Did you hear the news yesterday? That Jennifer Aniston is engaged? To Justin Theroux? I did and I could. not. believe. it. Here we are, in the year 2012, and people still give a fuck about Jennifer Aniston.
I know what you’re thinking: How mean to pick on Jennifer after what Brangelina did to her. But c’mon, that was like seven years ago, and that is what people—famous people and unfamous people—do. I can kind of understand rejoicing that she’s finally found happiness, but what I find confounding is that people still care so much. And the reason I wonder is this: What has Ms. Aniston done to justify this continued fascination?
I admit it. I don’t get, and have never gotten, the Jennifer Aniston thing. I’m not “into” her the way dudes are into starlets. And I can’t think of a performance of hers that’s moved me. A few months back, the March issue of GQ arrived in my mail slot, and I was sort of befuddled when there she was on the cover with Paul Rudd. I guess I was surprised that Aniston was still seen as someone who moves issues off of newsstands. (Though I suppose that just proves I’ve not been spending much time at newsstands.)
I made a point of not watching Friends, and I remember working at Tower Books on South Street when the Rolling Stone where you could see her butt (but not her face because of that freaking haircut) hit the stands and the world went completely completely apeshit. And I remember thinking: Why her? Why her and not, say, Courteney Cox? Her looks notwithstanding, what was special about her? Her post-Friends IMDB filmography is a slop-pit of rom-com treacle, the kind of riskless fare about which comedian Patton Oswalt mused on his 2011 album Finest Hour:
“Every romantic comedy should just be called Trying to Fuck. This week Jennifer Aniston and this guy are gonna try to fuck. Next week, Jennifer Aniston and another guy are gonna try to fuck. Will they fuck? Probably. From the writer of Neh and the director of Nehhh comes Nehhhhhhhhhhh.”
As an actress, as a cultural touchstone, her choices have been sort of uninteresting. Can you name a particularly challenging role she’s played? Can you remember, without swooping over to IMDB, the name of a character she’s played, other than Rachel (cuz duh) and Polly (because it was in the title of the movie). Rarely do her portrayals veer from the realm of common human experience (which would explain the dearth of serious hardware in her trophy case). I guess that is the secret to her success. When your movies have grossed $1 billion, and Forbes estimates your wealth in nine figures, you don’t need to push the envelope. Hell, maybe when your movies have grossed $1 billion, you’re no longer a star, you’re an industry, and pushing the envelope costs people jobs. I guess pushing the envelope was never part of the equation. But shouldn’t we expect more from the artists we idolize?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m guessing Ms. Aniston is a perfectly nice person and an obviously shrewd businesswoman (I don’t go in for the straight-up Aniston hate). She’s certainly used her massive fame to help some good causes. When it comes to her and Mr. Theroux, I can’t think of a better, more perfectly polymerized couple. I wish her and Justin Theroux nothing but eternal, hermit-esque happiness—may they enjoy it with the same air of secrecy with which they’ve conducted the first 18 months of their relationship.