How Jennifer Garner Went Full “Minivan Majority”
March 21, 2016 10:33 PM   Subscribe

As Matt Damon explained in The Guardian, “Ben’s wife, Jennifer Garner, sells a shitload of magazines in the midwest. Magazines that — Ben explained this to me — you and I have never heard of, but that appeal to the mom in the midwest, who for some reason identifies with Jennifer and wants to know what she’s doing as a mom.”
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur (143 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
The article gives a very concise summary of what could be called its thesis towards the end, for anyone curious:

Stars maintain their status as stars by acting out ideologies and understandings of the world that feel right. Amidst the adulation of celebrities like Lena Dunham, Kim Kardashian, Amy Schumer, and Rihanna, Garner’s steady popularity is a reminder of the the inclination, on the part of sizable part of the population, towards a more conservative understanding of women’s roles and actions.

This piece is interesting; it's not just breezy gossip or something as one-dimensionally tendentious as character assassination or untempered celebration. It's refreshing to see this kind of thoughtful work on female celebrity, in a more general sense as well.
posted by clockzero at 11:01 PM on March 21, 2016 [33 favorites]


This article doesn't explain what happened to her career. Why in the hell is she in Miracles From Heaven?
posted by rdr at 11:03 PM on March 21, 2016 [15 favorites]


The part about her sacrificing her own self-interest by continuing to live with Affleck for the sake of his movie? I know nothing about her or their relationship but I reckon this quote from earlier in the article, regarding her first divorce, sums it up more cleanly:

Garner was ashamed of the divorce — and worried about how it would affect her image

I bet they'll stay "together" until one or both of them has a new relationship narrative to slide into, and/or the kids have grown up a bit more, because it's just the easiest thing to do on a variety of levels.
posted by mantecol at 11:14 PM on March 21, 2016


An “anonymous source” (read: a publicist) informed E! that “(Affleck and Garner) will continue to live in the house together and have no plans to change that,” adding, “They are in a really good place right now. A lot of the dust has settled and they have been accustomed to their new life, which is separate but together in a lot of ways.”

Was this...supposed to sound like the end of Gone Girl?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:16 PM on March 21, 2016 [75 favorites]


Oh, and let me add this mildly creepy and wonderful table of dick-measurers and Garner, from about the time she met Affleck. Many of the old Dinner for Fives are amazing. The fact that the only time she really clears space in the conversation for herself is to THANK him is kind of mindblowing.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:20 PM on March 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


This piece is interesting; it's not just breezy gossip or something as one-dimensionally tendentious as character assassination or untempered celebration. It's refreshing to see this kind of thoughtful work on female celebrity, in a more general sense as well.

This is Anne Helen Petersen's M.O. She wrote a book, based on her doctorate (doctorate!) work, which gives the same treatment to classic Hollywood celebrities. I think her hiring at Buzzfeed is part of their 5% totally-not-clickbait initiative. Most of her writing for that site makes for good reading, if you're interested in academic examination of the the nature of celebrity. She also did an episode of the Longform podcast which is worth a listen.
posted by strangecargo at 11:28 PM on March 21, 2016 [56 favorites]


This article doesn't explain what happened to her career. Why in the hell is she in Miracles From Heaven?

Strategically speaking, it sounds like she's making an excellent career move.

What big movies had she made before? Electra and Daredevil were both big money losing flops. Miracles From Heaven just opened and it is already profitable. According to IMDB she's filming three more movies this year, all similarly lower budget, but likely to be reasonably profitable. And she's doing the kinds of rolls that don't immediately disappear when an actress ages (an unfortunate fact of the sexist shallowness of Hollywood).

Her career is sounding quite promising and likely to be long-lived.
posted by eye of newt at 11:29 PM on March 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: a wonderful table of dick-measurers.
posted by biffa at 11:49 PM on March 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


I wonder if Damon could possibly be more patronizing in that quote. I think he could if he really pushed for it.

Excellent piece by the consistently excellent Petersen.
posted by thesmallmachine at 12:19 AM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


thesmallmachine: AHP cut him off, in The Guardian he continues "As a result of that, there are always five cars outside their house."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:02 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


This article doesn't explain what happened to her career.

The article kindof omits the relevant fact that J-Garn just isn't a very ummm compelling actor.
posted by nom de poop at 1:15 AM on March 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


This article doesn't explain what happened to her career.
Garner’s career could survive bombs like Elektra and Catch & Release; wan, charisma-less rom-coms like Ghosts of Girlfriend Past; and even entire years without a film in theaters, but only if she had another compelling narrative — in her case, domesticity and motherhood — to engage fans.
Her career essentially has gone through three major shifts: big TV star to fairly big movie star (never an A-lister, but a solid B) to magazine megastar. Jennifer Aniston's career took a similar trajectory, but she kept more of a hand in on the movie side.
posted by Etrigan at 2:19 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


That Butter movie her production company did is really, really bad. The sentimental exterior of the movie has too many holes to hide the contempt for the Midwest lurking underneath.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 2:24 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hm. Am I the only one to find the "good [Garner] girls" stuff...squicky?
posted by maxwelton at 2:37 AM on March 22, 2016 [18 favorites]


Hm. Am I the only one to find the "good [Garner] girls" stuff...squicky?

I think it's creepy and infantilizing. Will that do?
posted by thelonius at 2:44 AM on March 22, 2016 [30 favorites]


Hm. Am I the only one to find the "good [Garner] girls" stuff...squicky?

No, no you are not. I too had an uncomfortable feeling reading it. I'll try to be charitable though: she grew up in a conservative environment and has managed to forge a successful career in Hollywood without throwing her principles out the window. I think that's worth something, and it means that while I normally gleefully ignore celebrities and pooh-pooh the lot as vacuous nincompoops, I can sorta feel something like respect for JG.

Also Petersen's writing is excellent. I'll read about celebrities if it's coming from her. (Thanks strangecargo!)
posted by iffthen at 3:15 AM on March 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think I prefer my faded movie stars to buy islands and live out incredibly eccentric lives while avoiding publicity. It feels healthier, somehow, to use one's powers to explore the libertine.

The anthropology of this particular tribe, however, seems artificial and sterile and just plain dull.
posted by Devonian at 3:20 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also, Full Minivan Majority sounds like the worst/best name for a self-hating Midwest emo-revival band ever.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:38 AM on March 22, 2016 [30 favorites]


I am definitely not part of the "minivan majority" but I still love Jennifer Garner and I wish the best for her. Her turn to focusing on motherhood and picking a role here and there isn't a surprise to me. As charming of a presence on screen as I find her to be, I always thought it was pretty clear that superstardom & all of the Hollywood stuff wasn't really anything she wanted. Her background is conservative. She's conservative. She just does what she does, but seems genuine about it.

Her movie record hasn't been the best, no, but I do feel like she's picking parts she finds interesting (even if the movies are failures). She seems to be in control of her career and what she wants to do with it. I find it hard to fault her for that.
posted by darksong at 3:45 AM on March 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Well that was an enraging level of condescending, contemptuous coastal provincialism by the author (and Matt Damon).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:53 AM on March 22, 2016 [27 favorites]


This is like the third long form article I've read on Buzzfeed and the third time I've been impressed. It's definitely making me reflect on my personal reaction to Garner. I don't feel that the article is condescending. I think that part of it is me projecting my own condescension. (except for Matt Damon, his quote is definitely condescending using "Midwestern" as a veiled insult)

My reflex is to get all judge-y, but... why? She's living a life that's clearly working for her. To the author's point, she doesn't fit any of the molds that most of her contemporaries inhabit and... so what? It's not my jam but she's found a niche that fits her life. It's condescending if I read "conservative" as a negative thing but that's on me. I think the author has created a pretty thoughtful essay.

(Also, this line is great "others, like Meryl Streep, engage in an entirely different genus of non-celebrity stardom, in which their popularity is based almost entirely on actual performances.")
posted by like_neon at 4:02 AM on March 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


rdr: "This article doesn't explain what happened to her career. Why in the hell is she in Miracles From Heaven?"

She's forty-three years old which by Hollywood rules means she's almost twenty years too old to play Leonardo DiCaprio's wife. I doubt that she's getting bombarded with offers.
posted by octothorpe at 4:06 AM on March 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


On the one hand, I think Anne Helen Petersen is smart as hell about Hollywood and gender and stuff. On the other hand, this one made me a little uncomfortable. It's not really my business how Jennifer Garner deals with her husband's infidelity or gambling addiction. I also think that there are not a lot of good options for women in Hollywood in their 40s, and I'm not going to judge her for figuring out a path that works for her. I doubt we would be besties, but that's true of a lot of people I know in real life. She's in a pretty impossible situation, and she seems to be dealing with it in a way that works for her.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:55 AM on March 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


Jennifer Garner might be our most old-fashioned film star. But that doesn’t mean she’s not indicative of the values and attitudes that will structure, inspire, and police women’s behavior in the years to come.

For some values of "old-fashioned film star". See Devonian's libertine ideal. Maybe a comma between old-fashioned and film would help.
posted by timdiggerm at 4:57 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think I prefer my faded movie stars to buy islands and live out incredibly eccentric lives while avoiding publicity. It feels healthier, somehow, to use one's powers to explore the libertine.

It seems weird to describe a 43 year old, who is in four movies coming out this year, as faded.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:57 AM on March 22, 2016 [25 favorites]


Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip, whom Anne Helen Peterson quotes, has been tracking Garner's career strategy for years now (and drawing the Gone Girl comparisons about her marriage). If you like this more critical, strategy-focused analysis of Hollywood and celebrity, I can't recommend Lainey Gossip enough (it has a much more casual tone than this article but explores what celebrity means through the lenses of race and gender a lot).

One interesting tension between AHP's analysis and Lui's is that Lui views Garner's recent Vanity Fair article as much more of an intentional revenge torpedo of Affleck's image and less of a move to protect her family.
posted by sallybrown at 5:06 AM on March 22, 2016 [19 favorites]


Miracles From Heaven made 13 mill in its opening weekend, and is poised to play counterprogramming to a grim dark super hero blockbuster over Easter. I think you'll see solid performance. Definitely recouping its budget and probably earning a good bit on top. Like the article mentions, it also has VOD revenue.
posted by codacorolla at 5:21 AM on March 22, 2016


Everyone loved 13 going on 30, right? I did
posted by asockpuppet at 5:33 AM on March 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


From what I've heard, Miracles from Heaven is going to make a lot of money. It has a built-in audience that goes to see Christian movies, plus it has crossover potential because of Garner and because it's well made. It's certainly not my thing, but I think it will be very successful.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:43 AM on March 22, 2016


According to J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner is “a beautiful girl with an ugly girl’s personality.”

What an absolutely charming way to talk about your colleagues in public.
posted by Evstar at 5:58 AM on March 22, 2016 [66 favorites]


Also, Full Minivan Majority sounds like the worst/best name for a self-hating Midwest emo-revival band ever.

Also the name of Robert Pollard's new solo album.
posted by echocollate at 6:04 AM on March 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


Apropos of nothing, Alias needed more Greg Grunberg. Too bad JJ abandoned the show for LOST--the whole Rambaldi thing could have been cooler than it ended up.

But more to the point--Garner always struck me as very intelligent. She seems to have figured out a way to operate in the limelight without self destructing, so good for her.

Also, Mark Ruffalo and Andy Serkis did the Thriller dance in 13 Going On 30, so there's that.
posted by tehjoel at 6:04 AM on March 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


As a midwesterner, I'm still wondering what are all those magazines that no one has ever heard of.
posted by slogger at 6:20 AM on March 22, 2016 [16 favorites]


it didn’t matter if Butter (2012) — an Election-like take on butter sculpting in the Midwest and the first and only film to be released by Garner’s production company — went straight to VOD.
...
That Butter movie her production company did is really, really bad. The sentimental exterior of the movie has too many holes to hide the contempt for the Midwest lurking underneath.

That's a shame, because when I read that line in the article, I was like "Holy fuck this is one of the greatest plotlines I've ever heard of" and I was considering checking it out. Ah, well. As far as butter-sculpting goes, I guess they can't all be Ted Cruz tweets.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:24 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Everyone loved 13 going on 30, right? I did

Yes, this one really showcases Garner's appeal, the humanity and vulnerability she naturally projects, which was also the core of her fame-making performance on Alias. Not so much the Big-esque "child's personality in an adult body" element but more the "what if you woke up to discover you had somehow grown up to be a terrible person without meaning to?" aspect.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:27 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


As a midwesterner, I'm still wondering what are all those magazines that no one has ever heard of.

Yeah I'm genuinely curious if there's actually a magazine that the rest of the country (including myself) hasn't heard of or if this is just Matt Damon saying "Red...Book? What on earth is that?"
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:30 AM on March 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


I thought that it was a pretty even-handed article, given that Garner seems to be plugged into the Christian film industry, which is not just conservative but heavily targeted toward American evangelicals, mostly white and heterosexual (or closeted). Petersen is describing Garner's doing so as a deliberate move on her part and not the desperate retrenchment of a fading star, which seems to be the career path of a lot of formerly big stars who end up in those films (see: Nicolas Cage). The deprecatory quote from Damon about "magazines in the midwest" (I haven't been to either coast in some time, but I'd be willing to bet that their supermarkets still have Us and Star, among others) is really not a great way to frame this article. In general, Petersen's output for BuzzFeed is both worth reading and streets ahead of BuzzFeed's usual promotion of the type of celeb publicity that Petersen criticizes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:34 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Red...Book? What on earth is that?"

I dunno. As a 30-something without kids in the Midwest, going through the checkout line, I'm always baffled by the array of "women's magazines" there and how few of them have any real associations in my head. Clearly someone buys them, but I don't know who, and I can't picture it being me.
posted by Sequence at 6:34 AM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


they got all them magazines out theah, ma, it's like Vainy Fair and Cosmopolis and i think theah's one called like Glammah? I mean, as magazines go, I thought theah was just Parade, but these people, they got a whole magazine subcultchah
posted by Greg Nog at 6:35 AM on March 22, 2016 [37 favorites]


I thought that it was a pretty even-handed article, given that Garner seems to be plugged into the Christian film industry, which is not just conservative but heavily targeted toward American evangelicals, mostly white and heterosexual (or closeted).

It's a pretty interesting phenomenon how larger studios saw the serious profitability of the cheaply produced third-rate Kirk Cameron led productions and headed straight for the money. There's a whole host of Christian themed stuff coming out around Easter.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:38 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I dunno. As a 30-something without kids in the Midwest, going through the checkout line, I'm always baffled by the array of "women's magazines" there and how few of them have any real associations in my head. Clearly someone buys them, but I don't know who, and I can't picture it being me.

No kidding.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:38 AM on March 22, 2016


Old fashioned, good ole America!
Jennifer Garner's grammar
posted by DigDoug at 6:40 AM on March 22, 2016


those magazines that no one has ever heard of.

I'm guessing by "no one" he means "people who don't ever have to go to grocery stores themselves".
posted by jeather at 6:43 AM on March 22, 2016 [37 favorites]


If you live in a place that has supermarkets, count the magazines by the checkout counter some time. They all look basically the same, but holy crap are there are a ton of them. And odds are that at least some are different in the next lane over. And that's not even what's in the magazine section, if your supermarket still has one of those.
posted by Etrigan at 6:45 AM on March 22, 2016


The deprecatory quote from Damon about "magazines in the midwest" (I haven't been to either coast in some time, but I'd be willing to bet that their supermarkets still have Us and Star, among others)

Well sure, but when's the last time Matt Damon was in a supermarket? He reads - well, I don't know, I'm not cool enough to know what magazines he reads but I'm thinking something like Interview back before people like me had heard of it.
posted by Naberius at 6:53 AM on March 22, 2016


Plenty of actors have had affairs without ending up with a lasting reputation as a total asshole, but it's clearly sticking to Ben Affleck . . . his recent roles have been fantastic for his career but have had a kind of unfortunate interaction with his image. I mean, remember how Gone Girl, the book, had all that stuff in it about how the male lead just looks like an asshole, and then when Affleck got the part there was instant consensus that he was PERFECT for it? And when you pit Batman against Superman, it becomes impossible to ignore the fact that one of their primary distinguishing features is that Batman is a giant self-pitying whiny baby and Superman isn't.

That Vanity Fair article, OH BOY. I think I agree with Elaine Lui that Jennifer Garner is actually smilingly grinding Ben Affleck's image into a fine powder. You have to know what you're doing when you have a brave, resilient interview with the biggest glossiest magazine and tell them "Sure, I lost the dream of dancing with my husband at my daughter's wedding, but . . ." (YES, THAT IS A DIRECT QUOTE.)
posted by ostro at 6:54 AM on March 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


Matt Damon doesn't say "no one", he says "you and I haven't heard of", speaking to a British journalist. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people aren't familiar with Woman's Day, Allure or Family Circle, which sell in absolute millions every month, but are for reasons of the deeply pervasive misogyny of modern society, not something that everyone feels like they should be aware of, and therefore an American man and a British journalist might reasonably never have heard of them.
posted by Kattullus at 6:57 AM on March 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


i really disliked this article. it comes off as sneering and insulting. the writing was good, but the focus was really weird - in an almost women hating women to serve feminism sort of way. i sort of wonder if this author knows that she'll be a 43 year old woman some day too.
posted by nadawi at 7:08 AM on March 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


The full context/quote from Matt Damon is about the role of celebrity in marriage:

"Damon's Argentinian wife was a bartender in Miami when they met 10 years ago.
""I think marrying somebody who's not a celebrity, it just takes a lot of the pressure off." His old friend Ben Affleck hasn't been quite so lucky. "Ben's wife, Jennifer Garner, she sells a shitload of magazines in the midwest. Magazines that – Ben explained this to me – you and I have never heard of, but that appeal to a mom in the midwest, who for some reason identifies with Jennifer and wants to know what she's doing as a mom. As a result of that, there are always five cars outside their house.""
posted by aabbbiee at 7:09 AM on March 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


men always have such good sounding reasons for why they can't stand a successful wife...
posted by nadawi at 7:12 AM on March 22, 2016 [42 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you can be very successful and still not be a celebrity. Amal Clooney, for example.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:15 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Since we're talking celebrity writing...

Maybe it's because I am familiar with her tone and style from her work on The Social (where I've never seen Lainey pull a punch, whether she states her opinion directly or in the backhanded compliment style she admires in Garner), but to me the Lainey Gossip article had everything I thought the Petersen article lacked. Namely, a single point of view that was argued consistently and compellingly all the way through.

Petersen's article takes more of a chronological arc (a lot of the info from the article can be found in the body of Garner's wikipedia entry), pulling in other people's opinions here and there, oscillating between them without ever tying all the threads together. I'd call it less thoughtful and more confused. Like, does she think Garner was and still is playing second fiddle for Affleck's sake, or does she see Garner as empowered and finally doing what she wants to do? You can find both perspectives in the article. Lui says exactly where she stands on that matter, right up front. (After almost 9 months of divorce drama, nanny drama, Ben’s bullsh-t, she’s decided that this will be the weekend she tells the industry, and the pop culture-consuming public, that she’s ready for a reinvention.)

Celebrity gossip may be fluffier than other things you could choose to write opinion pieces on, but the same rules of good writing apply. Know what you're trying to say before you start writing. Cut out all the items that don't contribute to the thrust of your argument. We're here to read your opinion--if we wanted facts we'd go to Wikipedia.

Given that Petersen referenced multiple Lainey Gossip articles--including a reference in the headline, she had a strong opinion to start with. Maybe she was trying to develop her own angle so as to differentiate herself, but I think she lost the plot. Whatever Petersen's credentials, in this particular match-up, we got high school level writing in Petersen's case vs. PhD level in Lui's.
posted by mantecol at 7:17 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hah. Well, I am enough of a middle-aged Midwesterner to know that Allure is in a really different category from Woman's Day and Family Circle. But I think that the quote is about things like Women's Day. This is what's in Women's Day. I'm not the target audience, but it seems pretty unobjectionable as magazines go.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:19 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you can be very successful and still not be a celebrity. Amal Clooney, for example.

yes, and matt damon married a bartender.
posted by nadawi at 7:21 AM on March 22, 2016


She's allowed to be conservative. Her decisions are not our business. Bloody celebrity big business, it's disgusting. I'm glad I stopped buying those shitty magazines. I was addicted to them for a while but I had to stop buying them because they were so obsessed with women becoming pregnant I almost vomited. There's nothing wrong with women being pregnant, mind you, but those magazines are all about the baby bump (TUM-thing to tell us?) Disgusting and disgraceful.

I hope Jennifer Garner has a good life, she deserves it. So do we all. I won't be buying any more magazines to find out what happens in her future, though. And I feel good about that.

Celebrity magazines should become as obsolete as coal mining.
posted by h00py at 7:33 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


yes, and matt damon married a bartender.

...and that's beneath him, somehow? Julia Roberts married a cameraman. Meryl Streep married a sculptor. Can't we just let people marry who they want without passing judgment on them for it?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:35 AM on March 22, 2016 [17 favorites]


Vis-a-vis her media mastery and good girl image, in Garner's Vanity Fair interview she also planted a seed for future discovery with her comments about Ben Affleck's phoenix tattoo, the note on which the Lainey piece ends thusly:

One thing is for sure: she refuses to claim responsibility for the midlife-crisis tattoo—the rising phoenix—that takes up her estranged husband’s entire back, as seen in photographs. “You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart.’ A phoenix rising from the ashes. Am I the ashes in this scenario?” Garner says with a wink.

“I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes.”


Affleck has since revealed that the phoenix tattoo is a fake created for the Batman movie. Ergo, intentionally or not, by treating the tattoo as real Garner got across the idea that she and Affleck are no longer intimate, reinforcing the conscious uncoupling and "bad decision" narratives.
posted by carmicha at 7:39 AM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


i will continue to notice that famous men tend to end up with hostesses, bartenders, nannies, and personal trainers that are years younger than them. you cherry picking a couple examples of it going the other way isn't very persuasive. my initial comment was a direct reaction to what matt damon said.
posted by nadawi at 7:41 AM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


(although, to damon's credit, he at least married a woman close to his own age)
posted by nadawi at 7:42 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Meryl Streep married a sculptor.

When she was a well-regarded theater actress, not when she was MERYL STREEP. (also, she was John Cazale's 14-years-younger girlfriend until his death, so...)
posted by Etrigan at 7:47 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


"i will continue to notice that famous men tend to end up with hostesses, bartenders, nannies, and personal trainers that are years younger than them."

A disproportionate number of famous women marry personal trainers and security staff. I think you just don't end up with a lot of opportunities to become intimately acquainted with someone who isn't in some kind of service position relative to you. (And you read all the time about famous actresses getting divorced from big-deal bankers and lawyers who were clearly using the actresses to leverage their own business prospects (or forward their frauds) and the marriage was secondary to the access to the actress's wealthy friends -- you don't have to worry as much about that sort of shit with someone in a socially inferior profession.) I absolutely 100% give you the age difference for famous men marrying young, which women don't as much, but I think marrying a service/staff person is pretty normal in Hollywood and actually a pretty rational response to the pressures of fame for someone who is seeking a more stable, less-tabloidy family life.

(Not even just Hollywood stars, either -- Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden married her personal trainer for much the same reason: it was almost impossible for her to get close enough to anyone of her own "class" to date and fall in love, and she had a series of awkward public romances where high-profile men were trying to use her. She was able to develop trust and affection with her personal trainer that she couldn't develop in a more traditional dating relationship.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:53 AM on March 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


Jennifer Garner was pregnant with her first kid at the exact same time my wife was pregnant with our first kid. It was a little odd, but we would see pictures of a pregnant Garner going through the same stages of pregnancy as my wife. I remember even hearing what stroller she'd bought and discussing how we really preferred the one we'd purchased. (Two kids later, I stand by that position. The Mountain Buggy is awesome and so sturdily built that it might someday be used for our grandkids.) We don't hang around outside her house, buy magazines with her photograph on the cover, or do anything obnoxious, but I think we do identify with her some. We don't think of ourselves as "conservative," but her apparent approach to her career is also appealing. I'm practicing my profession in the Midwest, not in NY or LA, and that's partly because I know I can get off work in time to come home for dinner.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 7:56 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm genuinely curious if there's actually a magazine that the rest of the country (including myself) hasn't heard of or if this is just Matt Damon saying "Red...Book? What on earth is that? MATT DAMON!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:58 AM on March 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Hm. Am I the only one to find the "good [Garner] girls" stuff...squicky?

I think it's creepy and infantilizing. Will that do?


I tried hard to like Jennifer Garner (her post-Hannah on Felicity career) but I get kind of weirded out by her baby voice (still am because of the ads she's doing), which I thought, until now, she couldn't help. But is it a part of her whole "good Garner girl" schtick? No clue.
posted by discopolo at 8:11 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


There's also the possibility that the tattoo is only fake because Affleck realized how dumb it was and is getting rid of it (Lainey Gossip link - love her so much and would love to join the gossip studies course she's always imagining).
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:13 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


but I think marrying a service/staff person is pretty normal in Hollywood and actually a pretty rational response to the pressures of fame for someone who is seeking a more stable, less-tabloidy family life.

how lucky for stars like ben affleck and gavin rossdale that they were able to find a staff person they could really connect with in their children's nurseries.
posted by nadawi at 8:14 AM on March 22, 2016 [31 favorites]


Petersen's article takes more of a chronological arc (a lot of the info from the article can be found in the body of Garner's wikipedia entry), pulling in other people's opinions here and there, oscillating between them without ever tying all the threads together. I'd call it less thoughtful and more confused.

I agree. What this article really is is a scrapbook of out-of-context quotes from interviews Garner gave to other magazines (all of which are doing their own editing of the original interview, and have their own audience and advertisers and point of view). Others have remarked on the truncated Damon quote, and there are tons of snippets from other interviews in here--usually less than a sentence long plucked from presumably a multi-page feature--tenuously woven together to tell whatever story Petersen wants to tell. I get that Petersen probably couldn't get an interview with Garner. Did she even reach out for comment?
posted by mama casserole at 8:14 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted. As always, if your comment is "I sure don't care about this boring stuff," just skip the thread and go to another one that you do find interesting.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:18 AM on March 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


I clicked on the Women's Day link ready to be appalled (opened it in an incognito window and everything) and then there was a charming article about two dudes showing up at a hospital with baby presents when they were accidentally included in the announcement text. And now my life is very confusing because everything else about that site is not what I want in my life, but damn, it was cute.
posted by dame at 8:19 AM on March 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


I guess I don’t see this article as dismissive of Garner because it is basically about how, in being forced to be strategic about her career, she has carved out a niche for herself that no one even thought existed.

Her ex-husband and her ex-husband’s best friend certainly don’t seem terribly interested in the “minivan majority” (unless We Bought a Zoo was made for them? Was We Bought a Zoo made for anybody? It seems mostly like a fever dream?), and neither does most of Hollywood. The collective industry wisdom for years has been that “those people” Just Don’t Get It, and therefore they don’t deserve good media either.

So Jennifer Garner, seeing that the typical paths to success were being blocked off for her, because she was a woman who could not remain in her twenties indefinitely, because she wanted to make personal choices that were fundamentally at odds with what is expected of women in the acting industry, because she was married to someone who keeps snatching career suicide from the jaws of success— she saw a different way forward. I don’t think AHP is condemning her or mocking her for that. I think she’s actually trying to show everyone what an incredibly fine line Garner is attempting to walk, and how skillfully she’s doing so.

Petersen has always been less interested in individual stars per se, and more interested in how those stars navigate the incredibly constrictive choices that Hollywood gives them. How do human beings survive (or not) the Star System? What compromises are forced on them? What machinations that seem alien to the public are everyday for them? That Garner still holds such major star pull for her fans despite her resume shows us how skillfully she is navigating these networks of power.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:21 AM on March 22, 2016 [34 favorites]


Hannah from Felicity was actually quite a complex character and Garner played her instinctively. She presented as a total white bread good girl, but everything she did was somehow underhanded and manipulative and betrayed a major set of attachment issues underlying the "good girl" exterior.

Man, looking back on it, Felicity was such a well-written and well-acted show. For two seasons, at least.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:23 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well sure, but when's the last time Matt Damon was in a supermarket?

I wouldn't underestimate people's power to just ignore stuff that doesn't interest them to the point that they don't really see them. At this point I can walk past a rack of tiny flat women or tiny flat sportsball men staring at me and mostly they just don't really impinge on my consciousness. The only ones that really register to me on a regular basis, since the demise of Weekly World News anyway, are the ones with delicious food on the cover. And even that's mostly gone away since supermarkets up here in Yankeeland mostly don't carry Southern Living, which had the most bestest food porn.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:24 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


"how lucky for stars like ben affleck and gavin rossdale that they were able to find a staff person they could really connect with in their children's nurseries."

Yes, but the problem in those cases is really the adultery, not the employment status of the mistress. You're lumping together a lot of different things! Matt Damon marrying a bartender or Patrick Dempsey marrying his hairdresser is a lot different than Ben Affleck diddling the nanny while still married to Jennifer Garner, but your original comment threw that all together, and said that women didn't date the help. My contention is simply that famous women DO marry the help, and that marrying the help is a rational response to the distortions Hollywood creates for the very famous, and not necessarily gross. (Affleck, still pretty gross here.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:35 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


my initial comment was men always have such good sounding reasons for why they can't stand a successful wife... that was the point i was making. although, i would say that dating/marrying/etc your own employees is still pretty gross with or without adultery. i get why famous people date people outside of the industry - but i still think there's a definite sexist ageism problem when it comes to famous men picking their partners (which you see reflected when 30 year old actresses are considered too old to be the love interests of 50 year old men).
posted by nadawi at 8:43 AM on March 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


(Ugh I hope that tattoo was not for Batman but I wouldn't be surprised if that was the real story since Hollywood has been ruining Batman for the last 20 years. I wish it was Ben Affleck's real tattoo because I also enjoyed J.Lo piling on the tattoo shade)
posted by like_neon at 8:54 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, but the problem in those cases is really the adultery, not the employment status of the mistress.

No, the problem is that many men seem to find a woman more attractive when she is a subordinate.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:03 AM on March 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


my initial comment was men always have such good sounding reasons for why they can't stand a successful wife... that was the point i was making.

About an out of context qoute where Damon was talking about "celebrity", not "success".
posted by P.o.B. at 9:05 AM on March 22, 2016


that would be the good sounding reason, yes.
posted by nadawi at 9:13 AM on March 22, 2016


I think we should be a little less loose with using the "conservative" term regarding Garner. From her wiki page: In 2014, Garner donated $25,000 to the campaign of Democratic politician Wendy Davis.

In regards to the constant appearances on the cover of women's magazines, can someone do a longform on the obsession of the magazines with Anniston and Jolie? OK, the later is a mother but not the traditional type.
posted by Ber at 9:13 AM on March 22, 2016


Jolie? OK, the later is a mother but not the traditional type.

She's given birth twice to three children, in addition to her adopted children. She's traditional and un-.
posted by Etrigan at 9:16 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Matt Damon's been with his wife for 13 years. They have four children. It's beyond gross to reduce her to "a bartender". People's relationships intersect with political issues in aggregate but they're also real and individual and profound and shouldn't be casually sneered about by strangers. Many of us could be in more "progressive" relationships, but I don't go around tsk-tsk-ing whenever somebody marries yet another white person or whatever.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:26 AM on March 22, 2016 [38 favorites]


You are correct Etrigan, I should have been a little more nuanced. Plus Jolie and Anniston seem more constant on the scandal rags than on the "minivan mom" magazines.
posted by Ber at 9:27 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


that would be the good sounding reason, yes.

...okay... but that doesn't follow. You might as well be making those same comments as if he was talking about her pancake making skills.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:27 AM on March 22, 2016


I wonder how much of the celebrity gossip industry is really explicitly a parallel universe of fiction, centered around women rather than men. I.e. the whole gossip / scandalous-secrets / wholesome-profile industry exists because it's a way for women readers to feel like stories are being told that are for them, when the actual movies offer pretty thin gruel in terms of women's roles/stories. Like, suppose representation in Hollywood suddenly became 50/50 male/female in every job, and it became the norm for movies to pass the Bechdel test, and women characters had the same range of ages and looks that male characters did. Would celeb gossip as we know it now dry up and blow away?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2016 [100 favorites]


Mind blown, LobsterMitten.
posted by Etrigan at 9:31 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Matt Damon doesn't say "no one", he says "you and I haven't heard of", speaking to a British journalist. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people aren't familiar with Woman's Day, Allure or Family Circle, which sell in absolute millions every month, but are for reasons of the deeply pervasive misogyny of modern society, not something that everyone feels like they should be aware of, and therefore an American man and a British journalist might reasonably never have heard of them.

Yes. I feel like this article is a Rorschach test. It’s interesting to see what people are reading into it.
posted by bongo_x at 9:36 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


...Butter (2012) — an Election-like take on butter sculpting in the Midwest...

Dang, I didn't know they made a movie about that -- how awesome!!

OK, show of hands: of those who have been to the Minnesota State Fair and seen the butter sculptures of the Princesses, who has not been amazed and charmed, while also slightly horrified?

(The rest of you have about five months to get your tickets and airfare. Probably also start hoarding Prilosec & Lipitor.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:37 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


...Butter (2012) — an Election-like take on butter sculpting in the Midwest...

Dang, I didn't know they made a movie about that -- how awesome!!

OK, show of hands: of those who have been to the Minnesota State Fair and seen the butter sculptures of the Princesses, who has not been amazed and charmed, while also slightly horrified?


The movie is ostensibly set in Iowa, and, as you may know, the Iowa State Fair has its own butter sculpture tradition.

I agreed with this take from the AV Club:

"A toothless, insufferably smug satire using competitive butter-carving as a weak-tea stand-in for Midwestern politics, Butter is so contemptuous of its corn-fed rubes, it might as well be a Trojan horse crafted to prove the movie industry’s liberal bias. "

"Mostly, Butter is a venue for writer Jason Micallef and director Jim Field Smith to lob spitballs at people about whom they seem to know nothing, and care less."

There's plenty to satirize in the Midwest (lots of hypocrisy here), but isn't going to work unless you have some idea of what it is you are satirizing.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 10:04 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I always think of those women's mags as the "desserts and diets" magazines, because they always have recipes for the first and directions for the second in every single issue.
posted by emjaybee at 10:04 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I wonder how much of the celebrity gossip industry is really explicitly a parallel universe of fiction, centered around women rather than men.

I definitely think that's part of it, but I also think it's just a manifestation of the fact that people like stories about other people. I have recently started watching more professional sports and I've been struck by how much of the coverage is not technical, but rather about the players and their personalities. Their friendships/rivalries with each other, their struggles with injuries or psychology, their triumphant arcs and tragic falls.

So I mean this stuff is certainly gendered, especially with regard to the focus (male sports stars get career-coverage, female movie stars get personal-relationship coverage) and women are definitely under-represented in other kinds of popular media, but I don't think that's the whole story.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 10:05 AM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


hope Jennifer Garner has a good life, she deserves it. So do we all. I won't be buying any more magazines to find out what happens in her future, though. And I feel good about that.

Ah but by refusing to buy the magazines, you're working against her attempts at securing "the good life" for herself and her family. This whole article is about Garner's clever and thoughtful strategy to use magazines to build the strongest possible brand for herself, with her particular talents and desires for her life.
posted by sallybrown at 10:06 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


And I would argue that Amal Clooney is very much a celebrity, she's just subtle, sophisticated, and clever about it.

Ber, if you want analysis of the Jennifer Aniston / Angelina Jolie / Brad Pitt triangle, there is really no one better than Lainey Gossip. She regularly analyzes how they each use their celebrity and personal lives to throw attention onto their career choices (and in Jolie's case, social causes).
posted by sallybrown at 10:16 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I want nothing so much in the world as some kind of long-form collaboration between Anne Helen Petersen and Karina Longworth on manufacturing and maintaining celebrity in Hollywood.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:32 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Growing up in the South as an Evangelical homeschooler, when the mail came was always my favorite part of the day because of these magazines. OK sure a lot of them are boring, but once in awhile they'd mentioned sex, and I'd have to make sure to read them quickly before my mom did because if she found out she'd hide the sex-mentioning ones. Parents was my fav for sure (where I learned about a lot of sex stuff and that Santa wasn't real) and Marie Claire was pretty good for that kind of stuff. The most boring was probably Woman's Day or Better Homes and Gardens.
posted by melissam at 10:38 AM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


I have recently started watching more professional sports and I've been struck by how much of the coverage is not technical, but rather about the players and their personalities.

The sportsball worlds are very similar to the celebrity gossip world(s? are the multiples? teen vs adult maybe?) in quite a number of respects. While they all primarily focus on the games, the personal aspects are quite important as well. For movie/TV star/music star pop culture that's true as well, most of them are famous for something outside of the gossip columns. Maybe the major difference is how many sportsball worlds there are (at least big ones five in NA alone), though the celeb culture world is likely much larger than any individual sports one.

It's interesting to see how far this goes. There are even inverted pop industries where the gossip is more important than the thing itself. On the one hand, there are the famous-for-being-famous "reality" stars for whom the paparazzi/gossip columns are the primary point, the Kardashians etc..., on the other the "sport" of WWE where the soap operas and explicit character arcs are the most important thing, with the actual wrestling being more of a performance to feed the story rather than a competition.
posted by bonehead at 10:42 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


J-Garn

Please don't do that.
posted by davebush at 10:43 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Not so much the Big-esque "child's personality in an adult body" element but more the "what if you woke up to discover you had somehow grown up to be a terrible person without meaning to?" aspect.

Or, as I call it, Tuesday morning.
posted by briank at 11:06 AM on March 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


I remember reading an analysis of celebrity culture years ago that mentioned a primate study where monkeys would voluntarily give up sips of juicy-juice (their treat of choice) to look at pictures of their troop leaders. And the results were really strong, too, like they'd rather look at pictures of their troop leaders than pictures of attractive other monkeys. It made me re-think my disdain for celebrity culture.

The article gets at this a little bit, too, when the author says that "Stars maintain their status as stars by acting out ideologies and understandings of the world that feel right. " Average people (whether midwestern or not!) want to hear stories about people they can identify with, and of how their lives could be. About stories that seem true, and good. So the baby bump thing is huge in these mags, because it's a true, happy thing that is happening to someone they can identify with.

And I think it's absolutely true that if Hollywood did a better job of telling such stories, celebrity culture would fade some. But I also think people would spend more time thinking about those new characters and maybe making fanfic or something. Because if you look at the media geared to women (soap operas, romance mags, rom coms) there isn't a a ton of smart content that covers these topics women care about (love, family, children, work-life balance).

And to bring this back to the article, I thought it was a really interesting take on the ways one smart woman is trying to balance a bunch of those issues. While in the camera lens of the five cars parked out front of her house.
posted by ldthomps at 11:10 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Growing up in the South as an Evangelical homeschooler, when the mail came was always my favorite part of the day because of these magazines. OK sure a lot of them are boring, but once in awhile they'd mentioned sex, and I'd have to make sure to read them quickly before my mom did because if she found out she'd hide the sex-mentioning ones.

I remember flipping through my mom's Redbooks and Cosmos for the sex tips. Later, as a sexually mature adult, I realized those publications do women a serious disservice when it comes to advertising what men like/want.
posted by echocollate at 11:14 AM on March 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


And I think it's absolutely true that if Hollywood did a better job of telling such stories, celebrity culture would fade some.

I think there's a good argument to be made that this was the big thing that TV stumbled into with Survivor, the O.J. Simpson trial and then Paris Hilton (at least in the present generation). Given its need for constant feeding and updates, I doubt this could be replaced by a single monolithic experience like a movie, but TV is perfect for it.
posted by bonehead at 11:21 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have several friends who are working actresses in Hollywood. One was the costar of a very successful television series in the Nineties whose career just ended when the show did, but for a few appearances guesting on shows per year. The other has been moving around the margins of mainstream success for quite a few years now, starring in a few Lifetime movies, having larger supporting roles in smaller shows and a few lines on larger shows.

There is a sort of back door economy in Hollywood for women. The truth is, unless you are very, very successful as an actress, it isn't much of a career. Most jobs really don't pay very well (my second friend could, at best, be described as living a lower-middle-class life, and she very much goes feast to famine). The jobs that do pay well are not going to last all that long, and you never know when the next one will come.

For a lot of actresses (and some actors), their acting career is somewhat underwritten. Some have wealthy romantic partners and so can do one or two television gigs per year, many younger actors have rich parents who support them. Enterprising actors and actresses will have second gigs that help pay the bills, and are legitimized by their acting career -- even if they don't make a lot of money from the acting gigs themselves, the fact of them allows more lucrative work as acting coaches, or, in the case of my second friend, a sort-of twilight job in the world of Christian programs, where she hawks books and gives speeches about the professional world of Hollywood to Christian teens who are also thinking of becoming actors, but are worried about navigating a world that might ask them to compromise their values.

And, gosh, none of this sort of thing ever seems to get mentioned anywhere, even though I find it to be more interesting than a lot of the acting work my friends do. And it becomes especially important for women to figure this out, because, well, sexism. They tend to get more aggressively marketed into niche roles, and so much writing for women is so shallow that the competition for any one role is ferocious, because the producers aren't looking for that essential ineffable whatever, but instead are looking for someone who looks good in, say, a leather catsuit.

My second friend, the Lifetime actress, has also been popping up here and there in faith-based movies. I think she thinks there might be a growing market there, and, more than that, since it is the audience for those movies who support her side-career, it makes sense for her. And as much sense as it makes to me, I can't quite get over the strangeness of it. It's so different from the world of Hollywood you read about in gossip magazines, or celebrity autobiographies. It's this roiling world of side-scrabbling, of constantly looking for the thing that supports your acting career and is in turn supported by it.

Garner has her magazines. It seems weird from the outside, but, from what I have seen of the actual grind of being a working actor, I get it. She's not in her earlier niche anymore. No more leather catsuits. So she's working another niche, and most of that work is done out of the limelight.

I mean, I suppose she could have just relied on Affleck to support her, but why should she, and, from the sounds of things, he's not astonishingly reliable.
posted by maxsparber at 11:30 AM on March 22, 2016 [35 favorites]


And I would argue that Amal Clooney is very much a celebrity, she's just subtle, sophisticated, and clever about it.

I would argue that Amal Clooney (spouse of George) is a celebrity, while Amal Uddin (international human rights lawyer) was/is not, and she has been quite successful in both roles.
posted by Etrigan at 11:46 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


emjaybee: I always think of those women's mags as the "desserts and diets" magazines, because they always have recipes for the first and directions for the second in every single issue.

When my mother worked in women's magazines in the 1960s, the formula was jokily summarized as: "knit your own abortion the royal family way!"
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:54 AM on March 22, 2016 [18 favorites]


Asking feels stupid, but I need to know: is Matt Damon saying that without the income from magazine interviews, Garner (or Garner and Affleck?) would not be able to afford five cars (belonging to them) parked in their driveway?

I don't always read things the same way most people do. In this case my first thought was to conclude Garner and Affleck entertain a lot of friends at their home.
posted by Monochrome at 12:17 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


As tempting as it'd be to go on a tangent about midwestern-targeted magazines at the checkout aisle...

I find it interesting that despite being about Jennifer Garner and her media image, the unspoken, unquestioned image of Ben Affleck is as a dude-ish dad type. His own problems, whether personal or in his relationship, are framed in a way that paint him as no different than a suburban guy who is derelict in his domestic duties. Drinks too much, gambles too much on sports and cards, cheats on his wife with the nanny (the only real classist part, although in the tone used in articles, you could substitute in "mom of one of his kid's friends" without a major break in the narrative), has a mid-life crisis and gets a tattoo suitable for a beer-addled twenty-something.

It's masterful framing. I have no doubt that despite his change in lifestyle and accomplishments that he's kind of a bro-ish dude, but he's also heading to Cannes and other highbrow film festivals, gambling with high rollers, living on the other side of a home from his estranged wife that is probably a distance equal to me walking from my home to the end of the block. To an extent all problems are human problems, but.. the framing!
posted by mikeh at 12:18 PM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Monochrome, I think Damon is saying that Garner builds her celebrity image with a certain part of the market through the magazines and leverages these consumers to purchase her main product, which is movies.
posted by biffa at 12:27 PM on March 22, 2016


And the "five cars outside their house" is the paparazzi.
posted by Etrigan at 12:28 PM on March 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


Alluring Mouthbreather: The movie is ostensibly set in Iowa, and, as you may know, the Iowa State Fair has its own butter sculpture tradition.

To be honest, I purposefully forget as much about Iowa as I can. They probably copied Minnesota anyway. Copy-cats.

But definitely thank you for that link, which saves me from watching that movie no matter how much I like fairs and butter and Jennifer Garner. (Which is a lot.)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:30 PM on March 22, 2016


is Matt Damon saying that without the income from magazine interviews, Garner (or Garner and Affleck?) would not be able to afford five cars (belonging to them) parked in their driveway?

I think he is referring to the paparazzi that are camped out in their driveway, hoping to get some snaps of Garner "momming around".
posted by joelhunt at 12:31 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Garner's role in Juno (2007) as the prospective adoptive mom. In that movie, she and her husband appeared to be a golden couple, but the husband proved fickle and Garner's character decided to go the single parent route in the end. This role was so different from my image of Sidney from the Alias (2001-2006) that I felt like she wandered into the wrong movie. But looking back, I now see it actually presages her later mom roles, and even echoes her real life a bit.
posted by of strange foe at 12:39 PM on March 22, 2016 [18 favorites]


is Matt Damon saying that without the income from magazine interviews, Garner (or Garner and Affleck?) would not be able to afford five cars (belonging to them) parked in their driveway?

I think he is referring to the paparazzi that are camped out in their driveway, hoping to get some snaps of Garner "momming around"


to further expand on this, there are also many celebrities who either tip off the paparazzi when they want to be photographed (while pretending the pictures are candid) and/or hire photographers who then license the shots to celebrity magazines. (Some photo agencies are known for arrangements like this - Blake Lively was once "paparazzi" photographed in the middle of nowhere at a bed and breakfast a family member of hers happened to own (with the sign featured prominently in the picture), for example.) So the implication of Damon's statement is not just "oh man there are paps camped out there all the time against their wishes" -- it could also be "they are constantly arranging for happy family photos for the tabloids." (Of course he pins it all on Jen, acting like Ben doesn't deign to that sort of unserious activity, which...the more stuff Matt Damon comments on, the less I seem to like him.)
posted by sallybrown at 12:45 PM on March 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


is Matt Damon saying that without the income from magazine interviews, Garner (or Garner and Affleck?) would not be able to afford five cars (belonging to them) parked in their driveway?

I think he is referring to the paparazzi that are camped out in their driveway, hoping to get some snaps of Garner "momming around".


And, in the original context of comparing his marriage to Affleck's and Garner's, that it seems much easier to him to avoid the paparazzi / constant spotlight when only one partner in the relationship is a public figure. Let's put together the entire section, because it's kind of talking about a different thing than what it's been repurposed for in the posted article:

Damon's Argentinian wife was a bartender in Miami when they met 10 years ago. "I think marrying somebody who's not a celebrity, it just takes a lot of the pressure off." His old friend Ben Affleck hasn't been quite so lucky. "Ben's wife, Jennifer Garner, she sells a shitload of magazines in the midwest. Magazines that – Ben explained this to me – you and I have never heard of, but that appeal to a mom in the midwest, who for some reason identifies with Jennifer and wants to know what she's doing as a mom. As a result of that, there are always five cars outside their house."

He's banking on his family being too boring to attract much attention, even in LA. "The narrative is, OK, he's married and happy and they have kids, and there's not really anything else to the story, the story never changes."

But if he's wrong? "Well, if that part
[living in LA] is really bad, then we'll leave. It's just not worth it. There are things I'm willing to give up, you know, but there's a limit."

So while Damon might be right or wrong about who Garner appeals to and why, his point is just that she appeals publicly at all, leading to much more interest in and pressure on his friend's private life than his own.
posted by Errant at 12:46 PM on March 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


If I were a celeb I'd go the Michael Keaton route and head to the Montana mountains.
posted by Ber at 12:52 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


With the added benefit of getting to hang out with Michael Keaton.
posted by Etrigan at 12:52 PM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am not a mom, nor in the Midwest, nor particularly a fan of Garner, but Jennifer Garner's Shrimp and Orzo recipe (Self magazine, 2000) has been a favorite of mine for years.
posted by Kabanos at 12:58 PM on March 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Everyone loved 13 going on 30, right? I did
posted by asockpuppet at 8:33 AM on March 22 [13 favorites +] [!]

no one else should favorite this! it is ideal.
posted by numaner at 1:02 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


BRB, registering 17 sockpuppet accounts.
posted by Etrigan at 1:15 PM on March 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


no one else should favorite this! it is ideal.

We're in the golden hour as it ticks up to 30. But any more and it will be ruined.
posted by maxsparber at 1:25 PM on March 22, 2016


how lucky for stars like ben affleck and gavin rossdale that they were able to find a staff person they could really connect with in their children's nurseries.

One of my friends, who is fairly well off and lives in LA, was interviewing potential nannies with his partner years ago. He said one of the candidates was a young woman who was unbelievably beautiful, in addition to being nice and qualified for the work.

Friend: "Well, she seemed nice..."

Partner: "Absolutely not. Next?"

It was a humorous anecdote at the time, but now I'm not sure if his partner's reaction suggested trust issues, keen insight, or both.

posted by maxwelton at 1:26 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


he pins it all on Jen, acting like Ben doesn't deign to that sort of unserious activity

Given that Affleck has been the one who was breathlessly reported for years, while Garner wasn't really a huge target for paparazzi prior to their relationship, I think the one in that pair who encourages and curries favour with the celebrity gossip scene is pretty obvious. Affleck clearly loves the spotlights, Garner seems to be much happier with a quiet family life.
posted by bonehead at 1:51 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


> "minivan mom" magazines.

From where I'm sitting right now I can see both my magazine rack and my minivan. I admit my magazines are not cutting edge -- currently visible are The Week, The New Yorker, Kiki, and Washington Trails -- but I don't think they deserve to be sneered at.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:56 PM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hm. Am I the only one to find the "good [Garner] girls" stuff...squicky?

Its just a linguistic relic from when large families or a number of cousins living close by was common. The Flatt and Scruggs' song " The Johnson Boys" was noted as a very old song somewhere in Appalachia in 1915,

When I was a kid the stereotypical Tompson Girl was bright, short, willing to work, liked to hunt, pretty etc. Way to smart to 'have to' get married and probably not a virgin when she started dating her hubby to be. I'm willing to admit that I had a crush on more than one of them.
posted by ridgerunner at 2:07 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


So while Damon might be right or wrong about who Garner appeals to and why, his point is just that she appeals publicly at all, leading to much more interest in and pressure on his friend's private life than his own.

Damon strikes me as a fairly down-to-earth and lowkey guy, as celebrities go, but there's still an odd subtext to his comment, which is probably just a tinge of the built-in egocentric privilege that comes with his territory. It's like he's inadvertently bragging about how his wife is better than Affleck's wife because she's a "non-entity" -- and we all know the key purpose of a wife (or a celebrity's partner in general) is to make life less stressful and more convenient for the important spouse.

Whereas the reality is that Affleck and Damon's fame is what's overwhelmingly driving the publicness of both families' lives. Last time I checked, Jennifer Garner didn't have a whole series of viral Jimmy Kimmel videos with bazillions of views. The woman who married Damon surely would have a considerably simpler and less annoying (privacy-wise) life if she were with a non-celeb, but it seems like the moral of the story is "it's cool to have one globally recognizable fame-sucking person in a household as long as the other one is a nobody."
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:18 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


My read is that he is blaming his cool bro chill dude friend's wife for what he perceives as pimping Ben out to the tabloids as an upstanding family man movie star husband, part of a perfect Hollywood family. Damon thinks "well my wife and I are authentic because we don't tip off people to photograph us at the farmer's market who then use those photos to sell magazines (to "Midwestern" folks, in other words, the "unsophisticated" masses) that perpetuate our public image as a perfect family."

What he misses is: (a) Ben has agency in this and is as much to "blame" as Jen, (b) the Affleck/Garner family's choices in this regard pulled Ben out of a smoldering ditch of a career that had been tanked by his Gigli-era choices and proclivities, and (c) Matt's career itself rests at least partially on public image, especially the start of it.

But maybe that kind of self-reflection is too much to ask from the guy who dumped Minnie Driver live on TV.

That's a very uncharitable reading of his remarks, certainly, but it explains the odd tone.
posted by sallybrown at 2:50 PM on March 22, 2016 [17 favorites]


I'm not in any significant rush to defend Matt Damon, especially not over comments he made 3 years ago, but I'm wondering where you get the tip-off angle from. It is has not been my understanding of paparazzi culture that they need any help figuring out where celebrities live. It seems more to me like he's saying "people are exceptionally interested in Jennifer Garner's home life and career as a mother, so they have a lot of scrutiny at home; people are not terribly interested in my wife's home life and career as a mother, so we don't, and I/we prefer that". All the Midwestern minivan stuff is boilerplate Masshole disdain for the middle of the country, but I'm not sure where you get that he's blaming Jennifer Garner for being popular or accusing her of manipulating the media. It seems like he's bemused by the kind of popular that she is, who's she's popular with and why, but he doesn't seem agitated about it. Plus, considering he said these things 3 years ago while Garner and Affleck were at least presenting the image of being happily married, it doesn't seem likely that he's sniping at his friends' relationship. But I'm not real invested in whether or not people like Matt Damon, so if your read is that he's an arrogant elitist prick who backhands his buddies in public, it's ok with me.
posted by Errant at 3:08 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


According to J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner is “a beautiful girl with an ugly girl’s personality.”

That is possibly the most offensive sentence I have ever read.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 4:02 PM on March 22, 2016 [22 favorites]


how lucky for stars like ben affleck and gavin rossdale that they were able to find a staff person they could really connect with in their children's nurseries.

Affleck's been a cheater for years. He just got caught out by the press this time. Rossdale is also a cheater---Stefani was married to him and didn't know he had a secret daughter on the side.

These guys will do anybody, basically. The only real thing I can recall Gwyneth Paltrow ever saying is that Affleck was the kind of guy who just wanted to sit around, gamble and have hot women serve him cold beer.

He's really not likeable, but both Garner and Damon and even JLo go to extraordinary lengths to defend this drab guy. Any photo of him just triggers an exhausted response from me---he sounds like a real chore to be married to.
posted by discopolo at 4:26 PM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


As the article points out, everything about this is so old fashioned, from stand by your man narrative to the PR routines. It feels so managed in a way that modern stars really haven't been expected to do in a while. We're in the middle of a really conservative cycle, celebrity culture wise, and thise always hinge on pretending not to be playing the gossip and PR game.
posted by The Whelk at 4:36 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Wait, this is something that I just never really understood as a hippie earth mother type from birth--- like... is it not possible that some women- even without a culture shoving it down their throat ACTUALLY LIKE mothering, hanging out with their kids, and domestic life? I just, personally I have always felt totally left in the dark by the glorifying of competitive aggressive traits, either in men or women, and how the assumption is that if we level the playing field all people wanting to be CEO's who love being in the office more than their family and are willing to stomp on the environment, human welfare, and human rights issues to get ahead which is such as extremely common thing n so much industry it's just seen as laughable to refuse to do things because they hurt the environment, exploit underpaid laborers here or overseas...

Like WHY can't progressive women love mothering and being with their kids? I get it's not for everyone, but people who identify as womens do a much larger portion of the pregnancy and birthing and nursing, and I get that is not that powerful an experience for some women, but what if it IS a powerful bonding experience for some us?

Why is the default of being progressive that women who have powerful experiences with motherhood and love it are just devoid of agency to the point if they talk about it they are just manipulating their image and they can't really be speaking from an honest perspective? What if staying home with kids is fucking AWESOME for some of us, and we really wish we could push for a lot more respect for women- or men (or any gender) who really like that? Why is there an assumption that pregnancy and birthing and nursing MUST be meaningless experiences as the default and expect that until exactly 50 percent of women are pushed into the workplace as soon after the birth as possible, the difference can only possibly be brainwashing and upholding a "made up" status quo that has nothing to do with te fact that MAYBE for SOME portion of women, that experience creates a huge amount of urges to stay home and be with your kids and they WANT that, whether their "enlightened" culture wants to shove them in the workplace right away for their own good or not. I'm just sick of denigrating women who value motherhood and time with their kids as a progressive "feminist" thing to do.
posted by xarnop at 6:18 PM on March 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


Weird article. I always got the feeling that Garner was just way more into Affleck than he was into her and the marriage inevitably died. Listening to her "good garner girls" recitation I wonder why she married him at all. What on earth did they have in common? Did he hope he'd stay sober with a good garner girl for a wife? Such an odd relationship.

Given that Affleck has been the one who was breathlessly reported for years, while Garner wasn't really a huge target for paparazzi prior to their relationship,

Someone doesn't remember the cheating on Scott Foley with Michael Vartan scandal. One of the first internet gossip scandals I recall and I didn't even know who any of them were. She was a huge topic of gossip before she got with Affleck.
posted by fshgrl at 6:33 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


My take on their relationship was that Affleck had political goals. Garner has the popularity and wholesome reputation (and I think Claire Underwood style savviness) to be a perfect politician wife. She brought some respectability to him, particularly after his cheesy "riding shirtless in a boat in a Jlo video" phase. But then their relationship tanked, Garner saw the light and finally left him. I loved her Vanity Fair interview! "I refuse to be the ashes!" Hell yeah, Jen.
PS his back tattoo is real. I still believe!
posted by areaperson at 6:51 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much Argo being a hit and Oscar win changed things....
posted by The Whelk at 7:08 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Cause the gossip at the time was that Affleck was behaving himself and helping with Garner's perfect mom carrer until Argo won out of nowhere and he thought he was invincible)
posted by The Whelk at 7:13 PM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Everyone loved 13 going on 30, right? I did

I watched this the morning of a good friend's wedding and as soon as the movie made me cry I knew that I was done for.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:17 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a Midwesterner in LA, let me second Eyebrows's reaction to the article.
posted by persona au gratin at 7:18 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


She was a huge topic of gossip before she got with Affleck.

Yeah, because of Alias. I don't want to believe she cheated on Scott Foley because at the time it seemed like a mean thing to do to Noel. (Recently rewatched the series and I like Ben/Scott Speedman so much.)
posted by discopolo at 8:12 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Scott Speedman! Michael Vartan!...remember when Bradley Cooper was just That Other Guy on Alias?
posted by sallybrown at 8:47 PM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Data nerd here. I found a site that catalogues most/all of Garner's magazine covers. From glancing at them I wouldn't say there's a huge overlap between "magazines I've never heard of" and "appeals to the typical Midwestern mom", but then I haven't been to the midwest since I was a wee lass.

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

A comparison of magazine cover counts from the same site:
Jennifer Garner - 155
Ben Affleck - 169
Matt Damon - 112
Jennifer Aniston - 1550
Brad Pitt - 999
Angelina Jolie - 1828
Catherine Duchess of Cambridge - 1453
Prince William Windsor - 650
Jennifer Lopez - 1164
Jennifer Lawrence - 536
Katie Holmes - 557
Tom Cruise - 883
Nicole Kidman - 875
George Clooney - 517
Amal Alamuddin - 118

Top female listing for each letter of the alphabet (with some editorializing by me - some links probably NSFW):
Ariana Grande - 90
Beyoncé Knowles - 571
Cameron Diaz - 780
Demi Lovato - 175
Emma Watson - 315
Faith Hill - 68
Gaby Espino - 53
Hilary Duff - 290
Irina Shayk - 158
Jessica Alba - 567
Kim Kardashian West - 788
Lindsay Lohan - 273
Miley Cyrus - 366
Nicki Minaj - 73
Olivia Wilde - 176
Paris Hilton - 221
Queen Latifah - 30
Rihanna - 661
Scarlett Johansson - 610
Taylor Swift - 566
Uma Thurman - 211
Vanessa Hudgens - 236
Whitney Houston - 131
Zooey Deschanel - 125

Either the Midwestern magazines are so obscure that even the members of FamousFix don't know about them, or Garner isn't the most popular magazine subject by a long shot.
posted by mantecol at 9:23 PM on March 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


I found the article condescending and dismissive, as though choosing to be a nurturer, is a choice to be sneered at. This woman clearly chose to put the emotional labor it took to raise her children and maintain a relationship with a reportedly difficult man, above career goals. This is a thing many women, Midwestern or not, can identify with, in that it is sometime that many of us have done, in one way or another.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:26 PM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Jennifer Garner surfs away from the site. "But they all said MetaFilter was cool."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:05 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I read the article as admiring her ability to forge a permanent A-list kind of fame in a way that hadn't really happened in Hollywood before (hence the comparisons in the article between Garner and other A-list stars who made other choices in crafting an image). I came away with an image of her as a fighter and ambitious actress who is extremely committed to her family and who, when faced with an apparent choice between either giving up her fame and career or giving up the things she wanted to be and do in her personal life, instead invented a whole new path for herself, using her (real, sincere) devotion to her family to build an appealing brand that translated into career security.
posted by sallybrown at 8:08 AM on March 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sallybrown, I left the article feeling the same way about an actress whom heretofore had not been on my radar, but I feel like I got there despite the author, rather than because of the author.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:13 AM on March 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes, this one really showcases Garner's appeal, the humanity and vulnerability she naturally projects

Hannah from Felicity was actually quite a complex character and Garner played her instinctively.


This kind of characterization of an actor's work seems a little... insulting? Acting was literally her task and if she made it feel natural and instinctive, why wouldn't the impulse be to say she acted well, as opposed to attributing to instincts or 'nature.' It reminds of me the pattern of attributing men's achievements to talent and women's to luck.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:20 PM on March 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


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