We’ll get to TikTok in a minute – but first, let’s go back to Jennifer Lopez’s Vogue cover story, for the December issue. It came out a few weeks ago and most of the focus was on what she said about Ben Affleck obviously. And the oblique mention for the first time of Jennifer Garner. JLo calls her “an amazing co-parent”. What was overlooked, I think, was what came next in the piece:
“Affleck’s ex-wife is, Lopez says, “an amazing co-parent, and they work really well together.” Lopez does not have the benefit of such a relationship with her ex-husband, who lives on the East Coast. “The transition is a process that needs to be handled with so much care,” she says. “They have so many feelings. They’re teens. But it’s going really well so far. What I hope to cultivate with our family is that his kids have a new ally in me and my kids have a new ally in him, someone who really loves and cares about them but can have a different perspective and help me see things that I can’t see with my kids because I’m so emotionally tied up.”
Jennifer Lopez has primary custody of her two children, Max and Emme. In their divorce and custody agreement, it was decided that Max and Emme would be with her a majority of the time and that they would see their father, Marc Anthony, seven days a month. For the people who talk a lot of sh-t about her, what they don’t appreciate is that she’s mostly raised her kids on her own so when she says it’s complicated, the transition process, with family dynamics changing, she’s really been through it herself. And so she would legit be that much more appreciative of Jennifer Garner’s efforts and collaboration. Because it doesn’t seem like she got much of that herself.
I’m not a parent but I am fascinated by JLo’s thoughts on parenting. Because she has hinted over the last few years, including in this interview with Vogue, that the way she was parented by her own mother and father shaped her in positive and negative ways. A lot of what she says about working through her issues and her bad habits seemed to be directly related to her childhood experiences with her parents. And that, in turn, informs the choices she makes as a parent.
“I really wanted to find a better way than having to put the fear in them. It’s like, I can hold a boundary with you but also be your ally. That’s the balance, where they respect you enough because you act in a way that they can look up to. It’s what I feel like I want to do because when I was young that wasn’t what it was.”
I’m of the same generation as JLo and back then, at least in my experience, especially for immigrant parents, parenting was about fear. Times have changed, obviously, for JLo, who grew up in a working class environment, how does she make sure her kids aren’t afraid of her but also aren’t entitled. This a dilemma for her.
“It’s hard, in its own way, when you don’t have to fight for things, because then you don’t learn how to be a fighter,” she says, boxing at the air with her fists. “I had to learn how to be a fighter. I wanted to give them a life that I didn’t have, but they don’t get to have the experience of something that is also helpful, which is developing that survivalist mentality.”
So I love what she said about boundaries: “I can hold a boundary with you but also be your ally”. This is the ideal. To draw a line that doesn’t detach, a line that doesn’t separate. All while having to manage what her children experience in an entirely different household with their father.
This the side of JLo that she rarely performs for an audience. This is not what she puts out on Instagram or on stage. Or it’s the side that gets overshadowed by the romance. Or maybe it’s the side that she deliberately lets the romance overshadow?
As for the romance, the Vogue story is pretty much what she’s already said – that she and Ben Affleck were surprised themselves that what they had 20 years ago was still there; that they have learned from their previous experience and are ready now, after what they went through separately, to build a life together. It also confirms what I suspected back in April 2021, when she covered InStyle and all kinds of celebrities chimed in to talk about the 20th anniversary of JLo, including Ben, throwing up a bat signal and shooting his shot.
“Lopez’s intimates know that she has always held a candle for Affleck. Shortly after she and the retired baseball great Alex Rodriguez called off their engagement in early 2021, she got an email from the actor-director, who had just come out of a relationship with the actress Ana de Armas. A magazine had asked Affleck for a comment about Lopez, and he wanted her to know that he had provided a rave. They kept talking. They started visiting each other at home.”
LOL at “he wanted her to know that he had provided a rave”. So, basically, he emailed her all like, “I said all these great things about you, did you see it, did you see it?!”
That’s her love language though, isn’t it? Ben Affleck has always known how to speak her love language. And now here they are, on her TikTok together for the first time:
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“I found the person that makes me the happiest.”
They have been out there with their happiness a lot over the last few months since the wedding, and disappointingly she’s been super quiet On The JLo, with no new newsletters…but this is a good thing; that most of who they are as a couple is, actually, private.
And besides, it’s not like there isn’t work. For JLo, there is always work. Work, really, is her one true love and she’s been shooting a new movie and, also, as Vogue reveals, recording a new album. It sounds like it’s a companion piece to This is Me…Then.
We JLo scholars know that This is Me…Then was her album about Ben. “Jenny From The Block” is off that album. There’s been so much speculation about whether or not Bennifer was recreating that video in the summer of 2021. We just might get it, but an updated version, in the new year.
As for Ben’s work, he’s been in post for his Nike movie all fall but he and Matt Damon also just made an announcement:
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon announced on Sunday that they plan to start an independent production company, called Artistsâ€™ Equity. Unlike streaming services and most studios, they plan to share profits with their actors and off-camera artisans. https://t.co/es1JehoiYL— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 20, 2022
Matt and Ben already have at least $100 million in funding from RedBird Capital which, interestingly, was in talks with Bob Iger right before he went back to Disney. Matt and Ben have also themselves invested in…well…themselves. And significantly there’s this:
“Mr. Affleck and Mr. Damon have also committed an unknown amount of capital, and Mr. Affleck, whose hits as a filmmaker include “Argo” and “The Town,” has agreed to work exclusively for Artists Equity.”
I wonder what that will mean in practice. Because this is basically them running their own studio and Ben’s had a pretty fruitful relationship with Warner Bros for a long time. That’s not to say Artists Equity can’t collaborate with other studios, I guess, but this is a pretty major decision. As he told the NYT, he’s an executive now, maybe even over and above and actor and a director.
“I’ve had people sort of pull me aside and say, you know, that this is going to be a lot of pressure, a lot of work,” Mr. Affleck said. “And there was part of me, I have to admit, that was like — come on, these studio guys sit behind desks and make phone calls. The artists are the ones who have to go off and actually make the movie and do all the work.”
Mr. Affleck said he has been finding out how much work his new job will be. He cited dealings with hard-grinding agents.
“I have already been humbled,” he said, laughing. “But my only regret is that I didn’t have the sense of self to try this earlier. Now I feel very ready to do it. I’m right at that period of life where you have enough experience and confidence and self-assuredness.”
“That period of life” brings us back to JLo, his biggest cheerleader. I mean, they were a power couple before, but now, with Ben’s studio ambitions and her own vast empire, they’re planning for mid-life domination into their 50s and 60s and 70s.