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The Trouble With Jennifer Aniston’s Boyfriend-PR Strategy

Cry, the beloved Aniston.Photo: WireImage

When Jennifer Aniston’s fling with noted lady-killer John Mayer ended this weekend, we were bummed — not because we’d booked seats on the Mayerston bandwagon, but because it’s exactly what we expected. Consider the math: two Jolie-Pitt pregnancies, and two allegedly serious and tabloid-friendly Aniston relationships that lasted just long enough to ride out the fervor over her ex-husband’s glorious new spawn. If you stop and smell the PR, it reeks. Jennifer is a bona fide star, yet her team seems fixated on proving she attracts beefy boyfriends, instead of projecting the image of a self-confident woman who attracts beefy roles. And frankly, we find that strategy questionable.

Granted, Aniston’s in a tough spot. Since her marriage to Pitt imploded, she’s been the tabloids’ favorite lovelorn punching bag, forever yoked to the glittering Brangelina and unfairly — not to mention archaically — doomed to be branded a dried-up crone until she spawns and/or gets hitched. So the suspiciously convenient timing of Jennifer’s long-term relationships could be seen as self-preservation. For every “Brangelina’s Baby Joy” headline, we’re spared a matching sidebar that cruelly screams, “ALONE IN MALIBU,” or “WHY JEN CRIES.” We’d want to avoid that, too.

But how does a string of toxic-bachelor boyfriends help? We’re not saying the girl shouldn’t go out and get some, just that maybe she should consider dating someone who isn’t more trouble than he’s worth in column inches. Pairing up with boozy flirt Vince Vaughn yielded yet another round of “Poor Unlucky Jen” for her, once photos and rumors of his cheating emerged. Horndog John Mayer could get “squire for hire” printed on his business card, thanks to his history of lending himself to stars in need of a little tabloid TLC — like his ex Jessica Simpson (the twentysomething version of the tragic spinster Us Weekly wants Aniston to be) and that fling with a post-Timberlake, mad-with-jealousy Cameron Diaz. At this rate, if Angelina gets knocked up a third time, we’ll be awash in headlines trumpeting Jen’s six-month yachting vacation with George Clooney or hot-and-heavy courtship with Tommy Lee.

Ergo, this weekend’s breakup not only didn’t surprise us but made us sad for her. Aniston used to be America’s most-loved comic actress. Now, thanks to her counteracting all that Brangelina PR with obviously labored stories — full of suggestive pictures and coy denials — about her own love life, we’re barely able to name a single thing she’s has done lately that doesn’t involve hanging around with a bunch of notorious man-children. Or, worse, signing up to star in forgettable rom-coms with titles that hit a bit too close to home. The Break-Up was bad enough, but He’s Just Not That Into You? Honey, no. There’s self-awareness, and then there’s masochism.

In fact, until we recently caught a late-night rerun of Friends, we totally forgot Aniston is actually quite charming and talented. If she really wants to prove she’s risen from the ashes of her marriage — and who can blame her? — she ought to take a page from Nicole Kidman’s book and let a kick-ass career be the best revenge. After all, she can’t beat the Jolie-Pitts at their own PR game, but a memorable guest stint (How I Met Your Mother, anyone?), a self-effacing cameo, or even a regular TV gig would do the talking better than the tabloids ever could. Remind us why we took a shine to you in the first place, Jen. They didn’t make those “Team Aniston” shirts for nothing.


In just a few days, the world will stop, the tents will go up, and models will stub out their cigarettes just long enough to storm down the runways sporting the spring 2009 collections — and the Fug Girls will be here to document every A-list moment along the way. Ever wonder what The Bob smells like? Or what front-row dweller really has scuffed shoes? Or just how a Fug Girl dodges all the screaming assistants and scalding lattes? Now’s the time to find out: For next week’s column, they’re answering your Fashion Week questions — anything you’ve ever wondered about the Fuggish experience in the tents (how do they manage to observe all those celebrity tics, anyhow?), now’s the time to ask! Put your questions in the comments below or send them to Jessica Coen at jessica (dot) coen (at) nymag (dot) com, and the girls will answer a handful for next week’s column.

Editor’s Note 8/27/08: This post originally claimed, incorrectly, that Vince Vaughn received a DUI while with Aniston. The Cut regrets the error.

Related: Since When Is Jessica Simpson a Spinster?
‘Friends’ Movie Practically Definitely Totally Basically Green-lit, Says Some Dude [Vulture]
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The Trouble With Jennifer Aniston’s Boyfriend-PR Strategy