Ben Affleck’s candid interview with The New York Times came out yesterday and today the first part of his interview with Diane Sawyer aired on Good Morning America and he’s equally as forthcoming about alcoholism and dealing with the breakdown of his marriage. Can we do a little Gossip Nostalgia for a minute? Diane did the interview with Jennifer Lopez back in 2002 when she finally confirmed that she and Ben were engaged, remember? And she described how he proposed? That was before YouTube. I know, right? Can you even remember a time before YouTube? It’s hard to find now and I’m trying to avoid YouTube right now because if I go on YouTube during working hours, all I’ll end up doing is watching BTS videos.
ANYWAY. Back to Ben and Diane – the video is below, and while he was pretty raw in the NYT, that wasn’t on camera. On camera, there’s a visual to go with the words:
.@GMA EXCLUSIVE: “I really don’t want my children to pay for my sins.” @BenAffleck opens up to @dianesawyer about his sobriety battle and how his dad’s addiction to alcohol taught him “how important it is for me to be sober.” pic.twitter.com/phEcgY906q— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 20, 2020
Ben’s voice has always been kind of crackly but you can hear the regret and the disappointment at several points here when he’s talking about the effect of addiction on his children, and particularly when he’s talking about the divorce.
Here’s what I appreciate what he says about feeling like a failure because of his divorce – we don’t hear it often enough from men. Female celebrities address it all the time, from Reese Witherspoon to Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston and Scarlett Johansson and, yes, Jennifer Garner too. And those are the words they use: pain, fail, hurt, self-blame, and it’s almost as though women are assigned more of the responsibility…because, of course, when it comes to marriage as an institution, the emotional labour of holding it together traditionally is not assigned to the man. So when marriages fall of apart, even though it takes two, it’s women who feel it’s their fault. And men just don’t talk about it. Which is why they’re not the face of it.
That’s not the case here with Ben though – and I’m not just talking about the breakdown of the marriage but about how he very clearly articulates that he never imagined that he would be divorced, how hard it was for him to confront that reality, in the same vocabulary that we’ve heard from female celebrities accepting that as a new part of their identity. And the vocabulary is the key, because the loss should be the same, no matter if you were a wife or a husband.
I do wonder though how Jennifer Garner is dealing with this current press tour and whether or not Ben gave her a heads up about it before he began. Because that’s important too. After all, it’s not just his story and when he’s speaking about this so openly, inevitably it will affect her. She’s sharing in these headlines, she’s being exposed too by his vulnerability.
Attached - Ben Affleck at a Q&A and screening of The Way Back and on Despierta America yesterday.