Ben Affleck and Lindsay Shookus were in Maine last weekend where they were sighted at a liquor store. Not a good look. They’re now back, together, in LA and last night Ben joined Lindsay at a comedy show where she was supposedly scouting talent. After that they went out to dinner.

Needless to say, when Ben and Lindsay go out, especially in LA, they’re not hard to find. They’re not hard for the paps to find. There’s almost a defiance to it, non? It’s not like he wouldn’t know what people are saying, what with the curious timeline of their relationship and all the cheating rumours, and still, it feels like he’s taking a “f-ck it” approach. If Brad Pitt can do it, I can do it too. OK. But he’s not Brad Pitt. And she’s not Angelina Jolie.

There is certainly an argument to be made for familiarity, in addition to the “we have nothing to hide” approach. If we get used to it then we will be used to it. And maybe he hopes that at that point, he and Lindsay won’t be a story anymore. What Ben can never see, though, is that he’s always a story. Almost always because he makes himself the story.

Still, if that’s his strategy? Then work the f-cking strategy. Produce the sh-t out of the strategy. He is a producer, after all. A good one. And what’s always so frustrating is that Ben seems incapable of applying those skills to this kind of situation. If you want to “produce” the public acceptance of your new relationship? The first step is to make it look good. Like on the outside. When you produce an appearance, part of that production is the actual appearance. What are my characters wearing in that scene and why? What do they look like in that moment?

Ben’s version of that is to step out with Lindsay wearing stains all over his shirt. Or walking out of a restaurant with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. I used to smoke. God knows I love a cigarette. There will never be a day that I won’t wish that smoking could be good for you. So I’m not here to judge someone for smoking being that I did it for so long myself. But there is an undeniable stigma that’s associated with smoking. This is why Jacqueline Kennedy, who was a chain smoker, assiduously avoided being photographed while smoking. It’s why Princess Kate went to great lengths to hide her smoking. And neither of them have ever been seen to be sloppy. Every time we’ve seen Ben Affleck with Lindsay Shookus he looks like a slob. His clothes are slobby, he’s tired in the eyes, and, when you add the cigarette hanging out of his mouth, there’s nothing here that suggests any freshness. If it were a scene in a movie where you’re trying to tell the audience that a character has been renewed, and is happy, and is “focused” (the word his sources keep using to describe him) and fulfilled and looking forward to the next chapter, you’d never present them the way Ben presents himself. You’d never produce it that way.

You know who’s very good at producing a scene though? Jennifer Garner. Post on her coming up next.