OFF THE GRID

What's Wrong With Jennifer Aniston?

Sep 10, 09 | 8:08 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Every week she gets dumped again by some new guy and blabs about it all over the magazines.

This has turned her into the biggest star in the nation (I may not be current with my ‘biggest’ numbers, but she’s up there).

What is the attraction of this patheticness?

Is America a nation of dumped and unrequited women? Is the common experience the failed relationship? The recalcitrant man? Yes, obviously.

Still, it’s an unexpected message: Life is a disappointment, the chances for happiness recede, nobody is getting any younger. The girl next door is now revealed to be an existential character. The saccharine is bitter.

And this is big box office: Marketers and philosophers pay attention.

Curiously, she is not, unlike so many, a celebrity who people wish a pox upon. People seem to wish Jen well. You’d think that after so many failures and letdowns and glum magazine interviews, people would begin to turn away. And it doesn’t even seem to be the case that people (well, women) are yet urging her on, believing in the next time. Quite the opposite. The subtext is that this is never going to happen for her.

But there is, yet, a certain sort of nobility about the way she carries herself. Her carriage is unaffected. This may be part of what’s compelling. It’s the reality show aspect: When will she crumble?

By keeping up appearances, she is quite heroic. Every other star, by her age, has had several blissful pregnancies (and adoptions). Surrounded by all those yummy mommies, Jen still maintains her equipoise.

Life is poise.


(AP Photo)
 
Even her latest interview in Harper’s Bazaar, while full of nauseating and strained relationship advice—"Say what you need. Say what you want. That way it's not threatening. You just need to say, 'This is important to me'"—suggests that this is someone whose lessons come from sifting through failure.

Of course, too, she is a star—canny enough and tough enough to turn her failures into success. One advantage of her aloneness: She’s a throwback to the old studio system where actresses stayed ingénues much longer because their pregnancies were hidden and the kids invisible.

The moms are aging, Jen isn’t.

She’s the star for the arrested development generation.

Soon she'll move back home with mom and dad.

Life stinks. But she shoulders it well.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com.
You can also follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewserColumns.

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