Why Stars Like Brangelina Get Scandal-Blasted, While Others Get Off Scott Free
By Stephanie DuBois
Oh Fickle Finger of Fandom!
A curiously wise - or is that wisely curious - Celebrities Channel reader named Anna sent in a question, wondering why stars such as Julia Roberts and Katie Couric were so easily forgiven by fans for publicly dating partners not yet divorced, while Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been crucified for their own pursuit of happiness.
Jolie's many humanitarian endeavors and the couple's adoption of interracial children has been reduced - in the public's eyes - to mere publicity ploys to divert attention away from the already-oh-so-tiresome Hollywood Bermuda Triangle that is Jennifer Aniston/Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie. Aniston has declared over and over again, she's ready to move on, but her fans just don't seem ready to put away the tar and feathers.
True, we've come light years away from Hollywood's less than halcyon days of the Hayes Code, moral censorship and public censure - back when Ingrid Bergman's career was ruined because of her affair with then-married director Roberto Rosellini. But even then, it was obvious that while Bergman and other stars were held to strict account for their actions, others got off lightly by comparison. In the late 50s, Eddie Fisher left America's darling, Debbie Reynolds, for Elizabeth Taylor, who in turn, left him for Richard Burton. While all those adulterous shenanigans wreaked havoc in their personal lives, they did not permanently derail their individual careers.
When Carol Burnett's late husband, producer Joe Hamilton, left a wife and eight children to be with her, America's favorite comedian suffered a little backlash sure. However, the multi-Emmy-winning "Carol Burnett Show," which Hamilton produced, stayed on the air till 1978.
Yet, when America's end of the millennium sweetheart, Meg Ryan, chose an unrepentant bad-boy Aussie like Russell Crowe to turn to before her divorce from Dennis Quaid, you'd have thought she cheated on every star and stripe in the American flag.
Again, we ask why?
Well, it all seems to come down to one word: perception.
Ingrid Bergman: Foreign beauty = Homewrecker. Unforgivable.
Carol Burnett: Girl Next Door = Couldn't help falling in love with the wrong guy. Forgivable.
Angelina Jolie: Exotic Looking, Hot and Freaky = Every man's fantasy and every wife's worst nightmare. Unforgivable.
Katie Couric: Girl Next Door and Smart = Probably just fell in love with the wrong guy. Forgivable.
Julia Roberts: Girl Next Door and Hot and Wild = Every man's dream and every wife's worst nightmare. But, OMG, she is the girl next door and look at that smile! Forgivable.
Meg Ryan: Girl Next Door and America's Sweeheart = How dare she fall in love with the wrong guy. Unforgivable, no possibility for pardon.
Really, the capriciousness of the populace knows no bounds and any attempt at categorizing or coming up with a definitive answer as to why we forgive some celebs and not others just raises more questions.
The Donald - as in Trump - was still married to Ivana when he hooked up with his now second ex-wife Marla Maples back in the early 90s. In fact, her messy confrontation with Maples on the ski slopes of Aspen where the Trump family was on holiday is the stuff of tabloid legend now. And his cheatin' ways led to a very messy, very public divorce with him denying her contributions to the empire he built. How come that didn't make him The Donald--as in Chump?
The public still hasn't forgiven one-time adored football hero O.J. Simpson for getting away - as some believe - with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman, a verdict that caused outrage, indignation and even rioting in some places. But where was the commensurate fury, tears and outcry when one-time adored actor Robert Blake got away - as some believe - with murdering the mother of his child? Would anyone still be talking about how O.J. got away with it, had Nicole Simpson been black? Hmmm.
And, one has to admit it was pretty scandalous when Britney Spears' then boyfriend Kevin Federline left his girlfriend, Shar Jackson, while she was pregnant with their second child in 2004. Romance led to marriage, and Britney's life with Federline became a reality show.
So does that basically mean that we vilify you only if you don't let us watch? Note to Brad and Angelina: Consider a reality show to get the public off your back. America likes its celebs to break out, break up and break down in plain sight.
Oh, and let's not forget R. Kelly. The R&B singer's penchant for pretty young things has landed him not just in the tabloids but in court on more than one occasion. After his infamous sex tape - allegedly showing Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old --surfaced in 2002, his album "The Best of Both Worlds" with Jay-Z tanked. However, as time went on, neither underage sex partners nor pending legal woes seemed to make a lasting deleterious impact on Kelly's career. His 2003 "Chocolate Factory" release went multiplatinum and he cheekily began referring to himself as 'The Pied Piper of R&B.' His latest album, "TP.3 Reloaded" debuted at the top of the charts and was hailed as a brilliant comeback by music critics.
On the other hand, Janet Jackson seems to be having a tough time recovering from the backlash of Nipplegate, her wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl a couple of years back. Her "Damita Jo" album, released in the wake of Nipplegate, failed miserably and Jackson has reportedly packed on some 40-50 pounds since then.
Speaking of Nipplegate and the double standards celebrities are held to by fans, Justin Timberlake managed to walk away from his part in Jackson's nipple unveiling completely unscathed.
Whoever said life is fair? Certainly no one in the entertainment world.