Brad Pitt Is Proof That We Haven't Learned Anything
The actor is just the latest in a long line of powerful men who stay winning even when they’re publicly accused of abuse.
People have been making a fuss for years about how “we don’t have movie stars anymore.” There are famous people, and famous actors, but the capital-M, capital-S movie stars—the Katharine Hepburns, the Cary Grants, and even the George Clooneys and the Julia Robertses—are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. A remnant from another, bygone era.
I’m not going to fully get into that debate, but even if movie stars might not shine as brightly these days, it’s not like there are literally none of them left. We definitely still have some. Their cultural clout might have waned, but they are affixed in the firmament, and their influence is unarguable.
Case in point: Brad Pitt. Pitt is a proper movie star, and he has been for decades. The masses saw him for the first time in all his bad boy glory in Thelma & Louise in 1991, and since then, he’s been on basically a steady upward trajectory. There’s been ebbs and flows in his career, and he has occupied many different personas—hunk, serious actor, comedic actor, merry prankster—but his hold on the public has never wavered. Nor has his status as a tabloid sensation. There are untold millions of people who can reel off his relationship history, from his dating Gwyneth Paltrow to his marriage to Jennifer Aniston to his spectacular breakup with Aniston to his marriage and gigantic family with Angelina Jolie to his spectacular breakup with Jolie. It’s that last part—the split from Jolie—that I want to focus on here.
Pitt and Jolie divorced in 2016 following an alleged incident that took place on a private plane (prepare for a lot of “allegedly” and vague descriptions). The details of the incident were unclear at the time, but the fact that something happened wasn’t a secret. It was written about in the BBC, Vanity Fair, Reuters, The Cut (in much greater detail than others), and many other places. The main thrust of those stories, which tended to diverge predictably in tone from tabloid coverage, was that Pitt was being investigated for alleged child abuse— stemming from the couples’ then-15-year-old son Maddox reportedly getting in the middle of a fight between Pitt and Jolie on the plane—and was then cleared of those charges.
Is this ringing any bells? It might, after the news of this week—and I’ll get to that in a minute—but what about at any point in the preceding six years?
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