Tag Archives: celebrity culture

Breaking Down The Breakup Between Anna Faris And Chris Pratt

The life of a celebrity compared to the life of a non-celebrity couldn’t be more different without involving aliens, unicorns, and pet monkeys. That’s also a major reason why we’re so fascinated by celebrity culture. Say what you will about the crazy headlines of the glorified toilet paper known as tabloids. They still get our attention and, as I’ve pointed out before, that’s the most valuable currency in our economy.

As such, a high-profile celebrity couple breaking up is a big deal. From a celebrity culture and deranged tabloid perspective, it’s like crack mixed with meth mixed with heroin. It’s as addictive as it is debilitating. It crushes whatever fairy tale narrative we had playing out in our collective psyches and making us question whether love is truly real.

Now, I don’t doubt the allure of celebrity romances. These are people with a lot money and power at their fingertips. These are people who could ask a random stranger to smear pudding on their chest and have a hungry loin lick it up and they’ll do it with a smile.

They have every conceivable resource to make their relationships the sort of thing that Disney movies are built on. How is it that they keep failing? That’s not just a perception thing either. In terms of raw numbers, celebrity marriages fail at nearly twice the rate of non-celebrity marriages. With all that money and power, how is that even possible?

Well, last week we were reminded that no matter how many fairy tales fever dreams a celebrity romance may inspire, it can still fail. The latest involves Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, one of Hollywood’s highest profile celebrity couples. After an eight-year marriage, they’ve announced that they’re legally separating.

Even I admit, this one caught me by surprise. I’ve been a fan of Chris Pratt since his day as the chubby dork, Andy Dwyer, on “Parks and Recreation.” I’ve also had a soft spot for Anna Faris since her colorful performance in the horror spoof, “Scary Movie.” The fact that those two got together and stayed married for nearly a decade was just a nice bonus.

However, much like the end of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the high-profile nature of the marriage always made it subject to scrutiny. Most recently, there had been rumors that Pratt had cheated on Faris with Jennifer Lawrence, his co-star in their movie, “Passengers.”

I tend not to give much weight to such rumors, even when Jennifer Lawrence is involved. That hasn’t stopped some people from blaming Ms. Lawrence for the breakup, but that’s to be expected. Brad Pitt had been subject to similar rumors before his breakup with Angelina Jolie.

In general, it’s fairly safe to assume that, unless there’s high-definition sex tape, those rumors are only partially true at most. Since nobody other than Pratt and Faris know the full story behind their breakup, I’m not going to assume that cheating or infidelity was involved. According to Pratt’s own statement, the breakup was mutual.

“Anna and I are sad to announce we are legally separating. We tried hard for a long time, and we’re really disappointed. Our son has two parents who love him very much and for his sake we want to keep this situation as private as possible moving forward.”

For now, I’m going to take Mr. Pratt at is word, but assume there were other dynamics at work that neither he nor Faris care to share with an unforgiving public. I’m not even going to speculate on what those dynamics can be. Instead, I’m going to step back and look at the bigger picture here. If nothing else, I’d like to give think fans of both Pratt and Faris, as well as fans of any celebrity couple, a sense of perspective.

Much of that perspective boils down to one inescapable truth. Celebrities live crazy lives, work crazy jobs, and deal with crazy stresses that no ordinary person can hope to understand, let alone deal with. The fact that any celebrity romance succeeds in the long run is nothing short of a miracle.

These are not people with normal or even semi-normal experiences. These are people doing things few people can do, achieving success that most people never achieve, and struggling to manage it all without going insane. So whenever a celebrity does have a very public breakdown, of sorts, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone.

On top of that, celebrities often work jobs that keep them busy for insane hours and requires them to spend a good chunk of their time traveling. Even if they have their own private jet and a support staff who effectively manages every minor detail of their lives, right down to the brand of toilet paper they buy, they’re still always busy. In a sense, being a celebrity is as close to a full-time job as anyone can have.

How can you make a relationship work in those circumstances? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s an ongoing issue that many celebrities struggle to solve. Pratt and Faris thought they had the answer. I’m sure Pitt and Jolie felt the same way. In the end, they were wrong. It’s tragic, but it shows just how hard it is to answer that question.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. Some celebrity couples find a way to make it work. They are, however, the exceptions and not the norms. Realistically speaking, the circumstances of a celebrity romance are a checklist of how not to structure a relationship. For the sake of context, here are just some of them.

  • Working extended periods in a high-stress, fast-paced environment
  • Managing large numbers of people and resources
  • Traveling frequently and having little time to spend at home or with loved ones
  • Doing physically demanding, often exhausting work
  • Being surrounded by extremely attractive people with a strong incentive to seduce others
  • Being subject to constant scrutiny and micromanaging
  • Constantly entering unfamiliar situations and dealing with unfamiliar people
  • Occasionally having to get naked and/or intimate with strangers

Just dealing with a few of these issues is stressful enough on any relationship. That’s why occupations like bartender, massage therapist, or police officer have a markedly high divorce rate. With celebrities, though, the challenges are even greater because it’s not just one or two issues. It all of them.

At the end of the day, no matter what Tom Cruise may think, we’re all human. We all have human brains that are stuck with caveman settings. Those brains aren’t equipped to deal with the rigors of a celebrity life. Hell, it’s barely equipped to handle our current ideals of romance.

Chris Pratt and Anna Faris had the odds stacked against them from the beginning. They clearly loved each other. They made that abundantly clear in their announcement. However, their brains have the same limits as ours. Those brains compel us to form the kinds of intimate, close connections that are easily strained by stressful jobs, constant travel, and an excess of beautiful people willing to sleep with you.

Most relationships, in general, struggle to function in those conditions, as evidenced by the non-celebrity divorce rate. Pratt and Faris tried to beat those odds, on top of all the forces working against them, and did a lot better than most. Just ask anyone Taylor Swift ever dated.

At the end of the day, though, the mechanics of a celebrity romance are just too daunting, even for those who genuinely love each other. It’s part of why people root for celebrity romances . The idea that two people can overcome those daunting obstacles nourishes our ideals about love and marriage. When that fails, it hits those ideals pretty hard, as evidenced by the Twitter reaction to the Pratt/Faris breakup.

While it is disappointing, especially for a relationship that seemed more healthy than most, it still shouldn’t be surprising. We, the non-celebrities of the world, can’t forget that people like Chris Pratt and Anna Faris live such crazy lives that are wholly unconducive to our romantic ideals.

Some of that is our fault. Some of that is the fault of biology with the way our brains are wired. Even so, it shouldn’t destroy our concept of love. If nothing else, it should remind us that making a relationship work is hard, but the fact that celebrities try as hard as they do is proof that the work is worth it.

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Celebrities, Loneliness, And The Price Of Fame

We all love to dream about it. We all love to build an elaborate fantasy in our minds. It’s right up there with our fantasies involving Channing Tatum, Kate Hudson, and a pool full of premium lube. It’s that tantalizing idea that we, despite our unremarkable physical traits, limited talents, and lack of opportunities, could be a celebrity.

It’s not an unreasonable fantasy to entertain. Celebrities are constantly showing off how awesome their lives are. They live in big, opulent mansions. They have more money than most of us could ever spend in a lifetime. They’re surrounded by servants and assistants who cater to their every whim,  be it a sandwich or a threesome with a couple of Swedish bikini models.

Whether they’re a movie star, a TV star, or a rock star, we all envy their extraordinary lives. That’s why it’s always so shocking and confusing when we hear that a famous, accomplished celebrity has taken their own life. It’s a tragedy and one that evokes an outpouring of mourning.

It was just hard to imagine someone as beloved and cherished as Robin Williams taking his own life. Just recently, it was hard to imagine someone like Chester Bennington from Linkin Park doing the same. These men achieved a level of success that even other celebrities envy. Why would they make such a terrible decision to end their lives?

It’s a question that we find ourselves asking way too often. Celebrities have been taking their own lives with alarming frequency in the 21st century. Some, like Kurt Cobain and John Belushi, had well-documented issues with substance abuse. Some, like Corey Haim or Freddie Prinze, saw their fame and fortune fall over time.

Whatever the circumstances, the shock still resonates. The question still remains. Why would someone who achieved something so few achieve choose to end their lives? Some of these people came from poor, impoverished backgrounds. Why would they end it after achieving the kind of success that most only dream of?

These are impossible questions to answer because we can never know what goes on in someone’s mind when they decide to take their own lives. We can speculate, but we can never truly know. I certainly won’t claim to know what was going on inside Chester Bennington’s mind. That would be wrong, especially as his family, friends, and fans mourn him.

However, even if we can’t know, there is one way to gain some insight into this tragedy. It requires another thought experiment, albeit one of the more uncomfortable variety. Considering how uncomfortable some of these experiments have gotten, that’s saying something. Even so, I think it’s an important insight to have, especially when you’re trying to make sense of celebrity culture.

Picture, for a moment, that you wake up in an alternate universe of the world you know. Everything is the same, from the shape of the planet to the laws of physics to the annoying video ads you see before YouTube videos. The main difference is that in this world, you have none of the friends or family that you know and love.

Instead, you’re in a world surrounded by total strangers. Most act nice. Some even try to be your friend. However, you don’t know for sure whether you can trust them. These people and this world may seem familiar, but it might as well be totally alien, complete with little green men and anal probes.

Then, throw in another huge complication. Imagine you’re rich and famous. Everybody wants a piece of you. Everybody envies what you have. People you don’t know and never would’ve known in your old life just throw themselves at you. They want to be with you physically, emotionally, and often sexually, as is often the case with rock stars. They even claim to love you with all their heart, sometimes excessively.

Therein lies the problem, though. How can you be sure they actually love you? How can you even trust them when they make such bold proclamations? You’re rich and famous. They’re not. You have a lot. They don’t. They also don’t know you on a truly intimate level. They know the image of you, be it in the movies or on a stage, but they don’t know the kind of person you are when the cameras go off and the lights fade.

Maybe these people want some of your money. That does happen, especially with women looking to hook up with athletes and rock stars. Maybe these people want a piece of your fame. That’s where you get some of the crazy fans who will throw themselves at their celebrity crushes in a frenzy. Maybe they really just want to have sex with you because they get a huge thrill out of having sex with famous people.

There are way more possibilities I can list, but at the end of the day, you can never know for sure. You can never truly trust someone who claims to love you. You can’t even just walk down the street, make some new friends, and build new bonds from there. You’re a celebrity.

Your entire life is overly scrutinized. People only know the character that is you, but not you on a truly intimate level. It means that, even among those who claim to be your friends, you end up feeling alone. Add on top of that the everyday stresses of being a celebrity and your caveman brains will start to strain.

Image result for stress of loneliness

Could you really function with that kind of mentality? Could you live the rest of your life not being able to trust anyone around you? Could you handle being in a world where nobody truly knows the real you?

Many think they can. Why else would there be lines around the block to participate in the next American Idol rip-off? I don’t doubt these people are sincere, but I doubt they’ve actually thought about the implications of celebrity life. I doubt anyone does, even if they were born into it.

There is a price for fame and fortune. It’s downright Faustian in its cost. Sure, you might be able to live in luxury, your every whim and desired pampered to at every hour of the day. However, you’ll still be isolated and alone. You’ll be stuck in a world where you can never be sure of who to trust. You can never know whether someone actually cares about you or the celebrity version of you.

Image result for alone in a crowd

That kind of loneliness and isolation can be pretty debilitating. It’s also completely incompatible with the default settings of our caveman brains. We are very social creatures. We crave connection and bonding. I’m not just talking about the sexy kind either. Take that away from us and it really screws us up. That’s why solitary confinement is rightly considered torture.

When you feel things like that, you naturally want them to go away. This isn’t a headache, a broken bone, or chipped tooth, though. This is a very different kind of pain, one for which you can’t fix with a band aid and an aspirin. That’s why many celebrities will turn to drugs and vices.

I’m not just talking about heroin, cocaine, and orgies either. Some celebrities will go so far to alleviate that isolation that they’ll effectively cut ties with reality and try to live in their own fantasy world. We saw that happen with Michael Jackson. We’re seeing that with celebrities like Tom Cruise, who uses a sci-fi cult religion that’s famous for legal extortion to deal with these feelings.

At the end of the day, no matter how successful or glamorous they may be, celebrities are still human. They’re still wired like our caveman ancestors, even if they believe weird things. If they struggle to meet these very basic human needs, then it’s going to cause problems and some of them will end in tragedy.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to manage. There are plenty of celebrities who do an excellent job handling the fame, fortune, and attention. Celebrities like Hugh Jackman, George Clooney, Jennifer Anniston, Bruce Springstein, and even Weird Al Yanckovic regularly show that it is possible to survive that lonely world.

While these celebrities show it is possible for some to function, it doesn’t make the tragedies of those like Chester Bennington any less painful. It also wrongly convinces many that they can handle that world too. Nobody aspires to be a celebrity if they aren’t convinced they can’t handle it.

The hard truth is, though, that precious few people can pay the price that comes with fame and fortune. Fame and fortune may make for an eventful life, but it doesn’t make us any less human. It doesn’t make loneliness and isolation any less debilitating.

Chester Bennington, Robin Williams, and countless others struggled with that loneliness. They endured that struggle on top of whatever personal pain they also carried with them. No amount of fame and fortune can make that struggle less agonizing. For some, it’s just too much.

It’s a feeling that few outside the celebrity world can understand. When everyone wants a piece of you and everyone wants to tell you what you think you want to hear, there’s no way to know for sure who you can trust. In the end, it leaves even the most talented and gifted among us feeling lost. In a sense, that only doubles the tragedy when a celebrity takes their own life.

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Thoughts on the End of Brangelina

I’m not a fan of celebrity culture. I never got the appeal of tying my identity so closely to a public figure that I get emotionally attached to the course of their life. That can be dangerous. There are too many Mel Gibsons, Charlie Sheens, and Gary Buseys in this world. You’re basically putting a big target on your identity and giving a squad of snipers a loaded bazooka.

That’s why if I’m going to tie my identity to anyone, it’s going to be a fictional character, such as superheroes in comics. As anyone who has followed this blog knows, I’m a big fan of superheroes and often use them to make important points about romance and pop culture. At least with fictional characters, they can’t be caught fucking the babysitter outside a bad porn parody.

All that said, I’m inclined to comment on the recent news surrounding the divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I know. I can sense your eyes rolling and your heads banging against the wall. This is not why you come to this blog. You come here to be entertained and updated by the twisted thoughts of an aspiring romance/erotica writer. Then again, it’s not like a lot of people come to this blog anyways so I don’t think it makes a difference.

I don’t know if it’s a cosmic coincidence or lousy timing on my part, but this monumental celebrity split happened in the same week where I’ve been discussing/ranting on our collective failings when it comes to divorce and commitment. It’s kind of spooky that I bring this topic up and then a famous couple splits. Maybe that means I should bet more money in my fantasy football pool this weekend or maybe my timing just sucks that much.

Whatever the case, let’s get this over with. Let’s talk about this latest celebrity heartbreak that we all knew as Brangelina. What happened? They were so in love. Their story was like a movie in and of itself. They meet on the set of Mr. and Ms. Smith, hit it off, and fall so madly in love that it causes Brad Pitt to leave Jennifer Anniston, who looks like this.

There had to be a hell of a love to draw them together like that. It had to be a pretty powerful love for them to stay together for over a decade, having children and even adopting a few along the way. Were they the typical Hollywood couple? Hell no, but then again there’s no such thing as a “typical couple” in Hollywood. That’s a flawed concept, sort of like “well-adjusted former child star.”

Every relationship is different. Every relationship has its quirks and proclivities. As I pointed out in an earlier post, every relationship has expectations as well and most of the time, these expectations aren’t reasonable to say the least.

Men want to be married to multiple supermodels who spend their days making sandwiches. Woman want to be married to a rich prince who spends his days massaging their feet and carrying her bags while she’s shopping with his credit card. These are the laughable expectations that we’ve all been fed by movies, TV, and bad love songs for decades. The difference with a couple like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is that in their world, these expectations aren’t that ridiculous.

When you look at the details, Brad and Angelina had a lot more going for them than most celebrity couples. They were both very successful in their own right. Angelina Jolie has an Oscar. Brad Pitt is one of the most bankable movie stars in all of Hollywood. They each found success in their own way and their success was not dependent on one another. They were very much equals, which is rare in a place like Hollywood, so much so that you have to look to X-men comics for examples.

On paper, these two had everything they needed to make it work. If one of them hadn’t been successful, then that would’ve created some unhealthy dynamics to say the least. Speaking in terms of history and economics, when someone is overly dependent on someone else, it tends to leave a bit too much room for abuse and neglect. That’s just a sad fact of human nature.

When we’re among those we consider subordinates, we don’t treat them as equals. It’s not necessarily evil. It’s kind of a holdover from our evolutionary past. Remember, humans are evolved from predators. Predators, like wolves and bears, have to see their prey as subordinate. It makes them easier to hunt. Since our brains are so poorly wired by the blunt instrument that is nature, we tend to do a bad job of differentiating between survival and romance. Not saying Mother Nature is incompetent, but she can be pretty crude.

Since this wasn’t the case with Brad and Angelina, this must mean other forces were at work. Plenty of news outlets and gossip sites are speculating what those forces are. It may be infidelity. It may be drug use. It may upheavals in their careers. Who knows? I’m not going to speculate. I’m not going to contribute to that shit storm. If Brad and Angelina want to get a divorce, they can and it’s none of our god-damn business.

With this in mind, I’m going to say something that’s probably going to offend a certain crowd of people, especially those who got emotionally attached to their romance. Put the pitchforks down. Unclench your fists. I feel like this has to be said so here goes.

It’s perfectly fine for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to divorce because they can manage it better than you or I ever will. As such, they do not deserve sympathy.

Am I assuming more than I should about the intricacies of their personal lives? Maybe I am. I don’t deny that. However, I think there’s a point to be made by this split and it ties right into my arguments about our flawed approach to marriage and commitment.

It’s because that Brad and Angelina are a relationship of equals, as I described earlier, that they’re able to deal with this in a much better way than most. This isn’t a case of Tiger Woods’ ex-wife asking for $750 million. These are two people who don’t need to gouge one another for money.

They’re both rich and successful on their own terms. The only issue they need to resolve is custody of their six kids, which can be emotionally frustrating, but not nearly as much when money is involved.

Make no mistake. Keeping money out of the equation makes anything easier, especially divorce. Remove the money and you just have two people trying to find a way to move out of the same house and agree on the assets. That just involves legally binding negotiations, which is something people have been doing for centuries. We don’t need to subvert our evolutionary wiring to make that work.

I understand that there are still those upset by this split. I understand I’ve probably made a few enemies by commenting on this issue. That’s the chance you take when you share your thoughts on the internet and I gladly take that chance.

It’s impossible to know for sure what drove Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to divorce. Citing the laughably obscure legal term, “irreconcilable differences,” leaves many blanks for our perverse imaginations to fill in. Our imaginations rarely line up with reality because our imaginations rarely stay tied to the real world.

The only assumption I feel comfortable making about this relationship is that, as is so often the case, they went into this relationship with expectations. Despite all the money and resources they had, they were disappointed when those expectations weren’t met. Once they realized that they couldn’t be met, they ended it. Sometimes the best we can hope for us that, within a relationship of equals, the end is beneficial for both sides.

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