Has so many months locked away in their homes made celebrities (and the general public now I think of it) forget how to behave in public?
I’m not talking about throwing phones or getting in and out of cars without wearing their underpants, I’m talking about the stomach-churning displays of affection on the red carpet lately.
Recently, I had the utter misfortune of being told about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez making their red carpet debut as a (newly reunited) couple in Venice. Firstly, I didn’t even realise it was 2001 anymore, but who keeps track of time during a pandemic anyway?
Imagine, if you will, the most staged red carpet moment you can. Ben gets out of the car, stops some bloke from opening JLo’s door and then stands and poses alone for a minute.
Then, as if they are unveiling an undiscovered Michelangelo fresco, Jen’s door is opened for her to emerge, wave, pose . . . Red carpets are ridiculous at the best of times, but this was comically so. I meant to google whether one of them is flogging some dreadful film or song or fragrance at Chemist Warehouse to warrant such a choreographed arrival, but then I remembered I don’t care so I carried on watching this fiasco through my fingers.
Some poor publicist ushered the pair along the red rug, gesturing for them to stop here and there to pose for all the flashbulbs going off. Seems legit, I have been on the other side of the red rope enough times to recognise this odd celebrity tradition the world has mysteriously embraced.
Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in Scenes From a Marriage, a more PG version of their red carpet appearance.Credit:HBO
But then things took a turn for the bizarre. For reasons only known to Ben and JLo, they began pashing on like teenagers at a party after three Bacardi Breezers. Ben’s hands were all over Jen’s butt; at one point I am quite certain he nibbled her ear. I checked the time to make sure I hadn’t accidentally turned on late night SBS but, no, it was still morning.
The same colleague who brought this to my attention then made me watch a video of Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaacs on the red carpet.
If you aren’t familiar with Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaacs they are in some film together and in relationships with other people. Indeed, Chastain was at pains to point out later that they are just friends. Could have fooled me! These “co-stars” and “friends” made Bennifer look positively PG in their marketing performance/red carpet appearance.
As they posed cosily for the cameras Oscar takes Jessica’s arm and caresses it. ‘How sweet’, I hear you say. No. He caressed it in a manner that is wholly inappropriate for the public. He caressed it like he wanted to eat it. And then… he kind of did. He went on to kiss her bicep (weird), her shoulder (still weird but less so) and then I am pretty sure he went for the armpit.
I know it is hard to sell movie tickets these days with streaming and everything but must one go to the length of kissing the armpit of a friend from work to make a buck?
I’m not a puritan by any stretch of the imagination, I love and romance and cuteness, but what I don’t love is these extremely peculiar PDAs that are gripping the celebrity world. It’s all so fake and forced and staged, and I don’t want to see someone kissing someone’s armpit, not on the red carpet, not ever.
I don’t want to see Baffleck caress JLo’s bum like he owns her. Send a tweet saying you’re back together then caress each other’s butts in the privacy of your own home. Hell, you don’t even have to tweet it, just caress butts in private.
Both moments were shared widely on social media, Ben and Jen because in these grim days of COVID everyone is obsessed with them being back together – because when they were last together Jenny from the Block was releasing sick tunes and no one had heard of coronavirus. Oscar and Jessica because, well, I assumed because it was so weird. But apparently social media was in meltdown over how hot it was.
Maybe celebrities have forgotten how to behave in public post-lockdown, maybe people have forgotten their dignity after long months of not being able to get a haircut. Maybe being able to finally remove one’s mask has created an unfamiliar cool breeze, and they are just grabbing the nearest thing to replace it (even an armpit in some extreme circumstances). Or maybe it’s just the age-old cheap publicity stunt to hype a movie.
I don’t know, but much like meggings (man leggings for the uninitiated), I sincerely hope this isn’t a trend that takes off. No one needs to see that.
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