Why the Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck 2021 reunion matters - Los Angeles Times
|Los Angeles Times 12 May 2021 at 19:20|
There were undoubtedly elements of bigotry and chauvinism to much of the original Bennifer backlash — especially to the idea that Lopez was a controlling, spoiled “diva” and a compulsive man-eater. So what if both she and Affleck came from close-knit, middle-class families who knew what it was like to struggle financially? Lopez liked designer clothes and expensive candles and had once — gasp! — dated a rapper, and was thus too flashy and risqué for a nice boy from Boston.
As Diane Sawyer put it in a 2002 report on “Primetime Live,” Lopez was “the racy, impetuous pop star with that flashy ex-boyfriend,” while Affleck was “the brainy guy” and “towering actor who romanced an uptown goddess.” (Never mind that “uptown goddess” Gwyneth Paltrow was not exactly known for being low-key either.)
A Times story from 2004 examined Affleck’s career slump and the particular animosity generated by his relationship with Lopez. Kevin Smith suggested that the backlash “probably had to do with a handsome white guy and a Latino girl. ’She lends him street cred and he lends her class’ — people would literally write that.’”
Meanwhile, Affleck was portrayed as an emasculated cheeseball who had been blinded by Lopez’s physical allure — buying her a 6-carat pink diamond engagement ring from Harry Winston, trading in his Red Sox T-shirts for camelhair coats and generally being her designer Ken doll. GQ called him the “world’s most overexposed actor,” mocked him for his fake tan (“You showed up at the ‘Gigli’ premiere looking like an overcooked Oompa-Loompa”) and suggested he dump Lopez in favor of “a woman who won’t make you run out to the corner store for a Lamborghini.” (“We have a couple of very nice editorial assistants here who’d be more than happy with a few cranberry vodkas and a ticket to the Shins,” read the piece.)
Bennifer 2.0 is not only a chance for Affleck and Lopez to rekindle a once-promising romance as older (and hopefully wiser) people, then. It’s also a chance for the rest of us to just let them be happy.
There is something undeniably captivating about couples who come back to each other, particularly in showbiz — think Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, to whom Bennifer have been compared — and while it is unlikely that we have become less cynical about celebrity romance over the last 17 years, it’s possible that we’ve become fonder of Affleck and Lopez in particular, more forgiving of their very human shortcomings and more sensitive to the private struggles of people no matter their bank balance.
Lopez is now celebrated as Hollywood’s most glamorous workhorse, a fiercely disciplined star who channeled her singular charisma into a should-have-been-nominated performance in “Hustlers” and a .