OH MY SWEET GOSSIP.
Have you read the new Vanity Fair? Jennifer Garner on the cover? It’s Vanity Fair. It is DISH. It is so good, it is SO delicious. And it’s perfect, just f-cking perfect, for this weekend. Oscar weekend. She’s presenting. After almost 9 months of divorce drama, nanny drama, Ben’s bullsh-t, she’s decided that this will be the weekend she tells the industry, and the pop culture-consuming public, that she’s ready for a reinvention.
But before we begin, let’s go back over 10 years. And another Jennifer who’d just gotten divorced. She too went to Vanity Fair to tell her story. Remember this?
That was the interview where she said Brad Pitt was missing a “sensitivity chip”. That was also the interview where she said, “Billy Idol called, he wants his hair back”. Click here if you want to revisit the article. Because it’s a terrific gossip exercise in compare and contrast. They are very, very similar in their approach…but Jennifer Garner? She did it better. SO MUCH BETTER.
Somehow, in this piece, Jennifer Garner maintains her standing with the MiniVan Majority – upholding the values and the attitude of the perfect mom, the classy, elegant divorced single mother – while, at the same time, landing some really impressive blows on Ben Affleck’s ass. But without approaching Housewives of Beverly Hills territory.
I’ve always said she was master player at this game. And this interview is the manifestation of all of those skills, all of those moves. She keeps cutting him and he can’t see it coming. It is GLORIOUS. And it should be read in its natural flow but let me just pull out some highlights for you. Because they get to Chrissy O right off the top. And the writer mentions that Ben insists that he never cheated on Jen with the nanny. She seems to – SEEMS TO – corroborate this:
“It was a real marriage,” Garner tells me. “It wasn’t for the cameras. And it was a huge priority for me to stay in it. And that did not work.”
Now to end on what the gossip pages call “nannygate”—it’s all so unsavory and such a cliché. “Let me just tell you something,” Garner says. “We had been separated for months before I ever heard about the nanny. She had nothing to do with our decision to divorce. She was not a part of the equation. Bad judgment? Yes. It’s not great for your kids for [a nanny] to disappear from their lives.” Months later, she’s still assessing the damage. “I have had to have conversations about the meaning of ‘scandal,’ ” she says, with her children.
Sure. Stick to the timeline you and Ben agreed upon. And let us fill in the blanks, I’m good with that. It’s not like she doesn’t give us plenty to work with. You see how she sets that up? “The nanny” wasn’t the reason why they split. And the nanny didn’t affect her. But whatever went down with the nanny definitely hurt the children. THE CHILDREN. You see what she did there? You see how she just sliced him across the cheek?
In between the cuts though, she’s pads her case with a lot of great talk about her kids as the priority, and we hear from her influential friends – Steve Carell, JJ Abrams, who definitely wants to work with her again, and Matthew McConaughey who praises her “humanity”, and Victor Garber, who admires her tenacity and introduces us to this new person who’s emerged from this crisis an infinitely more interesting woman who’s ready to move forward by looking back:
“I didn’t marry the big fat movie star; I married him,” she says. “And I would go back and remake that decision. I ran down the beach to him (at their wedding), and I would again. You can’t have these three babies and so much of what we had. He’s the love of my life. What am I going to do about that? He’s the most brilliant person in any room, the most charismatic, the most generous. He’s just a complicated guy. I always say, ‘When his sun shines on you, you feel it.’ But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow.”
I have chills too now, do you? Not because I want to be in Ben Affleck’s sun because, f-ck me, she’s the one who’s brilliant. She’s not saying anything here that’s overtly disparaging. But she’s basically telling us that her husband, who was supposed to honour and respect and love her first, didn’t actually put her first. And she’s not done. As we know, she and Ben have managed to consciously uncouple, for the sake of their children:
“Of course this is not what I imagined when I ran down the beach, but it is where I am,” she says. “We still have to help each other get through this. He’s still the only person who really knows the truth about things. And I’m still the only person that knows some of his truths.”
SOME OF HIS TRUTHS.
It’s the choice of words. It’s what she’s saying, and not saying. It’s HOW she’s saying it. With ostensible compassion and yet, knowing that this is Vanity Fair, and knowing who’s going to be reading Vanity Fair, this is the not the same as telling a reporter, “We are close, and we will always be there for each other”. I mean that would have sufficed. But no, Jennifer Garner had to take it 15 steps further and talk about his “truths”. I think I might be in love with her.
And there’s more!
“It’s not Ben’s job to make me happy,” she insists. “The main thing is these kids—and we’re completely in line with what we hope for them. Sure, I lost the dream of dancing with my husband at my daughter’s wedding. But you should see their faces when he walks through the door. And if you see your kids love someone so purely and wholly, then you’re going to be friends with that person.” But with that evolved outlook, did it still smart when, at the Golden Globes in January, host Ricky Gervais introduced Matt Damon as “the only person who Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to”?
She admits to watching it and adds, “I laughed. People have pain—they do regrettable things, they feel shame, and shame equals pain. No one needs to hate him for me. I don’t hate him. Certainly we don’t have to beat the guy up. Don’t worry—my eyes were wide open during the marriage. I’m taking good care of myself.”
“My eyes were wide open during the marriage” is a defence of him on the surface, in the sense that she doesn’t want you to keep thinking she was deceived, but the idea of having to keep your “eyes wide open” while existing in a marriage, so as to protect yourself from… whatever it is that you might see… well, what does that tell you about what she saw?
And finally, to bring it back to that other Jen, Jennifer Aniston – Brad Pitt bleached his head when they split and she made that joke about Billy Idol. Jennifer Garner’s equivalent, would it be Ben’s back tattoo of a phoenix?
Aniston’s joke was a little corny. Jennifer Garner took a slightly different approach:
One thing is for sure: she refuses to claim responsibility for the midlife-crisis tattoo—the rising phoenix—that takes up her estranged husband’s entire back, as seen in photographs. “You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart.’ A phoenix rising from the ashes. Am I the ashes in this scenario?” Garner says with a wink.
“I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes.”
Translation – no, motherf-cker, you don’t get to imply that you burned in a fiery hell when we were married. You don’t get to fly off in glory out of my pain. I’m not going to be that for you.
And this interview pretty much proves it.
Click here to read the full article. It’s the best way to start Oscar weekend.