We reached a pop culture milestone this weekend, as it emerged Bennifer has tied the knot.
After a 20-year break, marriage scandal and splits, Super Bowl performances, and the iconic ‘Sad Affleck’ meme, it was finally time to say their I Dos.
Jennifer Affleck (nee Lopez) released details of their wedding via her personal newsletter (how A List celebrities issue press releases nowadays). They flew into Vegas, stood in line for their licence with four other couples and exchanged vows after midnight at the Little White Chapel.
They decided against an Elvis impersonator to officiate as he cost extra and was — according to the Hustlers star — already in bed. She wore a dress from an old movie and Ben, “a jacket from his closet” and they posed for photos in a vintage pink Cadillac. Only close family were there. It’s a far cry from their called-off wedding in 2004 when they were planning to have three decoy brides to stave off unwanted media attention.
Two things struck me about this wedding; the first is that surely we have now crested the wave of noughties nostalgia. Between this, the Wag-atha Christie courtroom drama of Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney, and the looming return of low-rise jeans, we have reached the crescendo of Y2K romanticism.
But where do we go from the Bennifer matrimony? Their love story (breaking up and reuniting two colourful decades later) feels like the pinnacle of noughties pop culture. Surely by now, we must find another decade to lionise?
The second talking point is the surname. Jennifer signs off her newsletter with her new title. “With Love, Jennifer Lynn Affleck”. The name change will come as no surprise to hardcore fans who remember vividly their first engagement. Back in 2003, when Lopez was interviewed for Access Hollywood, she said she intended to take Affleck’s name. “My name will be Jennifer Affleck, obviously”. Although she knowingly conceded that J-Aff has less of a ring to it than J-Lo.
Names and marriage are such an area of fascination for many of us. On one hand, changing your surname to match your spouse can feel a bit ‘ye olde worlde’. On the other hand, many see it as a romantic homage and the start of blending your new family.
It’s not something I pretend to understand; from a young age I knew I would never adopt someone else’s surname. The only exception to this rule was if I married Julian Casablancas from The Strokes because as a teen, I thought Kirsty Casablancas sounded impossibly cool. But, sadly, that pipe dream never materialised.
But I am in the minority. The majority of women want to change their names. According to the BBC, a 2016 UK survey showed that 85pc of women between the ages 18-30 intended to take their future husband’s name. The women surveyed cited various reasons — wanting to distance themselves from their origin family, some thought it was pure romantic, some weren’t that into their own name. Many said they would change their name as it gave the impression of a strong and ‘united family’. That surprised me. Are we really naive enough to believe a lasting marriage is more achievable if everyone has the same ‘brand name’?
There’s an argument that adopting your husband’s name is anti-feminist, after all back in the day it was done to establish to whom women belonged. Some sociologists say its retention is a reflection of generational patriarchal structures. It’s not always that loaded though — sometimes people just fancy a change, and want to mix things up. Sometimes, people just want to buy into that fairytale romance. And who could blame them, or the newly crowned J-Aff, for wanting that?
My only ask is that there is more push in the other direction. There has already been a sharp increase in hybrid and hyphenated surnames, and according to Irish deed poll figures a doubling of double barrels over the past 10 years. But I’d love to see more men going all in and taking their wives’ names too. Just to balance things out a bit. Or if that doesn’t suit, perhaps we could just start making up entirely new surnames altogether.
How cool would it be if Bennifer had done a surname switcheroo; Jennifer Affleck and Ben Lopez? Or if they had both legally changed their surnames to Bennifer?
A little awkward, yes, but it would have been so wonderfully subversive. And certainly more memorable than becoming The Afflecks.
Restaurateurs in the US are being targeted by one-star Google reviews. A ‘tidal wave of bad reviews’ started cropping up for celebrated restaurants in Chicago and San Francisco, and then a note saying the poor ratings would continue unless restaurant owners handed over $75 on a gift card. Yikes. Anonymous ratings on Tripadvisor and Google should be taken with a grain of salt. Comedian Alan Carr once said he came across a Tripadvisor two-star review of Stonehenge complaining ‘there was no coffee shop’. Clearly, a little discretion is needed.
Talking of restaurants. Had your fill of nice meals out and top notch service? Well it seems you are not alone.
There’s a new restaurant in the UK called Karen’s Diner where wait staff are instructed to be rude as they like to the clientele. That’s the USP. The immersive rockabilly restaurant chain started out in Sydney, Australia and became so popular that they have branched out in Sheffield and Manchester.
The UK Times sent a reporter to suss out the place. Inside, staff ridiculed people about being vegan, menus were chucked about the place like frisbees, someone gave a diner a dunce’s hat with I’m A Virgin written on it, and everyone laughed at one man’s unfortunate teeth implants.
There are some cut-off points — staff are not allowed to mock people with disabilities, or make racist or sexist comments. But outside that everything and anything is fair game, and people seem to love it. “It’s quite a thrill to be called a ‘cheap little slag’, and pay for the privilege,” the Times reporter notes.
Listen, I get the appeal from servers’ POV. After years of putting up with nightmare customers, it must be liberating to be able to give them an earful. But what are the punters getting from it? The Times claims that in a world where brands are so eager to appear progressive, a restaurant going against the grain feels daring.
I think the answer is more simple — we all love returning from a night out with a good story. And it’s hard to trump someone hurling a menu at your head and calling you a loser before serving you a basketful of fries.