In 2003, Bennifer was a joke. In 2021, it’s a pop cultural redemption. https://t.co/23WRSBprMR— Vox (@voxdotcom) August 24, 2021
- With the sometimes horrible gossip cycle which includes Free Britney and the Depp drama, Bennifer 2.0 is fun gossip and needed.
- In 2003, Bennifer had much publicity appeal, but quickly became oversaturated and the hate came quickly after the Jenny From the Block music video and Dateline interview. “They were young, impossibly good-looking, fabulously wealthy, and clearly hot for each other,” reasoned the Guardian with hindsight this January, “so it seemed like a good time to knock them down a peg.” Affleck felt the heat and they broke up in 2004 after Affleck cheated. Later, Affleck would say that appearing in that “Jenny From the Block” video ruined his career. But for the record, he would note it wasn’t Lopez’s fault.
- A 2003 Vanity Fair profile of Ben Affleck almost mocked him for being starry eyed over the "canny manipulator" Lopez. That narrative was the one the press embraced: Lopez as a social-climbing man-eater, and Affleck as her oblivious pawn. In the same profile, Affleck criticized the criticism, saying, "I think it has to do with race and class, the fact that I’m white and she’s Puerto Rican. That’s what’s underneath, although nobody says it, because it’s not politically correct."
- Affleck's words in 2003 seem aware in a more open 2021. The ways the public fetishized Lopez’s body while refusing to respect the labor she performed with it, the way people considered her work and persona trashy while Affleck’s was considered highbrow — it’s all inflected by race, class, and gender. We've also seen this narrative with both interracial couples like Meghan Markle and Racist Harry, Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, and Jodie Turner-Smith and Joshua Jackson.
- Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez reunited in the spring of 2021, after marriages, divorces and children; and the general response was shock and delight. Jennifer Lawrence famously shrieked with happiness during a podcast about it. “They lost their love once, and so did we, and now that it’s been miraculously reborn, let’s appreciate this in a way we didn’t the first time!” wrote LaineyGossip. “Look at what JLo is giving us. We should be grateful!”
- People seem to appreciate the second chance at love. Ben Affleck's make over, which was mocked first time around, is appreciated as him stepping his game up. Fashion bloggers Tom and Lorenzo noted on Twitter, “Ben Affleck got himself in better shape for J Lo again than he did to play Batman.”
- Unlike 2003, there is more respect for Lopez in general from her business savvy to her work ethic and her Glamorous Diva image has become aspirational ("When people said Jennifer Lopez was a diva in 2003, they meant that she was probably bitchy, probably high-maintenance, and probably slutty. When people say Jennifer Lopez is a diva in 2021, they mean that she’s an icon, a goddess."). Affleck’s Serious Actor persona has been memed to death as pathetic so there's no more pressure.
- Vox notes that the change was something Lopez anticipated, and Bennifer may work this time because gossip has changed. “I think different time, different thing, who knows what could’ve happened,” she told People in 2016, “but there was a genuine love there.”