Phony Couples Attack: Part Two
posted by Paul on 7/03/02
It's extremely difficult for a relationship to endure in the cutthroat world of Hollywood. Not only are celebrities under constant and often sickening scrutiny, most are inherently weak by design. Whenever I read about the latest tantrum, breakdown or bust-up it only confirms the long-held view that relationships and a successful career in the industry rarely go hand-in-hand. Indeed, dubitable exceptions aside, it's difficult to think of one successful, faithful, or functional Hollywood coupling.
If you reason it logistically, there is scant chance that any relationship could work within such a hostile, competitive environment. Could you imagine trying to be the head-turning center-of-attention, forging/maintaining a manfactured identity then having to share that with someone else? Balancing the act is nearly impossible and the mask always drops. Maybe you could or think you could accomplish it, which means you're a) not a celebrity, or b) someone who believes everything celebrity PR machines spit about "finding the right person" (in an attempt to humanize these lying egomaniacs). Celebrities, basically insecure people who only entered the profession to improve their self-esteem only to see the tactic backfire, are a different breed. They look out for number one - themselves - and would do almost anything to stay on top, and try everything to bolster their career opportunities. Relationships are baggage, albeit baggage they can use to their own advantage.
Is someone questioning your sexuality? Quick! Hook up with that fame-hungry actress before the truth "comes out"! It's beneficial for both parties and it'll make the Yentas happy. Are you dogged by those rumors of your philandering? Get the trophy wife, polish up your smile and call the paparazzi! Are those rumors of your poor relationship track record getting you down? Start "dating" someone who'll blow your sunshine up the media ass. Strangely, all these unions tend to be reported whenever a hot movie's about to debut. Hollywood and PR wet dreams soak the same dollar-draped bed.
For some bizarre reason, Hollywood stars believe that their unconventional lifestyles and genuine sexual leanings should always be masked. The public seems to pride wistful heterosexual romance above playboy posturing and same-sex debauchery. It's that natural inclination to deify Hollywood's elite which perpetuates this facade, because most celebrities are essentially unhappy, unbearable people. It's that driven, self-hating personality which makes them want to be famous. If they were in it solely for the art, they could do local theater shows or small-town gigs. That "look at me" exposure is why people still apply to reality shows like "Big Brother". That need to be loved, watched and accepted clouds the reality that their tortured self-image will dip even further once people criticize and over-analyze their every move. The common public, desperate for guidance and hope, often obsess over celebrity relationships because they want to see happiness. They want to believe in the idealistic fairytale that Hollywood has concocted. They want Julia Roberts to find her "Mr Right". They want Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston to last forever. In Rom-Coms, Hollywood creates the fiction. In reality, few of its stars are ever truly capable of finding love or enjoying a healthy relationship. The main love in Hollywood is self-love
Primarily, the industry relies on survival of the fittest and necessitates a single-mindedness and self-determination that eliminates the role of a partner. Hollywood is a machine; to master it, you need to work on your own. To have any chance of a successful future, you have to create a persona and stick with it - regardless of how foreign to your genuine nature said persona may be. Only those who stay ahead of the game have any chance of mastering it. That said, once these relationships and quick-fix solutions for poor box office and dwindling public image have served their (limited and questionable) usefulness, the divas and egos move on to a new subject. In Hollywood, more so than a humdrum suburban existence, nothing lasts forever. It barely lasts five months. With this in mind, let's take a gander at some phony Hollywood couplings. They're richer and more pampered than us, but hell, they can't make a relationship last!
Jennifer Lopez and Cris Judd
Why they got together: Fresh from her "street", high-drama relationship with P.Diddy, Lopez's reputation as a (albeit self-righteous, posturing and ubiquitous) performer was on the line. The sweet and innocent facade was over and the rumors stemming from the Diddy fling placed Lopez in a diva, gangsta Moll light - moreover, it made her look foolish. That wasn't good for business, being that Lopez's movie roles typically consist of playing regular women who turn feisty or Mexican inbreds who sleep with Nick Nolte. She wanted someone regular, someone who didn't have big teeth and someone who could help her tone down the trashy image she had stupidly concocted. Enter Cris Judd, a dance choreographer who was as mild-mannered as Diddy was brash. He wasn't famous and unlike with Puffy, Lopez was the dominant member in the relationship - the money-maker and ego master. The marriage to Judd suggested Lopez might have feelings for a cause greater than shaking her jiggly ass or wearing skimpy outfits at award ceremonies. For a while, it looked like love. In reality, he was just a pawn to defuse a bomb of bad publicity and seedy gossip.
Past Form: Like most celebrities, Lopez finds herself inexplicably linked with any male celebrity with whom she's photographed. It doesn't really help that she seems to be the sort of person who'd sell her Mother for continued fame and seizes upon publicity opportunities like Elijah Wood seizes upon naked male ass. Right back to the time when she was a background dancer on a substandard comedy show, Lopez has had a reputation as a diva who'd sleep with anyone to further her career - Jaime Foxx said that a more appropriate nickname would be "J-Ho". Ho Ho Ho! There's no doubt that the affair P.Diddy affair was the real deal, controversy-laden and laced with bitter after-effects. Take for granted that she's been propositioned by Russell Crowe. Well, duh. Lopez's track record isn't good and her single mindedness and outright desperation to be taken seriously as an artist has compromised both her principles and her already questionable integrity.
Future Form: Lopez will continue getting "comfort" from any swoon who's gullible enough to advance her career. She's like a Mexican STD, clinging to the genitals of powerful men. Her love doesn't cost a thing, because her soul has been long since sold. For Judd, he'll make some cash on the talk show circuit and is likely to score big with a tell-all book of living with an out-of-control diva.
Why the relationship didn't work: It's debatable whether this was even a proper relationship, in the sense that a partnership wasn't really at work. The media, often unfair in their criticisms, portrayed Cris Judd as a bit player in J-Lo's big love project. He had the misfortune of marrying not just a power-hungry diva, but a human-form brand extension.
Lopez's biggest mistake, besides falling for any flunkie that could rap, was in thinking she was talented enough to create a dual identity or excel at two crafts - something even David Hasselhoff has failed to do! She not only seems to believe her own hype, she created it. Instead of accepting good movie roles like "Out Of Sight" and slowly getting herself known as a competent actress, she created the hideous J-Lo persona, an invention as gaudy as it is laughable. As such, her stock has fallen. Her subsequent movies are indistinguishable and flaccid; ironically, her music is trashy, unimportant and yawningly self-indulgent. There's only so many times you can listen to a Latino women singing about all her money and not wanting you for your money e.t.c. Sure, she may be a household name, but so is "rat poison", and you wouldn't want that forced down your throat either.
Ultimately, it was probably her desire to not be another "Judd" that led to conflict. Hey, in conventional marriages, the bride adopts the groom's surname. Jennifer Judd doesn't create that scary "street" effect, and would confuse us into thinking the Judds had a pushy Hispanic sibling. What then would happen to J-Lo and its merchandising tie-ins? J-Ju? That sounds like a Star Wars character or someone Woody Allen might be dating! No-one wants to be a Judd, but at least it'd be a step up from Jennifer Diddy or Jennifer Affleck. Having said that, there are exciting marketing possibilities to be had with J-Af. It's just that that particular coupling is the sum of all our fears. And, as J-Lo has demonstrated, she's only in this business for her own gains.
Phony Rating: Eight out of Ten. There may have been some spark, but the relationship looked to be nothing more than a ploy to annoy P.Diddy.
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake
Why they got together: They met on the "Mickey Mouse Club", so it'd take a bigger cynic than me to question the legitimacy of their pairing. You just know you've found your true love when you see them prance around as a singing mouse. Nevertheless, Britney and Justin had similar interests: they liked to lip-synch while P.R reps spun lies about their true characters. The coupling was like a retarded pairing of real-life Ken and media puppet Barbie, just without the gratuitous plastic sex. Moreover, it kept both parties honest. She was the teen queen and he was the most talented member of a ridiculously successful boyband. They were young, hungry and full of expectation. It wasn't so much that the relationship was a set-up, rather that public relations department realized the benefits in selling it as pure love. And it may have been. In interview after interview, Britney and Justin spoke of being soulmates and wanting to settle down. They bought a house, he bought her a ring and the public bought IT. Then, like any other supposed fairytale, it was over.
Past Form: They used to dress up as mice.
Future Form: They'll screw around for a while before realizing they can't bear to be apart for much longer. It'll all be so sweet. The nation will weep.
Why the relationship didn't work: The relationship was clear media-fodder, with a beautiful tagline and ready-made headlines. They'd both vowed they were virgins, waiting until marriage to consummate their relationship, so the savvy media tried to uncover the proof of the deception. Britney spent so much time claiming her chastity, she neglected to consider that Justin might be sticking his little timberlake in a few hungry wolves. There were strong rumors of Justin becoming jaded by the lies and wanted to let his poodly hair down. Britney, virgin or not, wasn't exactly a wild-child.
It's also possible that too much importance was attached to the relationship. It improved both of their images, so it was mutually beneficial. With so much, no pun intended, riding on it, the relationship had to show some legs. Britney knew that the wide-eyed lovestruck act was one of her most marketable features. Justin, on the other hand, was in a band with Joey Fatone and a gay guy who wants to be sent to the Moon. It was vital that he, at least, looked somewhat balanced.
The pressure of fame and the pressure of fidelity once again collided. Britney was faithful, Justin was a little creep who'd chase skirts - or so we were led to believe. His reported fling with Aguilera suggests that Timberlake has taken his mouse fetsih once step too far. There's only so much salt you can throw on a wound. Post-split, both parties claimed they were "deeply upset" and "shocked", which is why they perform sell-out concerts in glittery outfits and date strippers. Because, let's face it, celebrities cope with their pain so much differently than the rest of us.
Phony Rating: Four out of Ten. They clearly have feelings for one another. Their reps clearly cashed in on it.
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
Why they got together: She was a talented and obscure Australian actress, who was falling low on the pecking order. He was a diminuitive A-list star, whose previous marriage had failed and whose sexuality was constantly under question - it didn't help that pre-superstardom, he frequented a variety of gay bars. They met on the set of "Days of Thunder", hit it off immediately and became Hollywood's golden couple. Consequently, the pairing improved Cruise's public persona and brought Kidman to immediate mainstream attention. It would be wrong to say that she needed him, but hooking up with a Hollywood big-hitter is never going to harm your career progress - even if you suck at the craft, you can make some money on the media circuit. Fortunately for Kidman, she was a good actress whose talent was obvious. Cruise, however, needed an element of normalcy and marrying a pretty, down-home actress is the best way to proceed in that regard.
Past Form: Publically, he was married to actress Mimi Rodgers. Privately, he prowled gay bars and has continued hush-hush shag sessions with censored gay porn stars: ALLEGEDLY *wink*. On the other hand, she played the dating field and can include Russell Crowe among her list of conquests. Obviously.
Future Form: He'll probably continue the macho facade until death, and once he gets what he needs from that intolerable Penelope Cruz, he'll move on to the next "beard". Post-divorce, Nicole Kidman has apparently had flings with Russell Crowe and Tobey Maguire, which if nothing else, proves she has woeful taste in men. She'll continue to date and continue to avoid little dictators who try to control and manipulate every facet of their image.
Why the relationship didn't work: At first, as is typical, the picture looked rosy. Kidman and Cruise were the very embodiment of marital bliss. Throughout their decade-long union, there had been murmurings of discontent, but in public they exuded happiness. Then, out of nowhere, the dream was over. Cruise and Kidman were finished. For good. As ever with the Cruise empire, the truth is heavily guarded. No-one knows for sure why one of Hollywood's brightest marriages fused out so suddenly.
Most of what has arisen since the divorce has been nothing but conjecture. Some critics believe that Kidman's recent acting success, achieved independently from her powerful spouse, threatened him and caused some noticeable cracks. Others say it was her perfectly reasonable contention that her kids not be raised Scientologist that angered Cruise. Why anyone would want their kids brain-fed a "religion" that tells its members we're all aliens with "gay-curing" tentacles is, quite honestly, beyond me. The other weak theory was that after the gruelling "Eyes Wide Shut" shoot, Cruise and Kidman became strained and started to question the nature of their relationship. Kubrick movies will do that to you.
There was also some alarm when it was clear that the couple were never going to conceive naturally and no-one knew the reason why. Furthermore, Cruise and Kidman shared adopted kids, and the rumor that Cruise's little "top gun" lacks the all-important missiles has hounded him for years. So, when Kidman announced her pregnancy last year, he flipped out and started blaming Ewan McGregor's trusty light saber. McGregor, married with child, denies any wrong-doing. Cruise, however, couldn't fathom that the kid was his - this despite countless lawsuits he's filed against tabloids that have labelled him "impotent", "sterile" and "queer". Sadly, the stress of the situation meant that Kidman lost her/their baby. And Cruise, like a heartless Hollywood scribe, wrote her out of his life.
The bigger cynics believe that the marriage was an elaborate facade from day one. They now claim that the facade had run its natural course. Or, despite the lengthy marriage, the gay slurs have never really left Cruise. In other words, it was Kidman who was benefitting. Her career had really taken off in the mid-nineties and the public stopped thinking of her as Mrs Cruise. Cruise was still the box-office superstar, but the marriage was harming his pretensions of being "macho". Whatever the case, Cruise was the one who called for divorce, and when his reps wanted him to play the single playboy, Penelope Cruz was signed up to play the love interest. And she fits the bill to a tee: by all accounts, she's fame-hungry, air-headed and easily manipulated. Just the way Captain Tom likes 'em.
Phony Rating: Six out of Ten. It was cheesy and improbable, but it surely wasn't a complete sham. Right?