Right now, somewhere between Florida and North Carolina, Donald Trump is saying excitedly to an aide, "I don't want your congratulations for being right on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but I really, very much knew this would happen. Donald Trump knew." Well, probably. As for you and I, there myriad appropriate reactions to the news: Clutching at your chest, sobbing that love is dead, writing in your memory journal, posting 15 tweets in 13 minutes, etc. You know what you shouldn't be doing today? Playing into the whole Angelina Jolie vs. Jennifer Aniston trope, which Donald Trump of course has done. So, yeah. Avoid it.
Back in 2006, on The Howard Stern Show, Trump rated Angelina Jolie a five out of 10, as unveiled by a BuzzFeed News investigation in February. (In 2007, on Larry King Live, Trump clarified: "Angelina Jolie is sort of amazing because everyone thinks she’s like this great beauty. And I’m not saying she’s an unattractive woman, but she’s not beauty, by any stretch of the imagination. In terms of beauty, she’s not a great beauty. She’s a nice-looking woman. She’s OK.")
OK. Let's put aside the flippant sexism of these comments for a second. Back to The Howard Stern Show. In 2006, when asked where Jennifer Aniston stood on the attractiveness scale in regard to Angelina, Trump said of Aniston: "I'd say she was a six or seven." For reasons unknown, Howard and co disagreed." Howard," Trump said, "my standards are very high. Who has higher standards than I? You know, the National Enquirer did a story that says Donald Trump had the best-looking women..."
This went on. And on. And on.
In the immediate aftermath of Angelina Jolie filing for divorce from Brad Pitt, a full decade (and then some!) after his divorce from Aniston, Twitter lit up with "smug Jennifer Aniston" commentary. The idea is that, having allegedly been a victim of the two's love affair during the filming of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Aniston is now getting the last laugh.
Let's get real: Jennifer Aniston is fine. She's great, actually. Not only is she laughing all the way to the bank, with an estimated net worth of more than $100 million, she's the spokesperson for Smart Water, Aveeno, and Emirates. She has her own production company and perfume line, and she won rave reviews for her raw performance in Cake. Oh, and she's married to Justin Theroux, and they look very happy and adorable together.
When Donald J. Trump has something to say about a much-hyped "love triangle," you should know that this is something you shouldn't be playing into ten years later. I can't speculate about Aniston's reaction to the news. I don't care about Aniston's reaction to this news. Jennifer Aniston is happy, and healthy, and doing great, thank you very much.
And then there's Angelina Jolie. As part of the Jen vs. Angie narrative, Jolie has been painted as a seductress — the wily woman who used her sexuality to "steal" Pitt away from sweet, down-to-earth Aniston. Here's Breitbart's hot take, for example.
Side note: Here's London newspaper City A.M.'s.
Whatever Jolie did or didn't do 12 freaking years ago, she is so much more than this. The woman is a powerhouse. A UN special envoy and longtime humanitarian, Jolie makes documentaries in her spare time, and is also raising six children, half of whom she adopted. Having filed for divorce this week, she'll now begin the incredibly painful task of adapting to her new normal, and helping her kids do the same. There has never been a good time to chide Jolie for allegedly falling in love with a married man — whatever happened, Pitt was as much a part of it as her — but for God's sake, now is the worst time of all.
However you choose to express your feelings about this today, remember this: In 2016, Jolie is not a villain, and Aniston is not a victim. In 2016, these are two smart, strong, infinitely powerful woman who have the world at their feet. Believing anything else is a strategy straight out Donald Trump's playbook.