It’s tough to be a woman in Hollywood. Perfectly beautiful people are driven straight into the arms of restylane happy doctors, as youth is paramount and 26 is over the hill. Second to youth is being thin enough to faint several times a day. Calories are counted down to the decimal point, and burned off in punishing bootcamps that violate the Geneva Convention. Then there’s the never ending auditioning and networking, all in the hopes of landing a movie role, making it big and taking home a paycheck that’s a fraction of the male lead’s.
If the movie’s a hit, there will be paparazzi stalking every meal and shopping outing, and Daily Mail commenters pointing out that the new Hollywood it girl has a weird big toe, and the big toe gets its own meme that goes viral on Twitter. Then by the grace of god and an all-white academy, an Oscar nomination! The big night arrives and by sheer luck and maybe some pocket lining by a Weinstein, a win! There’s five minutes of glee and pride and then some dumb reporter asks the winner if she’s concerned about the Oscars Curse. “The Curse?” she asks genuinely bewildered. “Oh yeah, you know how if you win Best Actress, odds are you’ll break up with your husband or boyfriend and probably because he’s cheating on you? You know, The Curse.” The actress freezes and the color drains from her face, she mumbles and grunts and stumbles her way out of sight. She gets served with divorce papers the following week.
The Oscars Curse. Did you know there was such a thing? It sounds ridiculous, but there’s actually quite a bit of evidence:
- Jennifer Lawrence wins, splits from Nicholas Hoult.
- Sandra Bullock wins, splits from Jesse James.
- Kate Winslet wins, splits from Sam Mendes.
- Reese Witherspoon wins, splits from Ryan Phillippe.
- Hilary Swank wins, splits from Chad Lowe.
- Charlize Theron wins, splits from Stuart Townsend.
- Halle Berry wins, splits from Eric Benet.
- Julia Roberts wins, splits from Benjamin Bratt.
- Gwyneth Paltrow wins, splits from Ben Affleck.
- Helen Hunt wins, splits from Hank Azaria.
- Susan Sarandon wins, splits from Tim Robbins.
- Jessica Lange wins, splits from Sam Shepard.
- Holly Hunter wins, splits from Janusz Kaminski.
- Emma Thompson wins, splits from Kenneth Branagh.
There are about a dozen more examples on top of those. But, is the curse real? Of course not, because curses aren’t real things. Except for that one time Bobby Brady found an ancient tiki idol and it caused everyone great harm. That was the real deal. But the Oscars Curse? Of course it isn’t an actual thing.
Shockingly, celebrities are people too. There’s an entire US Weekly column dedicated to proving they’re just like us — they pump gas, pick out children’s birthday cakes, get parking validated, sprint across the street from colonic appointment to acupuncture session, and have failed relationships — just like us!
They split for the same reasons we split. You might be an associate marketing manager at a home security company and Halle Berry might be playing one in a movie, but both of your jobs can get in the way of your relationships. Stress, long hours, transfers to the Chicago office/filming in Vancouver for three months can all put a relationship in jeopardy. Family planning can be a point of contention whether you’re Helen Mirren or Harriet from Montvale. If you don’t want kids, but your husband does, you guys have some pretty serious conversations ahead of you. (I don’t know if Helen Mirren wants or wanted kids, hers is literally the first name that popped into my head, I cannot explain why.) Finances are a sticking point whether you’re making $50,000 a year or $15 million for an action movie. If someone’s not pulling their weight or blowing big bucks on a hot tub without discussing it first, it doesn’t matter how many sequin encrusted gowns you have, there’s going to be a problem. Religion can tear people apart too. If one half of the couple isn’t as on board as the other half, tension can mount. Celebrities are just as susceptible to joining religions with centers built just for them as regular people are.
Then, of course, there’s cheating. Think about your friend group, how many of them are divorced? Probably about half, right? Now imagine if your suburban town also had a bunch of Hemsworths running around. It’d be utter chaos. No one’s marriage would be safe. You’re in an ok but boring relationship, and have half an eye out for Keith in purchasing, can you really blame Brad and Angelina?
Listen, they might be glamorous and know their way around a juice cleanse, but when push comes to shove, they’re people just like us. Sometimes marriages fizzle. Sometimes they’re a mistake from day one. Sometimes women marry seemingly good men who turn out to be weak little babies that can’t possibly let the women in their lives be the star of the show, even for one measly awards season.
If you prick Sandra Bullock, does she not bleed? She is human just like the rest of us, and the rest of us get divorced too. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that’s life. So let’s ease up on the Oscars Curse talk and focus our energies on more important matters like, what if someone accidentally finds Bobby Brady’s ancient tiki idol again? How can we be sure it’s still somewhere safe? Does anyone have Obama’s number? We’ve got to get down to the bottom of this.
James J. Sexton