Age has little to do with beaten Demi's wandering toyboy
It's unfair to blame the cougar queen just because she dared to defy a social norm, writes Julia Molony
So Jennifer Aniston is temporarily unavailable as a celebrity figure of schadenfreude cloaked as pity.
She's busy having a good time with her new fella and has thus relieved whole factions of the world media of their self-appointed duty of faux concern. Naturally then, attention has turned to the pitiable state of the life of Demi Moore instead.
There she is now, her role reversed from queen of the cougars to cautionary tale overnight -- or as quick as it takes to tweet photographs of Ashton Kutcher surrounded by blondes.
With scant information on what actually happened, and no official comment from the couple themselves, (Demi briefly unfollowed Ashton on twitter, then changed her mind and followed him again, but has otherwise been silent on the subject) the commentariat, in it's pursuit of some insight into Demi's state of mind, have naturally turned their beady eyes to her body.
She is, we are told in blaring headlines, looking "dangerously thin". In the absence of an official statement to work from, it's necessary to spin a story from her figure.
Demi, who has fought harder than most in her battle to maintain a Hollywood-acceptable image, has been cast in all this as having finally been beaten. Underneath the concern for her welfare is a palpable admonishment for her hubris. Did she really believe that she could challenge the status quo?
This dynamic works between an older man and a younger woman -- that much has been proven time and again. When Demi's ex, Bruce Willis, married a woman a couple of decades his junior, the world barely blinked an eye. But in her own marital choices, Demi was regarded as flouting some deep ingrained cultural code.
With the exception of Madonna, there aren't many precedents for the sort of form-defying lifestyle that Demi, thanks to considerable effort, maintained. Her face, her body and her attitude all place her at least 15-20 years below her actual age. But the ultimate accessory, the spoils of all this effort, were the desire and devotion of Ashton. Her husband is young (15 years younger) hot, and a pin-up of popular culture.
When Ashton was caught frolicking in a hot tub surrounded by busty blondes (he's obviously a man with a fondness for cliche) the Demi Moore project was widely considered to have failed.
In Demi's exhaustive efforts to stay in the game rather than slipping quietly into invisibility, she seems finally to have been beaten.
This might actually have some meaning, were it not for the fact that the kind of crisis Demi is going through in her marriage happens to many women, and indeed many men, of every age. Let's not rush to cast her as culpable just because she dared to defy a social norm.
It's hardly as if she's the first person ever to have been humiliated by the extra-marital antics of a spouse. And after a decade-long relationship, is it really all that shocking that Ashton strayed? More importantly, why the automatic assumption that his pursuit of sexual variety outside his marriage had anything at all to do with his wife's age?
It's become a too familiar feature of the celebrity love-cheat scandal, this desire to find fault in the wounded party. When it happened to Cheryl Cole, her age clearly wasn't an issue, so commentators focused instead on her devotion to her career, naming that as a cause for Ashely's failings. This seems so ridiculous. Especially when it's fairly clear to most people that when infidelity happens, it usually isn't because the straying party thinks their spouse is too boring, too ambitious or, for that matter, too old. Very often it's quite simply because for any given person, no matter what age, monogamy -- especially within a relationship of many years' standing -- is pretty hard.
The general view seems to be that Demi got her comeuppance when her toyboy husband was led astray. Beneath the biting commentary about her frail emotional state and the criticism of how she looks lies a clear judgement -- all that exhausting exercise and painful surgery couldn't save her from succumbing to the natural law of things. That somehow she is being punished for reversing the traditional age and status dynamic between men and women.
Relationships go wrong and it can be brutal. That is the simple, universal truth at work between Demi and Ashton. Age has little to do with it.