Why Babbling Over Bennifer Is Bad

broken heart

When I was a teenage girl, I was obsessed with pop culture.

I knew all the trends, read all the magazines and updated my Myspace and Facebook accounts religiously. But most importantly (or so I thought at the time), I knew who was dating who in Hollywood.

Looking back, I see what my parents meant when they said, “You’re an expert in useless information.” Granted, I now work at a job where I actually need to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in pop culture, but my knowledge of celebrity birthdays turned out to be pretty useless after all.

But some recent articles popping up in my news feed actually brought me back to my former obsession.

I’m talking about Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s rekindled romance.

Now before you click away or scroll down or close this tab, let me just preface this by stating that I’m not about to give my opinions on the couple. Because truly, it’s none of my business what they are or aren’t doing with their relationship. More importantly, I don’t actually care.

However, I do care about how the media has treated Lopez and Affleck’s ex-wife, Jennifer Garner.

I remember when Lopez and Affleck split the first time around. I remember the media hype and the fans sobbing over the end of “Bennifer.” But I also remember how they treated Jennifer Garner when she and Affleck began dating shortly after.

Allow me to summarize: They weren’t nice.

It’s been a common trend for years to pit women in Hollywood against each other. Nearly everyone remembers (or at least has heard of since) how Eddie Fisher left wife Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor. The Prince Charles affair with Camilla Parker Bowles took place in the 90s. The media destroyed Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston over the Brad Pitt debacle. I personally couldn’t get enough of the Hilary-Duff-Lindsay-Lohan-Aaron-Carter love triangle in the early 2000s. And then everyone I knew lost their collective minds when Beyoncé released “Lemonade” revealing that the reason her sister, Solange Knowles, attacked her husband, Jay-Z, in an elevator was because Jay-Z got caught cheating on Beyoncé.

But what’s sad is that the media is still doing it. So often, the narrative is a guy choosing between two women, or two women fighting over one guy. The narrative takes on a transactional quality: It’s not about love or commitment, but possession and status. Beyond how they’ve recently portrayed Garner and Lopez (showing side-by-side comparison photos and printing articles about what Garner thinks of Affleck’s new relationship status), the media has a history of presenting the women of Hollywood as nothing more than mere objects for men to pick from.

It’s not healthy. And it’s something we all need to be aware of.

I remember talking about some of the aforementioned love triangles with my mom. And I remember that because of the way the media portrayed those women—as objects rather than people—we would say some pretty harsh words about those women!

But mostly, I remember how the articles I read and discussions I had taught me that celebrities somehow weren’t human beings. That because they were on a big screen, I could offer up my own commentary on a person as readily as I would on the latest iPhone.

I didn’t even know these people, let alone know if the information was accurate, and there I was gossiping up a storm anyway. And the Bible has some pretty clear words about that:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 [ESV]

Perhaps we aren’t all guilty of gossiping (although if you’re reposting those types of articles on social media, you might as well be). But it’s important for us to realize how the discussion surrounding these topics affects our attitudes towards them.

So parents, if you hear your teen talking about the Olivia Rodrigo, Sabrina Carpenter, Joshua Bassett relationship drama (because that’s yet another love triangle going on), take a moment to see how your teen feels about it and how they’re processing the media’s portrayal of these young performers. Remind them that even if someone’s lifestyle is sinful, that that person is still created by God, and that we shouldn’t gossip about them.

The media is still going to print the negative stories. The articles will still present celebrities as objects rather than people. And the world will still gossip about them. But as Christians, we don’t have to join in.

We can choose to show love by not joining the discussion and fueling the criticism. We can be aware without participating in the jokes. And we can teach our kids—and perhaps even ourselves—that sometimes the best way to respond to a negative news story is to not respond.

brio magazine cover

(If your teens are like me and love reading magazines, consider getting them a subscription to Brio, Focus on the Family’s magazine for teenage girls. Each issue includes exciting, vivacious, faith-based articles, plus DIY, music and entertainment features. And as an added bonus, parents will receive a free discussion guide when they sign their girls up.)

Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

8 Responses

  1. -This is an immensely insightful and very appreciated post. I can only imagine it sells, but 1) I also wonder how many celebrities unnecessarily make and break relationships just for publicity, and 2) I suppose it’s also popular as a distraction from various worldwide ills like war violence, human-rights issues, climate change, and our ongoing coronavirus struggle, kind of like how Tiger King briefly took over the public consciousness shortly after the pandemic started.

    1. -I find it interesting how this is largely an issue with American celebrities. I’ve been getting more into British media recently and the amount of celebrity drama seems significantly lower. I do wonder why that is.

  2. -Tried several times to buy brio. Your website doesn’t do international orders or at least to nz, and New Zealand focus on family website doesn’t sell it. Tried contacting support and didn’t really get an answer that helped.

  3. -Why would you include a weblink to an US Weekly celebrity gossip story about Olivia Rodrigo’s love triangle in a blog post decrying these exact sorts of dehumanizing articles? Is it OK to treat their lives as content fodder or spectacle in this case? I’m confused.

    1. -That’s a fair question, Alex. We typically link to the news stories that we report on so that readers can check out the original source material if they’d like to do so. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily imply our endorsement. Blessings to you!

    2. -It’s called citing sources. You should not just be taking Plugged In’s word that an article says what they say it does. They’re are doing the right thing by citing and linking the article in question so that anyone who wants to can read it for themselves and make up their own minds about it. It’s refreshingly honest considering how the internet usually works.

  4. – I remember when Tiger Woods and his wife had marital issues, and my friend was so disappointed that they hadn’t tried working things out with a counselor. But I thought, ‘Who can famous people TRUST not to air their dirty laundry in public?’ People who may be sworn to confidentiality may be lured to break that trust for a book deal or (temporary) fame & imagined status. Their housekeeper/hairdresser/accountant/extended family might be the one who spills their secrets.

    I feel sorry for the celebrities of society because they really can’t be sure who is true, and who is just trying to be almost famous.