Brad and Angelina’s marriage is over: can we kill Team Jolie v Team Jen feud, too?

With the news Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are filing for divorce, the internet has revived an early 2000s rivalry but 11 years later, its looking tired and sexist

Its Tuesday afternoon and the current status of the internet is hyperventilating. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are filing for divorce. Yep, Brangelina is over and people are going brananas but the spotlight isnt Brad or Angie or even Shiloh. No, its on Jennifer Aniston. Again.

Its been 11 years since the two split, and yet the Brangelina breakup has caused ripple effects all over social media, with memes and gifs of an ecstatic Aniston flooding Twitter and Facebook. Offline there is similar excitement. Hairdressers are full of women demanding a Rachel to pledge solidarity for Jen. Offices are empty as people run out to try and find that Team Jolie shirt theyre pretty sure is still in their closet. In lower Manhattan I observed one woman sobbing outside Goodwill. I knew I shouldnt have donated my Team Jolie shirt away last year she said, between tears.

I may be exaggerating slightly but only slightly. People really, really care about the supposed Jolie v Jen rivalry. Indeed this largely fictional feud lasted longer than Brad Pitts marriage to Aniston and Jolie combined. But why?

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Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston in the drama-free days of the year 2000. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/AP

First, imagine that were back in the 90s (which shouldnt be too difficult since there is a Clinton running for president and kids running for Pokmon). In the 90s, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie represented two poles of womanness. Aniston was in every living room in the country Americas sweetheart, the girl next door, everyones Friend. Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie was known for being a Bad Girl. Or, as the Mirror delightfully put it: a blood-smeared druggie. She famously married Jonny Lee Miller wearing a white T-Shirt with his name smeared on it in blood. A few years later Jolie dated a woman having the nerve to do so unapologetically before bisexuality became trendy.

While Angelina Jolie moved more into the mainstream in the early 2000s, she was still very much known for her edgy past. So when Brad Pitt ended his five-year marriage with Jennifer Aniston in 2005, the media were quick to turn the story into a familiar narrative of Wronged Woman v Evil Seductress. The story became less about Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie and more about different stereotypes of women. You were either a good girl or a bad girl. A Jen or a Jolie. Who you supported said something about who you were.

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It’s happening pic.twitter.com/s71aYUK6lk

Which is why the Team Jolie/Team Aniston T-shirts created by LA boutique Kitson in 2005 flew off the shelf. They werent so much a fashion statement as a statement about their wearer. And most people, it seemed, wanted to tell the world they were a Jen. The Team Aniston shirts sold 25 times faster than Team Jolie to begin with. The popularity of the Team T-shirts helped fuel the rivalry. Taking it out of the gossip mags and into peoples closets. Making it part of popular culture.

Over the years the rivalry remained a media mainstay because it was a convenient way to talk about what a woman should and shouldnt be. Jennifer was a barren spinster, poor Jen! Jolie, again, was the polar opposite. A fertile earth mother. Were starting to like Angelina Jolie now! Shes changed!

But everything must end. The clock has finally run out on this story. After all, its not the 90s any more: its a female Clinton running for president and the Pokmon are in augmented reality. Whats more, its no longer so easy or acceptable to talk about Jolie and Aniston in terms of tropes.

Jolie has spent years working with the United Nations, becoming an important advocate for refugees. Aniston is no longer poor Jen. Shes married to Justin Theroux and has had <a draggable=”true” href=”https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/feb/22/cake-jennifer-aniston-review-soggy-bottomed” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>a successful movie career. In short, theyre both incredibly talented women who are a lot more than their wombs and their men. Of course, they always were, its just that its no longer so easy for the media to pigeonhole them.

Whats more, Id like to think it no longer makes much sense for the media to pit women against each other in this tired, sexist way any more. The popularity of TV shows like Broad Cityand the Beyoncfication of feminismhas been a wake-up call to the media that women arent just interested in whether the girl is going to get the guy they want to see female friendships and solidarity. So I suggest we take this opportunity to end the Jolie/Jen rivalry once and for all.

Indeed, Im all up for a modern plot twist. What do you reckon? A Mrs and Mrs Smith movie, anyone?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/20/jennifer-anniston-brad-pitt-angelina-jolie-feud-rivalry-sexist

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