Pop Rocks: Jennifer Aniston's Engagement Is The Event Horizon Of Celebrity Gossip

This is the end, beautiful friend...the end.
This is the end, beautiful friend...the end.

The title of this USA Today article made me laugh...and then it made me think.

Has Jennifer Aniston finally found her happy ending?

For an American sweetheart who has it all -- looks, talent, fame, fortune -- Jennifer Aniston has not been lucky in love, so her engagement to actor Justin Theroux could be what her fans have long wanted for her: A happy ending.

Or that's the hope.

"She's a very popular girl, not just among her fans but in Hollywood," says PR veteran Howard Bragman, vice chair of Reputation.com. "She's had her share of missteps relationship-wise, as have we all. Justin is a really talented guy, and people don't know what a big deal he is in Hollywood as a screenwriter (as well as actor). I think this is going to be great for both of them."

Note to self: never ever under any circumstance check my own name on "Reputation.com."

I get two things out of this. One; the only indication there may be something to this beyond a concerted effort by the gossip mag industry to see if they can break their own record on wedding-themed covers (recently set by the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton) is that it's lasted past the release of their movie (Wanderlust). Two: Aniston getting hitched is what amounts to a quantum spacetime boundary event, in which future celebrity gossip phenomena will no longer have an effect on us. It's science, people.

So, according to USA Today, the paper that helped turn almost every other metro daily in this country into a Hyatt Hotels kids' menu, Aniston's fans have really been pining for their tarnished queen to find true love, because she's apparently more deserving than they - or anybody else - are.

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I've struggled mightily to give a shit throughout the now 14-year media obsession with Aniston's romantic proclivities. Fine, your husband dumped you. But he dumped you for Angelina Jolie. I mean, I'd be devastated if my wife finally came to her senses and left me for another dude, but I'd probably find my depression assuaged somewhat if she ran off with, say, Hugh Jackman.

The intervening years have been hit-and-miss, sure, but even a disinterested observer forced into commenting on this because of a stupid deadline like myself could see most of the guys linked with Aniston weren't what you'd call poster boys for long-term stability. Vince Vaughan? Gerard Butler? John Mayer? These are the kind of fellows who only get married in their 50s, and only then because they've gotten too fat/bald/obsolete to keep getting anonymously laid on a regular basis.

For the opposite: see George Clooney.

But the more I forced myself to think about it, the more intrigued I became. True, that was because I initially mistook Aniston's fiance for the travel writer. This Theroux is an actor (Mulholland Drive, Miami Vice) and screenwriter (Tropic Thunder, Rock of Ages), who seems to be doing well enough on his own that he wouldn't need to avail himself of Aniston's modest coattails. But whatever, the more important aspect of the engagement is how it's the end of an era.

To be sure, the gossip rags will continue to leech magazine sales and page views from Aniston's nuptials, [potential] kids, marital woes, and maybe divorce (that possibility is the only thing that really throws a wrench in my theory), but by closing the circle on Rachel's failed romances, we've reached a milestone in the era of celebrity gawkery.

Who else stands to fill the gossip gap left by Aniston finding true love (again)? Kim Kardashian? Perhaps in the short term, but that's more of a 'slowing down past the car crash' thing. The public sympathizes with girl-next-door Aniston -- as savvy a media manipulator as we've seen in generations, don't forget -- yet slavers at the next inevitable Kardashian family fuck-up.

The same can be said for the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes affair. Folks sympathize with Katie, to a point (just wait until a 12-year old Suri comes home with her nose pierced) but if anything are beyond KimK levels of schadenfreude with regard to the increasingly unsympathetic Scientologist.

Now if Tom and Kim hooked up....no, that's two Horsemen of the Apocalypse right there.

Brad and Angelina? They did what anybody who's seriously fed up with paparazzi and the like do: they left the country. Expat status automatically lowers your celeb scandal profile by a factor of 2.8 (hush...science).

Justin Bieber? His lifeclock is already blinking. Next.

If RPatz and KStew (did I just type that? Somebody cut my hands off) had lasted, we might have a contender, but those crazy kids couldn't even make it through the premiere of their next movie. Jennifer Aniston laughs at your naïveté.

Celebrate this end to an epoch, my friends. A happily married Aniston is anathema to a healthy gossip industry, meaning you're all about to become much more intimately acquainted with Coco-T and Connor Cruise.

Or maybe this is my belated punishment for that time in grad school I berated a group of students in my Media and Foreign Policy class for talking about the previous night's episode of Friends. To be fair, I was wicked hungover.


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