DIVORCE: Glamorized, digitalized, monetized, trivialized: Is Hollywood to blame?

UPDATED AUGUST 2014. Originally published November 20, 2010 


Madonna’s divorce was good for her career



Filed in Celebrity divorce news: Is divorce glamorous? Or is it merely entertaining?  Arguably, divorce has become both glamorous and entertaining. Blame it on Tinsel Town, blame it on the media. Blame it on whomever you want. But the facts are the facts. Divorce has become a form of entertainment that no longer saddens or shocks, but amuses and titillates.

There was a time that divorce used to just be a contact sport where the couple went to bat over their private failures, omissions and deceptions – in court. Now divorce is a full on I-would-pay-money-to-see-this drama for a voyeuristic public that is played out in tabloid magazines and mainstream press. The public has become an audience of voyeurs who can’t seem to get enough of other people’s divorce porn. But you can’t really blame us nobodies. It is the celebrities that make divorce so very fun and intriguing.

Movie stars and other entertainers make marriage and divorce seem easy, expendable and even trivial – some of them do. More than the rest of the population, many entertainers seem to get married as a way of increasing their fame. A married movie star couple is infinitely more interesting, and is more bankable, than a single movie star – let’s face it . It doesn’t matter how big the star. Madonna was a huge star but she was even bigger and more interesting when she married Sean Penn and then Guy Ritchie. Both her divorces were infinitely more interesting that her marriages. Her divorce factored into making her Hard Candy world tour one of the biggest grossing tours of her career.
When a star gets divorced there’s no bigger circus than that. It is not just the movies. Even reality show stars, D-List personalities enjoy this type of perverted fame: Neither Bethenny nor Jason was all that interesting alone – let’s face it. But together, they are a financial, reality TV, entertainment bonanza.
When stars get divorced, the media wants to book them on their shows. Said star may be invited to do talk shows like The View, night shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live and even mentioned on World News Tonight depending on how big a star they are. Movie careers and Academy Awards have been

Heidi Montag on “The Hills”

won by people at or around the time of a divorce. Some of these movie scripts, you guessed it, are all about “divorce.” For a voyeuristic public, this gives the appearance that getting a divorce is no big deal – in fact, it may even be a good thing. It is certainly glamorous and interesting.
The process of courting, marrying and divorcing in Hollywood is a means of staying in the public eye, which, ostensibly, furthers the career of many stars in Hollywood. The more of a spectacle the marriage is, the more interested the public becomes in the dissolution of that marriage – le Divorce, if you may – and the more that the star’s name is repeated on blogs, entertainment shows, and hard news shows the more likely he or she is to land the next part or gig. Divorce was good for Nicole Kidman’s career. It was good for Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Willis and Jessica Simpson. In a sick and twisted way, it was even good for Britney Spears and Elin Woods.  Just the “rumour” of divorce can be lucrative as well. In the case of Jay Z and Beyonce it meant hundreds of millions in concert tickets.
Divorce is more than glamour and entertainment, however. Like sex, Divorce sells, big time. When a movie star divorces, chances are, he or she (it’s usually the women who are more interesting in this scenario) will show up dressed to the nines – perfect hair and make up – and looking nonchalant as if the divorce is the least of their problems. The stars handlers will work overtime to get the right spin and the right angle to the story. Depending on who gets the “exclusive” will determine who much money the celebrity makes from the tell all. Or, if they eschew all that, they will simply have their publicist issue a statement that they are hoping the public “respects their privacy.” In which case, the paparazzi will be on the hunt to get the “money shot” of the star’s first public sighting since the divorce was announced. Whatever the case may be, this announcement will make the divorcée more newsworthy, more bankable, and he or she will sell more magazines.
There is also the question of endorsement contracts that come from these types of public bust ups. The star may be invited to sell products like water, clothing, make-up and sneakers, once again, to a voyeuristic public.
Brad’s divorce made him and Angelina more bankable

If a celebrity is even marginally inventive, he or she can make some good money from a divorce – and this is not just about the settlement from the spouse. This is cash flows they create just by the mere fact of having gotten divorced. Even the new people in a star’s post-divorce life stand to cash in on the divorce. The media and a voracious public will follow the new romance almost willing it to end in divorce so that once again, they (the public) can get their divorce porn fix. There  are enormous entrepreneurial opportunities in a divorce for an inventive and creative star. He or she can write a memoir, unleash a hit song, or write a cook book that capitalizes on the divorce. That often results in big bucks his or her bank account. Even in the case of a “fake divorce” a star may be offered a reality show to chronicle his or her post-divorce life.
In this digital era, divorce is very much a hot and trending topic on as many radars. In 120 words or less ever so often during the course of the day, billions of people around the world can get the play by play of the divorce of not only celebrities, but of ordinary Joe Schmoes as well. More lawyers than ever before are using evidence from Facebook, Myspace, Google searches, Instagram, Twitter and Foursquare to pin scandals on spouses in court cases, and text messages (well, more specifically sext messages) have been busting up marriages not only in Tinsle Town, but in every town across the land.
Smartphones, a part of the digital divorce trend, are used to send text messages which often lead to the bust up of many celebrity marriages, to wit: Tiger Woods, Tony Parker, John Ensign. (Although, smartphone also serve a good purpose. The I – phone for example helps to make divorce less frightening with divorce apps to assist divorcing couples figure out everything from child support obligations to “divorce risk.”)
Has divorce become “trivial?” Arguably, the answer for many people is “yes.” And for many, the persons to blame are the movie stars in Hollywood who set a bad example by treating their marriages and divorces as if it’s just another career move, and yet another avenue of cash.
Madonna image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shankbone/2618367873/sizes/m/in/photostream/
Brad/Angie credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/3495972728/sizes/m/in/photostream/
Heidi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aon/2447491178/sizes/m/in/photostream/