The year of ‘Bennifer’: how the return of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck has become the most mediatic relationship of 2021

They are the undisputed protagonists of the social chronicle of 2021. The ones who have aroused the most fervent cries on the red carpets and the ones who have made the paparazzi work the most. And they had competition, since this year we have witnessed one of the most multi-million dollar divorces in history, that of Bill and Melinda Gates; of the separation of two global entertainment icons like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West; or the undisguised romance of the young monarchs of Latin music, Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro. But in an industry that seems definitively inclined to elevate as new protagonists of its pages natives of Generation Z like streamers Y tiktokers, the reconciliation of Jennifer Lopez, 52, and Ben Affleck, 49, vindicates the informative power of the stars of a classic Hollywood that refuses to give up.

A kiss captured by the cameras on June 14, during the pop star’s sister’s birthday celebration, confirmed what was already an open secret: the couple’s return 17 years after their breakup. The return of Bennifer (acronym with which they were baptized by the press) has been a breath of nostalgia, charismatic and hopeful, especially significant in a time of social and informational anxiety due to the pandemic. A shared emotion that symbolized like nobody else the reaction of the Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, who did not hesitate to stop a live interview to celebrate with shouts and expletives the confirmation of the news. The data corroborates their enthusiasm: the search “jennifer lopez ben affleck” on Google brings up to 17 million results in the last year alone, on Instagram there are more than thirty fan profiles dedicated to the couple and the hashtag #Bennifer has been shared in about 50 thousand publications.

As in so many other couples, it was the ravages of confinement that placed the artist and the interpreter in the ideal sentimental situation for their reunion. Affleck broke up with his last girlfriend, the Spanish-Cuban actress Ana de Armas, last January; And just three months later, JLo confirmed her separation from former baseball player Álex Rodríguez, after four years of relationship and two weddings postponed because, they alleged, of the health crisis. With the intention of comforting themselves after failed romances and taking advantage of their resilient friendship, this past spring they were seen together in their respective homes and even on getaways across the United States, igniting the spark of their new relationship.

The first advent of Bennifer It took place between 2002 and 2004, withstanding media scrutiny that is still the subject of analysis today. They met on the set of the failed comedy a dangerous relationship, just as the artist’s second marriage to choreographer Cris Judd was coming to an end, and before the public could see the film they had already announced their engagement. The rise of the yellow press together with the hypertrophied displays of affection and the ostentation of privileges of the couple, with the video clip of the song Jenny from the block As a sublimation of its public projection, it ended up generating a creature of a dramatic magnitude impossible to control.

“It just so happened that we were together when the tabloid tabloids were born and it was too much pressure,” Lopez confessed. to the magazine People in 2016. “People were very mean to her: sexist and racist,” Affleck added. They blamed the persecution of the media for both the postponement of their marriage and the definitive end of their relationship, paying for the broken dishes of a trend that a few months later would end up producing stars. to this like Paris Hilton or Jessica Simpson. Without denying the morbid fascination that a reconciliation after years of distance can arouse, the purpose of amendment by the press and readers is another of the forces that converge in this phenomenon of 2021. “Bennifer It’s not just a chance for Lopez and Affleck to rekindle a romance by being older and wiser, it’s also a chance for the rest of us to let them be happy now,” says journalist Meredith Blake in Los Angeles Times, attributing the current excitement to repentance for past sins.

Since their separation, the trajectories of Lopez and Affleck have followed paths full of parallels. Both have passed through the altar (with singer Marc Anthony and actress Jennifer Garner, respectively), have been parents (she is the mother of twins and he has three children) and have been divorced. But, above all, they have seen how the same public opinion that censored their original success (the “neighborhood” diva and the “petulant idiot” actor) now applauds the consolidation of the Bronx as a Latin totem worthy of conquering the stage of the Super Bowl; and the legitimization, in front of and behind the camera, of an Affleck who won the Oscar for best film for Argo.

The scope of their new romance is also symptomatic of the social perpetuation of the myth of eternal love, so fueled by the entertainment industry itself. As if from the protagonists of a romantic drama made in Hollywood is involved, the couple stands as proof that two people destined to be together will manage to overcome the necessary obstacles in order to meet. A vision shared by the actor himself, who in an interview with the Wall Street Journal he confessed “lucky” for the unexpected opportunity that had arisen. “I have benefited from second chances and I am aware that other people do not even have a first,” he said. At a time when the seventh art industry seems committed to telling us the same story over and over again, few remakes most interesting and enjoyable we can find on the screens that this Bennifer 2.0.

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The year of ‘Bennifer’: how the return of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck has become the most mediatic relationship of 2021

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