Quarantine, and Love, Have Changed Ben Affleck


It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that Ben Affleck has changed. No longer the avatar of existential pain and suffering, he is now an example of new love bliss. I guess that sort of transformation not such a bad thing. It’s just that we so loved the old image. But like any good friend, you must be happy when someone else is happy and when they grow.

The first signs, of course, were the friendship necklaces. Affleck and his girlfriend, actress on the up-and-way-up Ana de Armas, seem to be wearing one of those heart necklaces that fit together, which you get at the mall store next to Auntie Anne’s. Confusing on all fronts. Were they friends? Two halves of a heart that finally found a home in each other? Either way, it’s pretty cheesy stuff that is also vulnerable and sweet. Something was definitely up.

Then, this kissing. What kissing? Kissing in this music video for a new Residente song, “Antes Que el Mundo Se Acabe.” The big thing right now is public displays of affection by famous people in music videos for new songs. Like, for example, Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk, plus more couples, dancing in that Ariana Grande isolation song. It makes sense! All the celebrities are home right now. They have better film setups than the rest of us probably. They’re in love. They have a moment to contribute.

The video concept that de Armas and Affleck participated in was “people kissing all over the world.” Frankly, a lot of this kissing is gross. Affleck and de Armas acquit themselves well kissing there in some California desert. They are maybe the least gross of any of these makeouts, which is a relief. They’re actors. On-screen makeouts are part of the job descriptions so one would hope they’d be good at it. For some of these others, it’s just like, geez, when was the last time you kissed someone because, wow, cool it, you two.

But regardless of technique, it’s start-to-finish pretty cheesy. Also, once again, pretty vulnerable and sweet! And either way you look at it, extremely different from the Affleck-smoking-through-his-face-mask that we know and love.

Well, I don’t know, maybe he’s not completely changed from the living embodiment of anything Sartre ever wrote. But he’s on his way toward a new narrative. What’s the equation there? Is it one photo of blissful new love for every photo of him looking like human pain incarnate? One photo of him kissing his girlfriend through a mask for every photo of him riding Dumbo at Disney? One photo of an innocent walk in the suburbs for every excruciating exhale ever committed to film?

You know, maybe he can represent both sides here. I guess it’s not surprising that the man with a phoenix back tattoo is the guy kissing his girlfriend in a music video of people making out around the world. Maybe he’s always been a bit of both.

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