The Grammy Awards may have given attendees goody bags worth more than €50,000 each, but it gave each of us watching a little gift as well: the prize of a thousand memes generated by Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez having “words” in the background of the broadcast.
Seasoned couples (and any child who has played up at Mass) will recognise the pointed looks, the leaning in and the words whispered between gritted teeth. It’s like being told off by a cranky ventriloquist. And for what? So people “won’t know” you’re having an old-fashioned argument that’s actually obvious to everyone in a 5km radius.
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There are two types of couple in the world: those who openly have loud differences of opinions and those who love to boast that they “never fight” – because of course it’s much healthier spending 30 years wearing each other’s souls down with passive-aggressive remarks and plain old silence.
Affleck looks like any other man who has been made to go to his wife’s work do. Physically he was there, but mentally he was on the pitch, reliving a game he scored a goal in when he was 17. His wife gives him a loving jab to at least look like he’s happy to be there, for the love of God.
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I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. (I could have saved the Daily Mail from bringing in professional lip readers.) I don’t mind if couples argue in public as long as it fulfils two strict criteria: (a) it’s not abusive and (b) they talk loudly enough for me to hear what the fight is about, because I’d like to pick whose side I’m on.
That’s the real reason we’re all so invested in a 10-second clip. We’re dying to find out what THAT was all about. Aside from human nature making us insufferable stickybeaks – Australian for noseyholes; consider it your word of the day – we love deciding which party is right and which party is wrong.
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Entire media empires were fuelled by endless headlines about Diana and Charles and what they were doing to each other. Leaked elevator footage had the world desperate to know why Solange started to hit Jay-Z, her brother-in-law, when they were dressed up for a classy event. Beyoncé put the world’s inability to mind their own business to good use by putting out Lemonade, the bestselling album of 2016, which addressed her husband’s alleged infidelity.
While some of us would rather have our internet search histories posted publicly than have strangers know about arguments with our intimate partners, others welcome it. Just ask Reddit: the social-media giant says its most popular subreddit last year was the aptly named r/Am I the Asshole?
Known to fans as AITA, it’s a forum where people explain the conflicts they’re having with their nearest and dearest in order for millions of strangers to adjudicate the dispute.
Where once we had to call up our mother after an argument to ask, ‘Was I being reasonable?’ we now have 5.6 million potential assholes, as Reddit calls the group’s members, ready to tell us if we were in the wrong.
The subreddit has let us get involved in all kinds of spats we have no business being in. Like the guy who wanted to know if he was “the asshole for very rarely/almost never wanting to go to restaurants because my girlfriend makes food that’s just as good, if not better, than restaurant food?”
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As you can guess, the answer was a resounding yes. Which left many commenters feeling better about their own relationships, because we can at least recognise that taking someone on a date is much nicer than making them slave away over a stove. Technology has truly advanced us as a civilisation.
But that’s why we’re all so invested in other couple’s dust-ups: it makes us feel better that it’s not us this time. We want to know what they’re fighting about so we can feel vindicated in our own madness. “SEE, I was overreacting when she put the ice-cube tray back empty again,” we mutter to ourselves as we scroll.
We’ll be watching the forum closely in the next few days to see if u/jennyfromthablock is typing.