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Bennifer Rebooted

There's something rather different about this time around. Is this pop culture comfort food providing reassurance and familiarity after five years of political insanity, general cultural nastiness and, of course, social distancing?

Brangelina. Kimye. Gyllenspoon. Each pairing is yet another note in the long, sad dirge of failed Hollywood romances. Blending famous monikers has been a showbiz tradition for decades, even if most of these fusions fizzle out rather quickly. But back in the early 2000s, there was one couple whose tumultuous affair and melded nickname towered above the rest, all but consuming the tabloid press for three whole years, until their abrupt, dramatic breakup just days before their planned wedding. And now, 17 years later, those same not-so-young-any-more lovers have surprised the world and delighted the media by getting back together.

That’s right: like the cicadas, Bennifer has risen again. First up, there was a New York Post item in April reporting that the two had been observed entering a restaurant in West Hollywood with “arms wrapped around each other”. A few days later, Affleck was spotted making an early-morning departure from Lopez’s LA home. In May, multiple outlets broke the news that the couple had spent a weekend at a resort in Montana. Then celebrity mag US Weekly made it semi-official with a quote from an anonymous source: “Jen and Ben are both very happy with each [other] and excited to see where the relationship goes.”

How come, this time around, so many are fascinated by such an old-school romance: the re-pairing of a 48-year-old former Batman and a 51-year-old one-time Fly Girl? And not just fascinated, but cheering them on in ways they didn’t always do during the couple’s first fling.

Is it possible there’s something more meaningful going on here than just wistful pining. It seems that after the last five years of political insanity and general cultural nastiness – not to mention more than a year of social distancing – the world is now hankering for some normality. It’s craving pop culture comfort food. And by reuniting after all this time, Affleck and Lopez are serving up a great big dollop of reassurance and familiarity. Who wouldn’t want to take a bite out of that?



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