Ben and Jlo-2-min

Are We Really Falling for Bennifer 2.0, or has Nostalgia Rotted Our Brains!?

Ben Affleck is so good at failing up that he has managed to date JLo twice

Words by Stacy Nguyen

Nguyeners and Losers: A weekly JoySauce column full of hot takes and emotional deep dives on pop culture and celebrity news. This column is a manifestation of the countless hours of ‘research’ and ‘analysis’ of stuff like Reddit AMAs and YouTube convo threads that writer Stacy Nguyen likes to obsess over at 11pm.

I’ve been seeing something disturbing on my celeb news feed. I’ve been seeing a really hard-working Puerto Rican American woman get love-trapped again by the emotionally stunted, now-middle-aged dick of Ben Affleck! 

This infamous duo is doing nothing for me, but I feel like I’m in the minority here. Everywhere on social media, I see mostly female friends and acquaintances positively gushing over how beautiful Bennifer 2.0’s love is, how we’re in the presence of its greatness, how it's this beacon of light shining through overcast gray skies.

Um, what?

Move Ben GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A simpler time …

Here’s what was happening in 2002: 

Kelly Clarkson, a wide-eyed powerhouse voice from Fort Worth auditioned for the first season of American Idol and then proceeded to win the entire damn thing. Mandy Moore dyed her hair brown and fell in love with Shane West on screen as she was dying from cancer in A Walk to Remember. And Jennifer Lopez—riding high from making the impossible leap from super popular actor to multi-platinum recording artist—met the dude who starred in Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor and fell in love with him. 

You think Bennifer 2.0 is bad? Bennifer 1.0 was everywhere in 2002. They were permanent fixtures on the covers of tabloid magazines, their smolder followed me every time I went to the grocery store. They met as co-stars on the set of the movie Gigli, and she had evidently made such an impression on him that after shooting wrapped, Affleck took out an entire full-page ad in Variety to proclaim his totally professional, platonic-and-totally-not-deranged admiration of Jennifer Lopez (an entire page!). 

Sad Ben Affleck GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

At the time, Lopez was still married to dancer Cris Judd. And at the time, I didn’t know there was a term to describe this behavior—love bombing. Affleck love-bombed Lopez, and we all had to bear witness to the really gross shrapnel of its aftermath.

Like, you already know the rest of the story: Bennifer became an entire exhausting thing! An API man (Judd is Filipinx) got discarded and erased from the public consciousness because he wasn’t famous enough! [editor's note: Judd was hired to dance with Michael Jackson for the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards and was lead dancer for Jackson on the HIStory Tour. Judd also choreographed numerous music videos including My Way for UsherJump, Jive, & Wail for the Brian Setzer OrchestraIf I Could Go for Angie Martinez and Tango for Julio Iglesias. He also directed the music video, Ain't It Funny-Remix, with Ja Rule. Judd then became creative director for Handprint Entertainment, overseeing a $5 million budget and delivering Jennifer Lopez's NBC concert special Let's Get Loud (DVD)  Judd met Jennifer Lopez in Spain in late 2000 when he was hired to direct her music video for "Love Don't Cost a Thing". ]

And Affleck started dressing better, going from Good Will Hunting dude bro to suave debonair leading man. Reportedly, the public scrutiny and paparazzi that followed choked him, so after continuing to make a total spectacle of their love, replete with a ginormous pink diamond ring, the dude flipped out right after a Dateline interview of them being super in love aired. He reportedly cheated on her (or acted out, post-breakup) at a strip club.  

Jennifer Lopez Respect GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY 

Soon after the dust settled from the blast, Affleck quickly got with and married Jennifer Garner, had kids with her—and they divorced a decade later after he allegedly got with their nanny. He then got all in his feelings about how he was a victim of the press

He healed himself by getting a hugeass phoenix tattoo, probably to affirm to himself that no matter how much the haters try to get you down, you just need to stay true to yourself and rise from the ashes.   

And now it’s 2022 and he’s a changed man and back with Lopez! It’s gonna work out for them this time for sure! Yay! True love wins!



Jennifer Lopez Smh GIF by American Idol - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ben Affeck is toxic 

Affleck has always struck me as a conventional hyper-masculine white dude who has never been ‘othered’ in his entire life. He struck me as a dude who wrote really emotional poetry about the burdens of being an artist who is also too good-looking to be taken seriously. 

Here’s the deal with these kinds of dudes: They are entitled. And because they are white and conventionally attractive, people have a tendency of overlooking their shitty behavior. Just look at how Affleck, a guy with middling talent, keeps getting a million-and-a-half chances to put his foot in his mouth, make just-okay movies, and never truly get taken to task for being terrible to women. 

And yet he seems to think of himself as something of a feminist.

When Harvey Weinstein got busted for being scum of the Earth, Affleck tripped over himself releasing a statement proclaiming his allyship with survivors even though no one was staying up at night thinking, “I wonder what Ben Affleck’s hot take on this is!” 

Nevermind the fact that Rose McGowan accused him of knowing about Weinstein’s behavior and doing nothing about it for years, nevermind the fact that that his own brother was accused of sexual misconduct and he stayed completely mum on that, nevermind the fact that he totally groped Hilarie Burton when they were on TRL and only apologized after it became a public spectacle on social media, and nevermind that he has not apologized to Annamarie Tendler publicly yet.

And then this man had the audacity to keep on partnering with his silly best friend to do a movie about medieval feminism, made by mostly men!

Real question: Why do we romanticize the fact that this gross guy is dating his super famous ex again? 

Ben Affleck Lol GIF by Animation Domination High-Def - Find & Share on GIPHY

Why are we calling it true love instead of the churning cycle of toxicity? 

I know pandemic life is hard, but we are better than this

The thing is, I think our current obsession with the nostalgia of early aughts comes from the fact we’ve had a hard few years, and we are collectively yearning for a time when we could hug and breathe on our friends and family with impunity.  

But here are other things about 2002:

Then-President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law that year. Queen Elizabeth II gave Rudy Guiliani an honorary knighthood like it was all cool to be giving away knighthoods to delusional, dangerous bigots. And Nicolas Sparks hadn’t yet been found out as an anti-Semitic, racist homophobe

The early aughts actually weren’t that great! Like, we must remember how the early aughts treated Britney Spears. We must remember that, as much as we would love chunky highlights to make a comeback, the 2000s were actually a cesspool of misogyny run amok. We must also remember that it wasn’t all gold bedazzled denim low-rise jeans. 

I get why people are wrapped up in the idea of true love getting a second chance, but this isn’t what Bennifer 2.0 is. 

And when we feel overcome by Affleck’s 13-o’clock shadow, we must remember that he dances like every other white guy who isn’t Channing Tatum:

Super Bowl Football GIF by NFL - Find & Share on GIPHY


In summary:

Being a Chasing Amy fan: Loser
Denying you were on Raya despite receipts: Loser
Supporting print media by buying a full page ad: Nguyener

Published on May 13, 2022

Words by Stacy Nguyen

Stacy Nguyen is a Seattle area-based Vietnamese American writer, artist, and designer whose work explores the ways race and gender are reflected within the lens of popular culture. She makes a lot of logos and moves shapes around in a pleasing manner in her day job. She used to be a journalist and news editor, but now she mostly writes hot takes on celebrities. This is because she watches an obscene amount of TV that she should be embarrassed about, but is inexplicably not.

Art by Robinick Fernandez

Robinick Fernandez is a prolific and visionary creative director whose work blends the worlds of art, architecture, design, and fashion. For two decades Robinick Fernandez connected art with design for global brands, and his work has left an impact having navigated across many countries and cultures including Europe, Asia, the United States and beyond. For his next venture, he celebrates his Filipino American roots as Creative Director for JoySauce, being committed to cultural storytelling, sustainability, forward-thinking design, and conscious content .