Who started the brutal online war between Anistonites and Angelinans? And why do they care so much?
A battle has been raging on Internet message boards, celebrity gossip sites, and Facebook forums and it’s getting ugly.
JENNIFER ANISTON—GET OVER IT!!!!!!! YOU'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN!! STOP DWELLING IN THE PAST!!!
ANGELINA = ADULTERER, FREAK, BROTHER KISSER. KARMA'S A BIATCH!!!!”
“Next thing I know, I am literally lying on a bed as a teenager, closing my eyes, visualizing her, and you guessed it! I climax.”
This ancient struggle between devotees of Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie is not about a piece of Holy Land, but it is no less passionate. After all, its roots lie in the breaking of one and possibly two commandments—the coveting another woman’s husband, Brad Pitt, and alleged adultery. And as with all great global conflicts, there are always new wounds. The most recent escalation came in October, when Jolie, referring to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the film she made with Pitt, told the New York Times: “…not a lot of people get to see a movie where their parents fell in love.” The comment spurred worldwide headlines: “Angelina Stabs Jen in the Heart,” and “Angelina Jolie: I Fell in Love with Brad When He Was Still With Jen.”
Then last month, in a brutal episode that had been anticipated for some time, Aniston’s latest film, Marley & Me opened opposite Pitt’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and earned the top spot in the box office for two consecutive weeks.
That same month, Aniston broke her silence over L’Affaire Jolie, telling Vogue that what Jolie had done was “really uncool” and admitting to Oprah Winfrey that she had expressed her rage for Angelina “as honestly as I could.” Then she appeared in GQ (in a piece called “ Lordy, Lordy, This Woman is 40,” where she posed triumphantly, in nothing but a necktie.
It was on.
But who are these warriors so willing to deploy their Caps Lock keys in the name of their chosen people? And why do they feel such a need to commit Jen-icide or declare Angie-had on behalf of celebrities they will never meet? The Daily Beast contacted a few of the more fervent Anistonites and Angelinans to understand the motives behind the brutal and unnecessary conflict.
One passionate Anistonite is Rachel, a 21-year-old student in Orange County, California. When she wakes up, Rachel immediately checks her various e-mail addresses, MySpace and Facebook accounts, all dedicated to you-know-who. She responds to messages from different fans, and then checks all Aniston-related news. By 9 a.m., Rachel is in her college psychology class, but she’s not paying attention. “I average a ‘B’ in school,” she says. “I am totally focused on Jen.”
After school, Rachel works the register at The Coffee Bean, which, perhaps not coincidentally, parallels the career of another Rachel—on Friends. The money she earns finances her fansite, and the Anistoniana that plasters her walls. “My bedroom, oh my god, covered with Jen,” she says.
Rachel admits her obsession with all things Aniston comes from their shared family history. “I think I can best relate to her because my father also walked out,” Rachel says. “Jen taught me how to forgive.” Rachel, like Aniston’s many devout followers, is inspired by absent family, strength in the face of adultery and triumphs in her career. “I am just so madly in love with Goddess Jen,” Rachel explains. “Jen is my religion.”
Such devotion has even led to less-than-holy thoughts about her goddess. She describes herself as bisexual, explaining: “When I first started to watch Friends, I started to research Jen, and I guess a little crush started,” she writes. “Next thing I know, I am literally lying on a bed as a teenager, closing my eyes, visualizing her, and you guessed it! I climax.”
A slightly less hands-on Aninistonite is JaNai, a 28-year-old hospital worker and aspiring singer from the Bay Area. She also cites a deep personal connection to her devotion. “The reason I like Jennifer Aniston and have a loyalty to her is because of my ex cheating on me several times,” she told The Daily Beast. “We were married and he was my first love.” And Aniston’s on-again-off-again relationships since her divorce are all too familiar. “I have tried to move on and date other people like Jennifer,” JaNai says, “But I also have had several failed attempts.” JaNai spends roughly four to eight hours a week reading and commenting on Aniston-related articles and websites. “She reminds me of myself,” she says.
On the other side of this A-list intifada are the Angelinans, who defend their idol’s looks —her lips, her hips—the way their enemies defend Aniston’s character. They also tend to be male.
Bryan Williams of Jacksonville, Florida, who runs a Jolie page on Facebook, says he would happily marry the woman Pitt hasn’t—for religious reasons, of course. “I am a Baptist and my religion says ‘he who finds a wife has good thing’—and my good thing would be Angelina.”
And while Angelinans are perhaps prone to greater online vitriol than their counterparts, they seem to share a broader worldview, much like their UN Ambassador leader: “Just like the Rep. party, YOU LOST! get over yourself!!!!!!”
If peace is ever to be reached in our time, however, it will take wise Angelinans like Mohammad Nofal of Jordan, who believes there may be greater conflicts to consider. “GAZA JUST GAZA,” Nofal declared. “After that we can talk about any thing else.”
Isabel Wilkinson is a Daily Beast intern who attends Columbia Journalism School. She has written for New York magazine and Women’s Wear Daily.