If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last week, you’ll likely have heard that – after about fifteen years with very little contact – ex-husband and wife Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt shared a brief (but monumental) moment at the SAG Awards on Sunday night.
During the evening in which both won awards for The Morning Show and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood respectively, they bumped into each other backstage and what transpired to be a surprisingly tender, tactile moment was captured by a photographer who – in the eyes of social media – could have only been placed there by angels.
And while the pictures were busy going viral, a backstage videographer took on the seemingly impossible task of one-upping the aforementioned photographer, by capturing a video of Brad stopping everything to watch Jen take to the stage after a shock win in the Leading Actress category to make her acceptance speech.
He didn’t take his eyes off the screen and smiled longingly at the actress throughout, prompting a very visceral reaction from a large portion of society who grew up fawning over the couple’s every move.
Of course, this collective nostalgia and romanticised reaction to the brief but charged reunion angered a large portion of society, who deem Brad’s past mistakes entirely unforgivable.
GLAMOUR UK’s Instagram post reminiscing about “all the old, romantic photos” of the pair was met with comments ranging from “Nope!!!!!” to “He saw a chance to upgrade. The upgrade dumped him. Tell him where to stick to it” and “Why would JA even entertain the idea the man left her for another women and she rightly moved on! Just because she’s polite in public doesn’t mean she would have him back!!”.
“You are misunderstanding your feelings if you think you want them to get back together,” Vanity Fair executive editor Claire Howorth tweeted. “You want her to be smoking hot, him to be single [and] perhaps chastened, a possibility to linger in the air for us, and them to carry on.”
Brad and Jen began dating in 1998, before marrying at a $1 million Malibu wedding in 2000. They weren’t shy of public attention, lapping up every red carpet appearance as a couple, and quickly became the most in-demand golden couple of the moment.
In 2004 Brad began working on spy thriller Mr. and Mrs. Smith where he met Angelina Jolie, and a year later he and Jen were divorced. Brad and Angelina denied relationship rumours at the time, but that didn’t quell the inordinate global feeling of deceit on behalf of ‘our Jen’.
“For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration”, read the joint statement, but that, too, failed to convince.
Brad and Angelina announced their engagement in 2012 after seven years together and married on August 23, 2014. As the years went by, the truth behind the break down of Brad and Jen’s relationship became clearer, and many fans’ worst fears were confirmed.
Speaking to Vogue, Angelina admitted that: “It took until, really, the end of the shoot for us, I think, to realise that it might mean something more than we’d earlier allowed ourselves to believe.” She went on to tell the New York Times that she looked forward to the day when she would be able to put Mr. and Mrs. Smith in the DVD player for the children; “not a lot of people get to see a movie where their parents fell in love.”
During this time, Jen – who was frequently portrayed as the forever-broken-hearted woman – had dated the likes of Vince Vaughn and John Mayer before falling in love with Justin Theroux and marrying him in August 2015.
Despite this, she was often asked in interviews about her previous relationship – such was the appetite for unheard titbits. And while she often avoided the topic, she admitted to Vogue: “There was stuff printed that was definitely from a time when I was unaware that it was happening,” says Aniston. “I felt those details were a little inappropriate to discuss. That stuff about how she couldn’t wait to get to work every day? That was really uncool.”
Jen also famously said in an interview with Vanity Fair that when it comes to Brad, “There’s a sensitivity chip that’s missing”.
The divorced pair continued to live their now-separate lives, as Brad and Angelina’s marriage came to an end in 2016, followed by the breakdown of Jen and Justin’s in 2018.
Inevitably, the news that both Brad and Jen were single again caused a crescendo amongst the pair’s most devoted fans whose chorus had been somewhat dulled – albeit not silenced – by the passing years.
Calls for the duo to reunite were now more rife than ever, but never more so than over the last week post-wrist grab gate.
But can we ethically champion the romantic reunion of a couple whose relationship’s demise was so heavily-influenced by the infidelity – at the very least emotional, if not sexual – of one party? Can we [hands-in-the-air-with-dispair] *ever* forgive Brad? I’d suggest we take Jen’s lead on that one.
Have you ever forgiven a cheating partner? We’d all like to say we would never, but a huge number of us have. And while some second chances haven’t worked out, others have. A quick discussion at GLAMOUR HQ, in fact, just proved that very point, as one staffer revealed her parents have been back together for eight years, and are stronger than ever, having separated after one party did the dirty.
Are we really saying that, amidst the already immense complexities that make up a relationship, something as common as unfaithfulness is never forgivable?
Admittedly, I’d struggle. But time is a great healer, and Jen has fifteen years of emotional growth to thank for her maturity in being able to not only face her ex-husband, but to be so warm towards him. Doesn’t this prove the strength of the love they once had? Is it worth shutting off the possibility to experience such love again for the sake of pride and stubbornness?
Reports have also surfaced this week that Brad has not only acknowledged his mistakes, but has directly apologised to Jen for them.
A source told In Touch Weekly: “He’s been determined to apologise for everything he put her through, and that’s exactly what he did. It was the most intimate conversation Brad and Jen have ever had.”
“Jen was overcome with emotion. All the hurt feelings and resentment she’d suppressed for years came flooding to the surface, and she broke down in tears.”
“He apologised to Jen for being an absentee husband, for being stoned and bored much of the time. He also made amends for leaving her for Angelina.”
Now we all know how illegitimate ‘a source’ can be, but, true or not, should we not trust that this brilliant, 50-year-old woman knows herself well enough to make her own life choices?
Whether or not she does choose to believe in second chances and reconcile with Brad, Jen should feel empowered enough to make the decision for herself – without the rolling of eyes and ‘anti-feminist’ accusations from people who’d rather she was a pillar of ‘single independence’ than happy.