Bennifer’s Back? J. Lo and Ben Affleck’s Pandemic Stunts Have Been a Blessing
After almost 20 years, is Bennifer back together? Who knows, but God bless these two for pulling out all the PR stunts to keep us entertained through this last awful year.
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Bennifer Is Back?!
On Saturday, you can watch Jennifer Lopez in a makeshift enchanted forest wearing a shimmering bodysuit with dramatic bell sleeves that eclipse her own height as she leads a stadium in Los Angeles through a singalong of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” in the name of equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Is this a chaotic game of doomsday Mad Libs? Or is it a beautifully bedazzled manifestation of hope and the future, a J. Lo-led future in which hands, once again, can be touching hands? Reaching out. Touching me. And, yes, also touching you.
Lopez is one of the celebrities who appeared at Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, the Global Citizen-produced event that calls on world leaders to unite to help make global access to the vaccine available. Beyond its noble message, there’s a surreal optimism to the concert: artists performing live to crowds again. The rest of us can watch it on Saturday as it simultaneously broadcasts on ABC, CBS, Fox, and YouTube.
You know who else appears at Vax Live? Ben Affleck. Wee-oo! Wee-oo! Call Us Weekly and sound the couple alert alarm!
The entertainment industry loves nothing more than a decades-old reboot that nobody asked for. So maybe none of us should have been taken by surprise when they who were once Bennifer were spotted “hanging out” a reported “multiple times” this week. This is just weeks after Lopez and Alex Rodriguez ended their engagement and several months after Affleck’s split from Ana de Armas.
I do not believe that the couple, who were engaged in 2002 and had the misfortune of being the most famous celebrity relationship at a craven turning point for the tabloid industry, are rekindling any sort of romance. (Though if they are? Hot.) They have long been friends. Friends hang out. Whatever.
The timing of it all, though, so soon after the breakup news and knowing exactly how the media and all our hearts were going to run with it? The devil works hard, and the J. Lo publicity team all have masters degrees from the Lucifer B. Devil School of Promotion.
And it’s not just her. No one stunts the media better than Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck.
Neither Lopez nor Affleck have released new projects during the pandemic. No new album. No new movies. (As self-care, we have erased Zack Snyder’s Justice League from our permanent memory.) Yet no two celebrities have kept us more entertained.
That Lopez ranks as one of the industry’s most electric live entertainers has made her especially suited to dazzle and distract us during a tough year, performing at scattered telethons, award shows, and events. But it’s not just been the usual jaw-dropping dancing. It’s been some atypically weird shit, too. Things like covering Neil Diamond on a set from FernGully.
At an earlier Global Citizen telethon, she covered Barbra Streisand’s “People,” a swerve if I’ve ever heard one from an entertainer not traditionally known for being a vocalist. On New Year’s Eve, she covered Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” and yes, she went for that note. Hell, she remixed “This Land Is Your Land” with her own song at the inauguration of Joe Biden, managing the rare combination of being both historic and iconic while also in questionable taste.
Off-stage, there was the Alex Rodriguez soap opera. She narrowly escaped the teeth of an alleged sex cannibal (phew!) in a last-minute casting switch in the lead-up to her new film. Instagram gossip account Deuxmoi, both the bane of my existence and my most unshakable addiction, seemed to pendulum-swing between anonymous reports of her diva behavior and her legendary professionalism on a daily basis.
Capping it all off by stoking some Bennifer nostalgia and hysteria? We do not deserve.
Then there’s Affleck. No man has been more relatable, let alone more popular, while doing absolutely nothing.
How damn long was that stretch of the pandemic when every day brought new photos of Affleck picking up his Dunkin Donuts order, to which the world would give a daily standing ovation? Ben Affleck! He’s just like us. He’s gotta have his Dunkin and looks like absolute shit while getting it, like he’s just had enough of the world, dammit.
Has there ever been a more boring couple that we inexplicably became obsessed with than Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas? They, like the rest of us, would go on their daily constitutional during lockdown, strolling hand-in-hand. The paparazzi would snap a photo. And we liiiiived for it!
Then there was the saga of the life-sized Ana de Armas cardboard cutout thrown out in Affleck’s trash after they broke up. The number of questions it begged—Did Affleck really have a cardboard cutout of his girlfriend in his home?—didn’t matter. It was the lunatic energy we needed in month 475 of pandemic boredom.
And while the rest of the world got excited about the potential of a Bennifer reunion, for me the real news this past week was the TikTok posted by a girl who claimed that she matched with Affleck on the exclusive dating app Raya, but didn’t believe it was really him. When she unmatched him, he allegedly sent her a video on Instagram asking why he unmatched her.
I can’t verify if this is a real video or a deepfake of Affleck generated to go viral. All I know is it was supreme Divorced Dad energy and the best thing Affleck has contributed to the culture since Good Will Hunting.
Are Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck getting back together? Who knows. But they do deserve happiness, especially after this last year, in which they have given just so much to us.