CULTURE

Who Is this Strange Man Lurking Behind Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston?

His face speaks to the pain and fear of renewed hope.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

America cannot help itself when it comes to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.

Brad Jen Sag 2 Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Anytime they're in the same room together, a series of sirens immediately goes off in the offices of various tabloids and celebrity magazines. A familiar race kicks off to publish an updated carbon copy of a thousand previous articles with a handful of new pictures and some wild speculation about the two of them getting back together.

It's been happening since they divorced, 15 years ago, but has obviously accelerated since they both became single—Aniston having divorced Justin Theroux in 2017, while Pitt and Angelina Jolie finalized their prolonged divorce process last summer. We seem to have collectively decided that we all know these celebrities' lives better than they know themselves.

The story goes like this: Brad and Jen should never have broken up. The early 2000s were clearly the happiest time in both their lives, and the whole mess in 2005 was just one big misunderstanding orchestrated by Jolie's evil seduction on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. We want them to need each other, and we need them to want to get back together. How we pieced together the entirety of their private lives through telephoto lenses and third-hand rumors remains a mystery, but we've done it, and we know what's best for them. We just know.

Brad and Jen Sag Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

That's what makes the strange man lurking in the background of their latest interaction so upsetting. It's unclear what his role at the SAG Awards was—a member of security? Event staff? Brad and Jen were nominated for their performances in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Morning Showthey both won—but what is this tall, broad shouldered stranger doing there? He seems designed to project strength, but he just can't. Not with the scene that's unfolding before him—with Jen's hand pressing against Brad's chest, Brad holding her wrist as if to make that touch linger a little longer. The strange man lurking in the background is allowing his pain to show through his façade of strength. He is wounded. Wringing his hands. He's been burned by this hope before—allowed himself to feel a glimmer of love again through the imagined restoration of this lost, perfect couple.

And now Brad has quit drinking and settled the custody dispute with Jolie. We can't help but wonder if he is finally mature enough to be stable and strong for Jen—who is two years out from her second marriage and looked as amazing as ever in a sheer, silvery-white dress. And there in the background, those pleading eyes are staring at Brad Pitt, begging him not to hurt us again. Don't hold onto her hand like that if you don't mean it. Don't look into her shining eyes with that charming smile if you aren't ready to commit to an entire country full of desperate shippers.

I don't know who the large, sad man in these pictures is, but I don't need to, because we are all him, and he is us—wanting to believe in love again, but so frightened of being hurt.

sag lurker 2 Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Culture News

Is Carole Baskin Inheriting a Haunted "Indian" Burial Ground with Tiger King Zoo?

Current owner Jeff Lowe claims there are bodies, including "a young American Indian boy," buried on the property

It was recently reported that Carole Baskin had been awarded the property of the Tiger King Zoo—formerly the G.W. Zoo—in Wynnewood, Oklahoma after a judgment found in her favor.

As fans of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King will know, her long-standing legal feud with Joe Exotic (AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage, né Shreibvogel) over his violation of the Big Cat Rescue trademark resulted in a million dollar settlement in her favor. But for the most part Exotic managed to dodge paying Baskin through a series of illegal property transfers that temporarily protected his animal park from seizure.

Now that Exotic is in prison for attempting to have Baskin murdered—along with illegal animal trafficking and several violations of the Endangered Species Act—a judge has finally ruled that the park is hers, and she will be taking over ownership of the 16-acre property later this year. But Jeff Lowe—the park's current owner and the personification of a mid-life crisis—insists that there are no hard feelings, saying, "She deserves this property."

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TV

Every Character in "Friends" Is a Massive Piece of Poop

Every character in "Friends" is just a big ol' piece of poop. Here's why.

Warner Bros. Television

Friends is a hilarious show beloved by many people.

We know this because we can hear people laughing throughout the entirety of every episode, which means it must be very funny.

But why, then, am I never laughing? I have a great sense of humor. Nobody appreciates a farcical series of misunderstandings more than I do. Two goofy guys confusing one baby with another baby, because men are inherently incapable of being responsible with children––now that's what I call funny. So how come when Joey and Chandler did it on Friends, I didn't even chuckle? Was it because my own failing relationship with my father made me realize that Chandler's children would be doomed to an inevitable cycle of self-destructive behavior, just like me? Or is it possible that Friends actually just sucks?

friends fountain The most likable character on FriendsWarner Bros. Television

After all, I've never actually seen anyone laugh during Friends. I've only ever heard the TV studio audience laughing in the background, but I've worked in live TV and know for a fact that they have "Laugh" prompters to ensure maximal hilarity. If it's forced, does that laughter even really count? I'm starting to think that Friends might never have been funny.

Rather, Friends is remembered through rose-colored glasses, the beneficiary of pre-9/11 nostalgia from a time when coal miners still had jobs, comic books were still for nerds, and I didn't live in constant fear of being shot for writing aggressively anti-Friends articles on the Internet.

Mainly, my point is that, looking back, every character in Friends is just a big ol' piece of poop. Here's why:

Ross Geller

ross geller Warner Bros. Television

Friends plays Ross off as a lovably awkward nerd. Sure, he's neurotic, but he's also nice and kind-hearted and well-meaning. Except that's a heap of bull, because in reality, Ross is an emotional leech, systematically starting and then sabotaging relationships with women due to his toxic relationship with Rachel. Ross is fully incapable of holding a meaningful relationship with anyone else, going so far as to say Rachel's name during his wedding vows to another woman. In spite of this, Ross continually pursues new relationships, sabotaging his partner's life until the relationship falls apart, usually due to some shenanigans involving Rachel.

HAHA it's so funny that Ross's selfish toxicity probably leads to long-lasting hang-ups for any woman unlucky enough to enter his sallow-faced orbit. Also, his victims include a 20-year old student he was teaching as a professor, whose father he blackmails in order to avoid being rightfully outed to his university for his unconscionable abuse of authority. Ross is straight-up a bad person.

Rachel Green

rachel green Warner Bros. Television

Rachel and Ross really do deserve each other, which is to say that Rachel is also a monster. On top of being selfish, petty, and a compulsive liar, she's basically the embodiment of every "nice guy" straw man about girls who lead them on. Despite the fact that she's clearly not sexually attracted to Ross during the majority of the series (because seriously, why would she be?), she thrives on his attention and romantic interest for validation. If Rachel had any sense of decency she would cut Ross off, but instead, she not only continues stoking his romantic flame but goes so far as to sabotage his relationships with other women out of jealousy.

Rachel is borderline psychotic, and the best part about her and Ross finally becoming an item at the end of the series is the knowledge that neither of them will continue damaging innocent peoples' lives on the New York dating scene.

Joey Tribbiani

joey tribbiani Warner Bros. Television

Joey is a sexual predator. He aggressively harasses every woman he sees, spreading his dumb "How you doin'?" catchphrase around the New York dating scene like one of the many STDs he almost definitely has. He uses his position as a semi-famous actor to sleep with extras and interns on his show, which is, at best, the sort of abusive power dynamic that would almost certainly get him #MeToo'd nowadays. And yet, because he's borderline mentally disabled (he once got a turkey stuck on his head) and likes eating meatballs, it's all supposed to be funny? Well, it's not.

Joey's also a pretty awful friend, dating one of his supposed best friend's exes, which goes against literally every friend code imaginable. It's no wonder that his spin-off show, Joey, was a terrible flop. Whoever thought this godawful character could carry his own show probably also thought that Matt LeBlanc was a good actor.

Phoebe Buffay

phoebe buffay Warner Bros. Television

Okay, Phoebe isn't an assh*le so much as she's just completely unbelievable in every capacity. She's basically the proto-Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a hyper-problematic, typically hipster-esque stereotype whose entire personality revolves around being "LOL SO RANDOM XD" and #QUIRKY. There are absolutely no real people like this (repressed childhood traumas usually aren't played for laughs in real life, either); and if there are, their personalities are entirely fabricated, because nobody wants to be around them for extended periods of time.

On second thought, the possibility that people who behave like this might be modeling themselves off a horrendous trend that could be partially sourced to Phoebe might make her the absolute worst steaming pile of poo poo in the entire show.

Chandler Bing

chandler bing Warner Bros. Television

Chandler is, admittedly, the least sh*tty of the Friends boys, but don't worry. He's still a big meaty dump. See, Chandler's entire personality revolves around being a sarcastic asshat to everyone he meets. Oh, but it's just a defense mechanism. Cool, in the real world, there's a word for people who act like jerks as a defense mechanism: unlikable. Chandler also keeps Joey around mainly to feel like he's better and smarter than someone else. And while it's hard to feel bad for Joey (again, the guy is a bona fide sexual predator), he's also operating with a sub-optimal IQ. This makes him especially vulnerable to a bad faith friend like Chandler, who gets mad over Joey doing expectedly stupid things like buying an ugly friendship bracelet.

Like, what did Chandler want? That's one step up from thinking you can train a pet duckling and chick to live in a New York apartment. Nice one, Chandler.

Monica Geller

monica geller Warner Bros. Television

Unlike everyone else on Friends, Monica isn't really a terrible person. She's kind of bossy, but she's also generally nice and hard-working. Unfortunately, she's also kind of the main linchpin of the Friends group. Horrible, deceptively meek manipulator Ross is her no-good brother. Jealous, psychopathic Rachel is her best friend. She married Chandler, who's an arrogant prick. She's not responsible for Joey (that's on Chandler), but she did meet him early on and probably should have put an end to his participation in the group after he basically immediately sexually assaulted her. But she is responsible for Phoebe, who was vaguely her roommate initially or something.

And you gotta wonder, if one person is exclusively friends with terrible people who compound one another's worst traits and ruin the lives of basically everyone they encounter, doesn't that person have to be kind of terrible, too?