Very funny,and spot on about both of them
Come back Burton and Taylor
J-Lo and Affleck's soundbite marriage.
Friday December 13, 2002
I've been scanning the newspapers, the internet, the celeb-gossip TV shows and the scandal magazines a lot lately. I'm given to believe, by what I read there, that the single most important drama currently unfolding on the world stage is not the likely invasion of Iraq, but the impending nuptials of J-Lo and Ben Affleck. We've heard all about the $3.5m ring he gave her, the whirlwind romance that surprised everyone, the headlong rush to the altar announced in October, when the ink on Lopez's July divorce was still wet, and the endless saccharine rehashes of it all in print from journalists working on rumour, eighth-hand non-sources, bribable doormen and self-proclaimed "friends of friends". And we eat it up off the floor with hands unwashed. When we are finished, we ask for more - and we get it.
Where does our bottomless appetite for all this vacuous crap come from? I have yet to encounter a single soul who gives even a fraction of a monkey's bum about this tedious couple and their (I'll wager) five months of wedded bliss. Is this our era's sad apology for a Burton and Taylor, Sinatra and Ava Gardner, Gable and Lombard, Fairbanks and Pickford? Well, they are both gigantic stars, but that's about as far as it goes. Neither Lopez nor Affleck has a scintilla of the talent, epochal hold on us or enduring iconic status of their illustrious predecessors. They remind me more of Cher and Gregg Allman, the singer/ drama queen and the desiccated waste case, who married briefly and disastrously in the mid-1970s. At least they offered great, trashy, love-in-a-tailspin fare for the tabloids of the time. Lopez and Affleck will conduct their romance through press releases, sound-bites, and scripted moments on the red carpet at premieres and powermonger bashes.
We will learn exactly what they want us to learn. The joining together of J-Lo and Ben seems more like a canny set of career moves. Lopez's third album, evasively entitled This Is Me, came out three weeks after their headline-grabbing engagement announcement, and trailers for Daredevil, Affleck's attempt (doomed, I think) to craft his own superhero franchise, started in heavy rotation in US cinemas only a week or so later.
Lopez can enjoy being associated with Affleck's "indie" background, and Affleck can be seen to be bigger and better than he actually is. Lopez's career couldn't be hotter. She's the biggest Latina star in history, which is great, except she's been that for about four years. She has already had a number-one album and a number-one movie in the same grim week. She has handled the twin demands of movie and music-making with much greater success than her career role-model Madonna did before her film career was Swept Away. Yet there is a hollowness to J-Lo's work created by her avowed intention to establish herself as the biggest star in any medium she tackles. Such an approach requires an iron devotion to the lowest common denominator if maximum units are to be shifted, if that 27-person entourage is to be fed and watered, and if the LearJet pilot's retainer is to be paid.
If you want that life, you can't get it by making Terence Davies movies, or appearing in too much R-rated fare (roughly equivalent to a 15). Hence, Jenny from the Block prefers to linger in banal and safe territory, offering the likes of Angel Eyes, Enough, The Wedding Planner and her latest damp squib, Maid in Manhattan. When she busts out of convention and makes something like The Cell ("not for the little girls who buy my records"), the result is still somehow spineless and empty, as if anything too risky might be...well, too risky. Apart from Out of Sight, Blood and Wine and - for bum-lovers - Selena, there isn't a single Lopez movie that won't in 20 years' time look as dated as any Elvis movie.
This is a pity, because when she lets herself go - and not letting herself go is the secret of her success - she can be an electric screen presence, warm and soulful, imperishably sexy. But she prefers to be a brand name, an all-media superstar, the name above the title and the tour headliner, with the personalised perfume, the line of clothes and who knows what else.
With Affleck it's the other way round. His career has its interesting moments, but he registers on screen as no more than a callow, whey-faced pretty boy in need of a charisma transfusion. Thanks to his early success in the emetic Good Will Hunting, for which he and pal Matt Damon won the best screenplay Oscar, Affleck was crowned the ambassador from Miramax to the mainstream, was often seen in the grey area where the indies merge with the majors, and was able to make movies on both sides of the line.
Affleck and Damon are like a double act of promo men able to pass back and forth through the supposedly porous membrane separating the two zones. Actually, their success this summer in The Bourne Identity and The Sum of All Fears, coming so soon after their indie project for HBO, Project Greenlight, seems instead to suggest that nothing at all separates indie from major - that both are different strains of the same disease of blandness, and Affleck is just a symptom common to both.
Yet, from the pinnacle of the mainstream, where Lopez sits, Affleck must look as avant-garde as Stan Brakhage. At the point where her bland movies start showing diminishing returns, she needs to associate herself with people with one foot in the oddball camp. Marrying Affleck might be a sign that she is about to refine her image into something a little more adult-friendly. And if so, then love (or career hunger) is surely blind, because Affleck doesn't strike me as an adult. We shall see how long all this lasts after Daredevil tanks out next year. I hope she eats him alive.