The Jolie-Pitt romance has never been a stranger to the spotlight. In fact, it would have been a failure on the part of the mass media not to document every last detail of the A-list relationship. It was a perfect story, seeped in scandal from the very beginning. He was married, she knew, but still they came together on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, fully aware of the tabloid headlines their love would make. Now, a full eleven years later, the Jolie-Pitts still haven’t lost their spots in the magazines.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt –intentionally or not – relinquished their ability to create news by simply existing on September 20th, 2016. Remember this date, because it may mark the moment pop culture finally came into focus.
A decade ago, our eyes turned to the silver screen for drama, peering behind it for scandal. Movie stars could effortlessly catch the public’s attention with an offbeat kiss or sly smile across the room; their roles melted into their private lives, culminating in stories as (often more) entertaining as the ones on screen. Celebrities had exclusivity over what we saw and what we heard, but that’s no longer the case.
The definition of a “celebrity” has changed, and now, with the internet, the title is more accessible than ever. The introduction of social media within our society has created a huge cultural shift: now anyone can be famous for anything. However, these opportunities come with complications. The world is now over-saturated with celebrities beyond the ones in magazines or on TV screens, leaving the public overwhelmed and confused. To put it simply, there’s just too many people to keep track of. We, the consumers of the media, now have to choose who we focus on and decide exactly why we follow them.
Do we all really care about the Jolie-Pitts? Or are we only making the divorce a big deal due to a burst of nostalgia for an era now passed? Actors and musicians are no longer our only source of drama or excitement. We now have people –i.e. Kylie Jenner – who specialize in “being famous”. Although the idolization of the glamour of Hollywood life will never truly fade away, actors are increasingly being appreciated for being actors, musicians are being recognized for their music, and those who have massive followings are hailed for their fame. With so many characters popping into the limelight, for all of them to get a voice, each of them must only play one role.
The focus on the Jolie-Pitt divorce is a final hurrah, a grand goodbye to the limelight. It not only represents the ending of one of the last high-profile movie star relationships, it represents the ending of a different time: one of print magazines and frosted tips.
This isn’t to say that the population’s craving for drama has completely disappeared. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We are processing rumors, gossip, and celebrity news faster and easier than ever before; information is so accessible that it is virtually impossible to be a public figure without creating some sort of controversy. Scandals are no longer shocking; they’re expected. For celebrities to distinguish themselves, they must commit to something absolutely outrageous. They can no longer create nationwide sensations just by existing. If they’re lucky, they may show up at the very end of People Magazine’s snap story.
Angelia Jolie and Brad Pitt’s heyday was a simpler time. Information was given to us, and the media could easily regulate what we consumed and what we cared about. However, in 2016, we find ourselves swamped with millions of opinions, each urging us to share ideas of our own. We are forced to choose: what to focus on, what to support, a side in feuds and battles. The drama surrounding Taylor Swift and Kanye West or Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj would have ceased to exist at the same scale if it had taken place fifteen years ago; only a few opinions would have surfaced, and only one side would have been understood. Yet, the most important option given to us today is not the opportunity to share our opinions, it’s the option to care.
In a sense, we all have the ability to garner the fame movie stars enjoyed ten years ago. To be widely recognized for your talents and passions was an opportunity once only available to a select few, but it’s now open to all. We have the chance to share and explore without fear of unacceptance. As the Jolie-Pitt divorce fades from our memories and the new definition of fame comes into focus, the curtains close on the pop culture of the past. The monopoly Hollywood has possessed over our definition of “celebrity” has crumbled. Absolutely anyone can be famous for anything. Perhaps you will be the next sensation.