The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Golden Couple
Jennifer Aniston thinks its fun to howl at the moon with her friends. And Brad Pitt loves Survivor. They announced their engagement onstage at a Sting concert, and then the band played “Fill Her Up”—don’t worry, the “her” in this scenario is a car. There were imported brown sugar candles at their wedding, and during the vows Jen promised to always make Brad his favorite banana milkshake. For her thirty-second birthday, Brad planned a bowling bash, presenting Jen with the extravagant gifts of a sweatshirt, scented candle, and photo album. And the second guesthouse of their second home contained beanbag chairs. All of these things are really important, and I am so glad that I know them.
Yet, there was something rewarding about reading Brad & Jen. Despite the hardcore fluff of useless gossip, I truly feel so informed. Realistically this information would prove advantageous only at a very specific type of trivia night or if it was still 2005. But Brangelina did just break up, so maybe I read this at exactly the right time.
(Why did Brad and Jen’s couple name never become Bennifer you may ask? Well, that’s because the illustrious title of Bennifer belonged to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez circa 2002. Yes, they did date, and he gave her a $3.5 million pink diamond engagement ring only to split up two years later.)
Written like a 202-page tabloid—218 if you count the 16-page photo insert—this book was filled with quotes by onlookers, eyewitnesses, secret sources, and one too many Oprah interviews. It required almost no thought while reading, and with the occasional misspelling and quite frequent repetition of content, this book dove into some of publishing’s uncharted territories. But I guess that’s what happens when two US Weekly magazine reporters attempt to write a book in five days.
Its largest blunder though was when the couple’s breakup, aka “the split heard ’round the world,” was compared to the beginning of America’s Revolutionary War. Or maybe it was when it was likened to the day that will live in infamy—the real day being that of the attack on Pearl Harbor that ushered the United States into World War II. Or even better yet, when this quote happened: “Between the tsunami devastation, serious flooding on the West Coast, the historic Palestinian elections, and the war in Iraq, there was no shortage of headlines on January 10, 2004. Still, no journalist could turn away from the biggest celebrity break-up of the century.” The icing on the cake just might be that Brad and Jen broke up in 2005, not 2004.
So what in the end brought the golden couple to their eventual demise? One idea, presented in the chapter titled “Celebrity Coupling: Can It Ever Work?,” is that no, it cannot. But maybe they were doomed from the beginning, Jen living her life in luxury and Brad taking on the role of the Beverly Hillbilly. In reality, Brad wanted a family, while Jen seemed to only be interested in growing her career. We all know it was Angelina Jolie who did it, though.
(Did you know that at her first wedding, instead of a dress, Angelina wore a white T-shirt on which her husband-to-be’s name was written in her own blood? And then, when she moved on to Billy Bob Thorton, she kept a vial of his blood hung around her neck? She’s one chilling sorceress queen, that’s for sure.)
There is one mystery that the book leaves unsolved. On page 190, a new paragraph starts, “Days after the 189 was announced . . .” What is the 189? I have spent at least two hours scouring the Internet to no avail for an answer. Here’s what I have found: In 1527, 189 Papal Swiss Guards valiantly fought thousands of Spanish mercenaries, but naturally they were all but destroyed. The power-metal band Sabaton used the number in its song “The Last Stand,” commemorating the fight of the Swiss Guard. 189 is often the mistaken numerical mark on a commonly prescribed yellow anti-depressant pill. If you flip the pill right side up, the correct numbers of 681 can be read. 189 is a subclass of an Australian visa representing the skilled independent. As the numbers appear on page 190, 189 might also be a reference to the previous page. Or it is just a random number and meaningless typo.
Despite slight feelings of shame, I am glad I read this book. And considering the grand total of four Amazon reviews, three of which dote the book with only one star because they had to in order to write the review, I think I may be its only real reviewer. I honestly found it relaxing—it’s the type of book you should read in the bathtub. And full disclosure, after I finished, I spent at least an hour on Google Images rifling through pictures of the golden couple, Jen’s hairstyles, and Brad’s past girlfriends.
Reinstein, Mara, and Joey Bartolomeo. Brad & Jen: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Golden Couple. New York, NY: Wenner Books, 2005.