The day love died

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone;

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum,

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.”

YOU would be forgiven for thinking these poignant words from poet, W.H. Auden, were in reference to the sudden passing of, say, Malala Yousafzai or some equally highly respected humanitarian figure.B ut nay, it is an altogether different death that is being mourned: that of Brangelina.

Arguably Hollywood’s most magnetic couple over the last decade, the news of their separation sent shock waves rippling across global waters – to the extent that some feel it has even overshadowed the UN Summit on refugees currently taking place in the US.

That Angelina is herself a Special Envoy to the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees is an irony not lost on those squawking over the timing of the split. While public sentiment on the matter might be somewhat exaggerated (with one Twitterati declaring, “Love is cancelled. As a matter of fact, 2016 is cancelled. Wake me up when it’s January 2017.”), there is an undeniable sense of witnessing the crumbling of an institution.

Not the institution of marriage per se (hell, these days getting divorced at least once in your lifetime has become a rite of passage), but rather, one cultivated by fairytale notions that there really can be a happily-ever-after…That despite the tricky start (after all, adultery is hardly the stuff romantic tales are spun from); despite the public disapproval and “homewrecker” labels bandied about; despite the shame, the pain and the sorrow inflicted on those who became collateral damage, the dazzling princess and her dashing knight would indeed ride off into the sunset of eternal love. Because love conquers all. Doesn’t it?\

Over the couple’s 12-year relationship, we bore testimony to Brangelina’s evolution from sexualised social pariahs, to soulmates with a shared passion for philanthropic causes, who thrived on playing parents to their ever-expanding brood, while generally remaining as “real” as their celebrity standing – and shared net worth – would allow. But as is the nature of all things showbiz, once you shift through the smoke and mirrors, the fantasy reveals itself for what it really is: little more than clever special effects aimed at embellishing the mundane reality. A reality which exposes these seemingly god-like creatures for what they truly are: ordinary. For all the pin-up status, the glamour and the glory, they too face the same relationship foibles as we common plebs and they, too, are not quite the picture-perfect package we imagined them to be; neither as a husband-and-wife team, nor as individuals.

And therein lies the legitimate cause of our bereavement: if even the gods can fall from grace, what hope is there for us mere mortals?