I’d been wondering about it for weeks – would Ben Affleck show up on the Marry Me red carpet with Jennifer Lopez the way she showed up for him on The Last Duel and The Tender Bar red carpets? The answer is yes. He didn’t just show up, they served exactly what we all wanted to see. And I’m not referring to the public display of affection but more his general, unmistakable willingness. There is zero reluctance happening here with Ben, he is all in with the body language, the eye contact, the enthusiasm. Look at this show? I love this show.
Also, obviously, the movie is Marry Me. And she’s in white.
But, um, about the movie, which opens next week…
Sarah tweeted this last night:
Just LOATHING a movie I know will break @LaineyGossip's heart.— Sarah Marrs (@Cinesnark) February 9, 2022
Here’s the thing about me and rom-coms. I like them, even when they’re bad. Sometimes they’re bad and then they become good. You want an example? The Sweetest Thing, a movie thrashed by critics when it came out and now beloved by people who know. Will Marry Me be like The Sweetest Thing? LOL, probably not, because I’m pretty sure there are no dick and tits jokes. So I guess I really don’t have a point here, other than to say I’m still going to watch the sh-t out of it and laugh about it and then watch it again. Will I be the only one?
JLo is hustling hard for this movie, as she does for everything. There have been multiple interviews, appearances, it’s been all over her social media for weeks, and magazine cover feature too, including the latest issue of Rolling Stone, looking bomb in a middle-part bob with cut-out plunging-neck jumpsuit.
During the interview, JLo does talk about getting back together with Ben but it’s along the same lines of what she’s been saying for weeks – they’re treasuring the second chance they’ve been given, they learned so much for their experience being together all those years ago and are trying to protect what they have, nothing new here.
But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get deeply personal about other family matters, especially as she relates to her character in the movie, a global superstar who seems to have it all but has to deal with the humiliations and tensions that accompany that level of fame. I’m not sure if they get all that deep into it in the movie but she’s pretty revealing in Rolling Stone about how her celebrity has affected her relationships:
“Then again, she’s not sure her parents understand her. “How could they?” she asks. “I think they are confused by my life.” And they are not alone. “When one person becomes famous in a family it causes a lot of discord. It can be complicated for both sides. It got complicated for me, like, ‘Is this still, you know, my family who loves me and accepts me and understands me and feels like I’m the same person, or do they see me as different as well?’ For them, it was like, ‘OK, well, now she’s this, and what does that mean? How much do I expect? How much do I ask for and how much do I not?’ There’s confusion. There’s resentment and very mixed, complicated, adult feelings. You know, ‘What is all this?’”
“What is all this” is what quick traffic gossip headlines can’t capture. How does the atmosphere in a household change when one of the members becomes JLo. It’s a mind-f-ck for everyone in that space. It changes every dynamic, sometimes in devastating ways, as we’ve seen with other mega popstars. Not sure if she’s working some of that sh-t out in Marry Me, since I haven’t seen it, but even if she’s not, she seems to be going there while promoting Marry Me in the context of playing a character who is as famous as she is.
JLo lately also seems to be hitting another theme during her recent press opportunities – that she still sees herself as an underdog. Reflex reaction here might be to roll your eyes because she’s Jennifer Lopez, Jenny From the Block, there are few multihyphenates (vocab throwback!) who have had her longevity and success in the business. Sometimes, though, when you’ve been around as long as she has, and at the top as long as she has, people forget about the blows that she had to absorb. There’s a whole section in the Rolling Stone article that reminds the reader that in 2001, with the album J.Lo and the movie The Wedding Planner, she was the first woman to have a #1 album and a #1 movie at the box office in THE SAME WEEK. Per Rolling Stone though:
“Instead of being celebrated, they criticized. They marginalized. They reduced her. They wouldn’t give it to her, ever,” says her friend and producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas. “Here was a woman who had the Number One movie and the Number One album. That had never happened. And they were writing about Puffy. [A year later] Maid in Manhattan was Number One. But here’s what the press said: ‘Ben Affleck sleeps with the help.’ She just didn’t get the credit that other — I don’t know how else to say it — white actresses got. And I know, because I worked with them.”
South Park called her a “mean-spirited bitch” in an episode that poked fun at her Latin heritage. Conan O’Brien said that, as stand-ins for the couple in a sketch, he’d cast “our script intern” as Affleck and “our cleaning lady” as Lopez.”
Again, in the culture, these details are forgotten. To the person who experienced them though, even if she’s Jennifer Lopez, you never forget. Because while that may have been 20 years ago, just 10 years ago, she was “basically broke”.
“In fact, one of the defining features of Lopez’s fame is that, despite the wealth and luxury it has provided, there is still that disconnect — between where Lopez came from and where she is, but also between where she is and where she thinks she could be. One year she was on the cover of 46 magazines. Her music has helped make Latin pop mainstream. But she never won that Golden Globe. Nor was she nominated for an Oscar despite near-universal consensus that she should have been. It wasn’t even that long ago that she was basically broke. This was when her twins, Emme and Max, were toddlers and she was in the process of divorcing Anthony and her label had dropped her and her album sales were lackluster and she was over 40 and no one would cast her in their movie and she wanted to trade in a car. “And my business manager was like, ‘Nope, you can’t do anything right now,’” she says. “I was like, ‘Really?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s not make any moves right now. Let’s just wait until you can work again.’”
That was just before American Idol. It’s my job to know this and I’m pretty sure I didn’t know this so it’s definitely not JLo 101. Yes, there was all kinds of debate and speculation at the time about whether or not it was a good move for her and she was advised by some to not take that job but it wasn’t widely known that there were almost no other jobs for her to take, and so she does what JLo has always done – turned a less than ideal opportunity into a golden one. In the decade since American Idol, JLo has only more career highs, from what was evidently a major career low.
To go back to her feeling like an underdog then, this is part of the explanation. This is the attitude that shapes and informs all her decisions. Now in her 50s, and well past that “basically broke” pre-American Idol period, she’s still doesn’t feel like all the rooms are open to her – and she brings the receipts. It’s been a decade of non-stop determination and work: American Idol, World of Dance, Shades of Blue, music releases, a world tour, a skin care line, the Super Bowl halftime show, Hustlers, raising twins, Rolling Stone’s paragraph here detailing her last decade of hustle comes at you like a runaway ice dispenser…
“…she still isn’t often considered for gritty, hard-hitting parts. “I don’t even know half the movies when they come out at the end of the year,” she says. “I have the top agents in the world, but [those projects] don’t come to me.” She founded Nuyorican Productions — which produced both Hustlers and Marry Me — specifically to “take my career in my own hands.”
Those are the receipts. She’s not lying. You can be Jennifer Lopez and no one is sending you scripts. But then there’s Nicole Kidman who gets asked to play Lucille Ball. The point is, at least we have the opportunity to argue about whether or not Nicole was right for the part. JLo doesn’t even get to that stage of the conversation. And she’s JLo!
So that’s the sentiment behind her next statement:
“It’s just 20, 25 years of people going, ‘Well, she’s not that great. She’s pretty and she makes cute music, but it’s not really this and that.’ You know, I think I’ve done some nice work over the years, some really nice work. But there is a club that I just wasn’t a part of. And I always acted like, ‘Yeah, I’m good. I’m fine. I’m OK.’ But it hurts to not be included. I don’t know if I will ever be. There is an inner circle, like, ‘We are the great artists.’ And then there’s the pop artists.”
And that may sound like a whinge but JLo backs it up with her production company Nuyorican, finding and financing her own projects. Hustlers was a hit. Marry Me might not be. But she has a deal with Netflix and the first movie comes out some time this year. That’s the thing about JLo – she never stays down, her bounce-back ability is amazing.