In years to come people will know where they were when they heard that Brangelina was no more.
I was in a conference room at a London Court. The Children’s Guardian came in and said ‘And in other bad news, Angelina has filed for divorce from Brad!’
Yes, lawyers and social workers alike yelled their disbelief.
I think one person put her hands to her face in despair but I can’t be sure. The conference room spun, everything became blurry.
How could this happen?
The greatest celebrity portmanteau of our time was over.
I switched on my phone. Sure enough someone had sent me a text with the BBC breaking news story. On my Whats App there was a group conversation going on to which I had been added.
OMG! Brad and Ange have split!!
Several weeping emojis followed from the various adult participants. Someone had posted the Daily Mail double page spread of the demise.
It was true then. If the Daily Mail Showbiz page had confirmed it, there could be no doubt.
Back in the conference room, one counsel stood apart looking baffled.
“Who cares?” She asked, a little timidly, it has to be said.
“We do!” We yelled in unison. Said counsel was quietly bundled out of the room to go read a chancery law report or something equally unfathomly dull.
Angelina. Brad. Brad Ange.
How familiarly we discussed two Hollywood superstars.
Brad and Ange.
And don’t forget Jen, the girl next door Brad left for Ange. On social media gifs of her from Friends laughing her head off abounded. Jolie the ‘homewrecker’ of yore had possibly been dealt a similar hand by Brad’s most recent co-star, French actress Marion Cotillard.
Of-course, no-one knows anything for certain but ‘sources’ are full of it as usual. Full of hot air, mostly.
I have long had issues with ‘a source’ -that prolific contributor to tabloid stories about the famous. He has unprecedented access to the most private moments of celebrities and is trusted by them to remain in the inner circle despite it being obvious that he betrays their trust at the drop of a hat – always to the tackiest outlet.
But with this celebrity story I’m less concerned with the ridiculous ‘a source’. I have my own memories of Brangelina. I’d seen and met Angelina Jolie a few times before she met Pitt. She was stunning, oozing with sexual charisma, a real Hollywood siren.
Pitt, I never found attractive but understood why millions of others did.
Once they became Brangelina, I saw them several times in London and Cannes at glitzy premieres and award shows. I thought they looked in love and well suited. They seemed in synch like a couple that had been together a very long time.
In Hollywood years their 12 together was practically a lifetime. 10 years unmarried, 2 married. They famously have 6 children, 3 biological, 3 adopted from around the world.
I say I have memories of them, not because I’ve seen them around at glamorous events but because their relationship spans the era of my experience of the Internet crazies. To have been a Brangelina fan for the past 12 years is to have been on quite a journey.
First there was the scandal. Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt had fallen for sultry siren Jolie on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith whilst still married to America’s sweetheart Jennifer Aniston.
The world was shocked. You could buy Tshirts: Team Jolie, Team Aniston. The latter outsold the former 3 to 1.
Jennifer gave a tearful interview to Vogue. Jolie and Pitt travelled the world together but refused to confirm they were a couple.
In the press a new showbiz beast was created – Brangelina.
It spawned children of all colours and nationalities. It visited refugee camps and disaster sites and tried to save the world.
Poor Jen, meanwhile looked sad and couldn’t get a man to stay with her. The tabloids put her on permanent baby bump watch. Poor Jen deserved some happiness. Who, oh, who could provide it?
The most famous triangle since Charles, Camilla and Diana story ran for over a decade. Weekly the tabloids ran a cover story about a Brangelina split and how Brad was ready to run back to Jennifer.
On the internet it was worse.
Just as there is an evil dark side to the web in which paedophiles and terrorists fester, so there is a celebrity underbelly in which unstable people vent their frustration with their own unhappy lives onto the famous.
Angelina Jolie was the first major victim of this horrid world.
I first stumbled across an entertainment site about 11 years ago on which there was an almighty battle between the Aniston fans and a handful of Jolie supporters. For a lawyer it was interesting at first to see such passionate arguments about how Jolie was a ‘homewrecker’ who had ‘stolen’ Pitt from ‘Jen’. Or how ‘Maniston’ was a bore and Pitt had every right to honourably put an end to a marriage that no longer fulfilled him rather than sneak around having affairs like most celebrities while playing the family guy.
However, after time the endless debates became obsessive, creepy and then downright sinister. The more Jolie was trashed, the more fans she gained. The more Brangelina ‘flaunted’ their relationship, the more bitter Aniston’s fans became.
Soon there were nasty, orchestrated fights on forums which seemed not entirely fan led. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there were bigger hands behind the scenes fanning the flames of both idol worship and hatred of the sort I had never read before – and I’ve practiced criminal law!
A Jolie v Aniston fight got you hits, so everyone encouraged it.
Angelina Jolie bore the brunt of the fallout of the affair with Pitt. Women, yes, sadly, all women blamed her for ‘stealing’ Pitt away from Aniston. Pitt was just a weakling pawn in her evil image building games. She wanted to go from being a wild child to Mother Theresa and Pitt and a ‘child army’ were going to help her achieve it.
To give you an idea of how shockingly nasty it all became, there is a forum which has over 1 MILLION threads on it dedicated to wishing Jolie harm. Actual harm. Wishing her death in childbirth, praying for her to be struck down with cancer and so on.
It is the sort of hatred that would get you sectioned if you aired it publicly but from behind an anonymous keyboard, anything goes.
At first there was a horrible, morbid fascination in reading and trying to understand such levels of insanity. But after a while I found it soul destroying and I bowed out, refusing to read a single such forum again.
Brangelina was the start of the celebrity hater web. It was the biggest, worst and most lunatic version but sadly, even with the demise of Brangelina it’s a disgusting trend that shows no sign of dying. Newer celebrity couples like Benedict Cumberbatch and his wife, Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, Robert Pattinson/FKA Twigs/Kristen Stewart have inherited the lonely, unhappy crazies late to the original Barangelina hate party.
The couples may have changed but the delusions and hateful tactics have continued and found a new home on tumblr.
With the end of Brangelina, the death of such hate is hopefully not too far behind.