Given the audience for this blog and my status as a maven of pop culture, it should come as a complete surprise that I’m writing about the divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. After all, Jolie only filed for divorce on Monday. That’s 19 September 2016. Normally, I wouldn’t get around to the subject until early 2019 at best. Indeed, it is only a complete fluke that I found out about it. Because here’s the thing: I don’t care. That, I’m sure, will come as no surprise.
But I am interested in why it is that Hollywood couples so often divorce. Of course, it isn’t just them. “Power” couples tend not to last. And this, I believe, is due to a fundamental flaw in human social psychology and capitalism itself. Personally, I think that Brad Pitt is a very attractive man. I assume that’s widely accepted. Angelina Jolie looks very odd to me. But most men I know think she is attractive. And both members of this power couple are certainly professional-level screen actors.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Are Not That Amazing
But neither Brad Pitt nor Angelina Jolie are so distinguished in any way that they would be considered more than near the top of a collection of people. Yet because of their success, they are held in ridiculously high esteem. This is where the social psychology and capitalism come in. It is because of the capitalist system that they are far more successful than their talents warrant. Success creates success in a capitalist system — especially one so very aggressive in enforcing property rights. It’s not surprising that people look up to icons like this, even though it isn’t justified. A little hierarchy isn’t a bad thing. Sadly, there is no such thing as “a little hierarchy” in a capitalist system.
But I’m more interested in how it destroys the icons themselves. Why do Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie suffer from “irreconcilable differences”? You know what most hurts couples: financial difficulties. This couple did not have that problem. Their combined net worth is estimated to be almost a half billion dollars. What could be so bad in their lives that they absolutely can’t work it out? Infidelity? Drug addiction? Domestic abuse? People with much less manage to work through these problems — and worse.
Don’t Need to Work
I think it comes down to this: they don’t need to work through their differences. All their wealth and celebrity have turned them into adult versions of spoiled brats. And just as I don’t blame spoiled children for their behavior, I don’t blame Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for theirs. The blame goes to all of us: the people that accept an economic system that allows people to have that kind of money. They are, after all, actors. They should live in a system that requires them to act for a living until they are in their mid-60s.
Before someone mentions it: I know about their humanitarian work. I don’t care. All it shows is that they are at least vaguely aware of their privilege. Did I meantion they have a combined net worth of almost a half billion dollars? These are people who could be stripped of every penny they have and would still manage to be millionaires by this time next year. They will not suffer. They cannot suffer in an economic sense.
Save the Rich!
The reason we need economic reform is primarily for the billions who suffer in a direct economic sense. But we also need it for people like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Because we’ve allowed them lose at least part of their souls. Because that’s what great privilege does to people. It doesn’t make them bad people. I think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have managed remarkably well. As far as I know they haven’t murdered anyone. But for their sake — For the sake of their children! — we must stop the madness. We must save the souls of the rich by making them like the rest of us.
Note that one reason conservative give for paying the rich excessive sums of money is that if we don’t they will work less. But this has never held water. If you increase my salary by 10%, I’ll probably work more. I don’t make that much money, so it works as an incentive. But for people like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? Don’t you think they would act in a lot more films if they actually had to do it for a living? If it was something more than a habit or a hobby?