You know, I listened a lot when I had breakups. I listened to Mariah Carey songs, you know, and a lot of Toni Braxton, you know, um, break my heart. I think we really, through music and film, we can often live that experience again, or identify with that experience and work through our feelings and think well, actually, Alice Evans is falling apart publicly, well, okay, maybe I'm not doing such a bad job. Or maybe I'm going more than her, you know, there is something about benchmarking yourself,
Or even looking and saying, I might not have an amazing life, and I might not be a celebrity and look like that, but I'd never behave like she did, because, and that makes me better somehow that makes me more, you know,
Exactly. So I think there's, for me a lot to do with the, like I said, the universal experience of, of knowing that we're not alone in going through one of the most heart wrenching experiences you can go through because it just really gets to the core of who we are as humans. I mean, for you what do you think's going on here?
I mean, I think those are really good points. I think with the drama cycle, it's very much about being either the victim, the persecutor, or the rescuer. And, in fact, being very attached to that particular role, so much so that you're getting certain psychological needs met, so that even if a victim does start out as having been victimised, as time goes on, if someone tries to help them out of that, they will reject any home, possibly, subconsciously, they might not even be aware of that, because they're getting a certain need met. There's also a huge thing about it, just distracting us from our own lives. If we can get involved in other people's lives, the more distracting the better, the more crazy, the better, we don't have to think about our own problems do are we going to be able to pay our bills, and we can, you know, and I think that plays a big role. And it just becomes entertainment, like a living soap opera. And we see these people so publicly that we think we really know them. So we get very attached to one side or the other.
So now we've gone through a lot of comments, I hopefully we're given a good sort of overview of the conversations going on out there. And so I suppose the last question we have to answer is it true that there is a right kind of wronged woman?
Well, I think celebrity breakups seem to bring out the voyeur in all of us. And we're fascinated in them for the drama, and the relatability because almost all of us at some point has been through a breakup ourselves or we've experienced some type of rejection. Rejection in any form is painful, and it somehow makes us feel better knowing that even the most beautiful people in the world living perceived charmed lives, they can experience this too. But because of its relatability, we so often project our own experiences and biases onto the story. Maybe we relate to the jilted lover role or to the lover who can't escape a scorned ex who refuses to move on. Gender roles definitely come into play here, and we decide that there is a right way to be wronged, especially as a woman. However, we can never really know what goes on behind the drawn curtains of a complex relationship. But abuse of any form from either party can never be condoned. The difficulty is differentiating between expressions of real hurt, and the weaponization of victimhood. Perhaps all we can ever say with any certainty, is that we hope all involved are able to heal and eventually move on from the situation, however long it takes. The sad reality is that for many, this can take a very long time.
That was really beautiful. And I really liked the line you said the difficulty is differentiating between expressions of real heart and the weaponization of victimhood. I think you nailed it there and you know, and not without trying to sound too trivial, but leaving on a lighter note, you could also say that next time someone breaks up with you, you could just post some cryptic quotes through ecstasy and Instagram and leave millions of strangers to analyse it all. Until next time.
Thank you to our lovely producer Emily. If you enjoy today's episode, please don't forget to leave a review and subscribe. It really does help us in reaching more people.
Also, you can follow us on Instagram at straight to the comments podcast. Our handle is @st2cpodcast, and join us next week where we'll be diving headfirst straight to the comments. See you there. This podcast has been produced by Emily Crosby medi