The Blast reported yesterday that Angelina Jolie is “in danger of losing physical custody” of the children to Brad Pitt after accessing court documents related to their custody dispute. After The Blast broke the news, PEOPLE ran with a similar headline and then followed up with an article attempting to explain the situation after interviewing a family lawyer not connected to the case who breaks down the language in the judge’s recommendations, suggesting that Angelina’s actions have resulted in Brad being alienated from his kids.
It’s a mess. And… it also smells dirty. Because it’s been over a year since Brange called a ceasefire, agreeing to lock down their drama after months of mutual leaking and PR maneuvering through the media. They announced their split in September 2016. There were reports about an incident on a plane. Angelina was granted temporary primary custody. Over the next three months, the ugliness escalated on both sides. And then, at the beginning of 2017, they agreed to have everything sealed, to stop scrapping with each other publicly, and the situation simmered down. But we saw just how much influence Brad had on Hollywood and how even Angelina, a masterful media strategist, was at times overpowered by the deep connections Brad had built in the industry over the years. Media outlets like E!, PEOPLE, and US Weekly, and more were lining up in Brad’s corner. So… given that the reporting on these new court documents suggests that Angelina’s been keeping Brad from the kids, how were they made available to the media in the first place? Who benefits most from this leak?
The media is focusing on the fact that the judge in the case is telling Angelina that she needs to allow Brad more access to their children, in person and over text, with the exception of Maddox who is now 16 and can decide for himself. And she can’t call them more than once a day when they’re with their dad. That the judge has singled out these behaviours suggests that Angelina is perceived to be intentionally sabotaging Brad’s relationship with the kids. It’s totally sh-tty and the judge has given her an “if/then” proposition: if this doesn’t change, your custody will change. That’s a hypothetical though.
But while most of the media focus and the headlines have centred on these details about Angelina, what’s not a hypothetical is that Brad’s visits with the children still need to be supervised. According to the documents, “a child therapist will also be with them” when they’re staying with Brad. And “the doctor is once again required to be present and will meet with the kids before and after” every two days that he’s with them between July 8 and July 14. This is significant because, if you recall, Brad’s team was claiming up and down that he’d been exonerated of wrongdoing. It’s been a year and a half since they separated. And in that time and for whatever reason, the designated professionals still haven’t determined that they no longer have to monitor Brad’s interactions with his kids. That’s sh-tty too.
It’s sh-tty on both sides, as is often the case when children are involved in a divorce. As a study in celebrity culture though, what’s interesting here is that even though there are two parents who are behaving badly – one who may or may not be blocking access to the kids, which is gross, and the other who may or may not be sharing custody documents in exchange for public sympathy to obscure the problematic details about his own arrangement, also gross – the reporting does not seem to reflect it. What do you think that’s all about? And what do you think this is setting up? Is there an architecture and design conference coming up? Will Dr Neri Oxman be there?