Commentary

Odds And Endings: Aniston's Eyes, And The Sins Of The Fathers

So, this is my swan song for Mad Blog. (I will let my colleague Bob Garfield explain the nuts and bolts here.)

But I’d rather not look back.

Instead, let’s touch on some of the petty/bitchy stuff that I never got to cover.

Like Jennifer Aniston’s tears.

Now, I know this is hardly an issue facing the nation.

Besides, the intense, eyeball-based acting she’s forced to do here takes guts.

But really, Jen, aren’t you slightly off-brand with this rather imperious script?

“My friends know me so well,” Aniston opens up to the camera, while curling up on the floor with a good script in a cozy Malibu-ish living room.

“They can tell what I’m thinking just by looking at my eyes,“ she glares.

Wow. That’s amazing! Because we mortals have all sort of depended on these exact same orbs for eons! Plus, these face parts have already been dubbed the windows-to-the soul, and all that.

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But Jen, if you tend to use your own, personal ice-blue sight organs (which seem color-corrected here to about 11) as gamma rays to punish friends who have made you “not-so-happy-and-excited,” well, that’s TMI.

But the actual reveal, EyeLove-wise, comes later in the spot.

“What they didn’t know was that I had dry, itchy eyes,” Jen says.

I understand.  It’s all about keeping secrets from the “Friends.” (Get it?)

See, Eyelove means never having to say you’re sorry, or even not-so-happy, with your peeps.  We’re not in Central Perk anymore. And obviously, we get an intimate glimpse into how important your eyes are to you, given the way you like to use them when eyeballing scripts at home and all.

This isn’t the first time Ms. Aniston has come off as a bit too snooty in an ad. She did one spot for Arab Emirates Airlines that critics on Fox News called “elitist.”

She followed that up with a truly awkward attempt to befriend a regular, (less well-heeled?) family in Emirates coach, while she runs around the plane in 6-inch golden stilettos. (Their son, Sucralose, I mean Cooper, provides the too-cute-for-words entrée.)  As with the tabloids constantly announcing her phantom pregnancy (with twins, even) I guess the point here is to show Jen as a kindly, twinkly, superstar, but still natural mom!

Then there’s the work she does for Aveeno lotion, Glaceau Smartwater, and L’Oreal.

My advice? Jen, honey, lay off the endorsements for a while.

I have normal, old, but not-terribly dry-peepers, but even I can see that as a pitchwoman, you might be getting overexposed. Save some acting time for a really sad, soapy, future movie, where there won’t be a chronic dry eye in the house.

Now on to my never-ending sources of fascination and soap opera, the Trumps. (Hey, don’t blame me. I won’t have them to kick around anymore with Mad Blog gone.)  

After their grand trip abroad, with all of the wardrobes, family headgear, and Kabuki-like hand movements on display, I became mesmerized with the Don Dynasty, particularly his bizarre hold on, and (father-substitute?) relationship with (chronically overloaded ) Jared.

It’s all so Sins of the Fathers Biblical, or Shakespearean Learian, or  (you could name about 100 movies here, but I nominate “The Great Santini").  Or the opposite of Oedipal.

I fixated on this because I had just watched the HBO one-shot drama, “The Wizard of Lies” about Bernie Madoff and sons.

It’s very well done, and DeNiro is great as Madoff.  I thought I knew the story pretty well, and had always imagined that the sons and Ruth had to have been in on that $65-billion-dollar Ponzi-osity, or at the very least had turned a blind (not dry) eye.

But this production convinced me that they didn’t know.

It would appear that they, like all of his investors, were endlessly duped and manipulated by their paterfamilias, an abusive sociopath. And had  2008 not happened, Madoff probably could have carried the lie on for at least another decade. His sons, Mark and Andrew, each died, tragically (suicide and cancer.)

But even in jail,  (a 150-year sentence) Madoff would not cop to having done anything so terrible. His clients were greedy, he said. And by having his sons run an actual brokerage firm on a different floor, he was both spoiling and actually protecting them, he felt. Other people did much worse, he claimed, still full of fury, denial, projection and self-preservation—all the touchstones of  a malignant narcissist.

Not coming from wealth myself, it’s hard for me to imagine not wanting to make your own path outside of the family business, from the beginning.

But in the end, Mark and Andrew were the ones who turned their dad in to the Feds and refused to speak to him or visit him in jail. They also cut off their mother for having any contact with their father.

Meanwhile, Jared Kushner, also the son of a man who’d built a financial dynasty, remained a loyal son to his own father, Charles, while he was in the slammer in Alabama for his own lurid crimes. Just out of college, Jared dutifully visited once a week, ran the family business, and actually defended his father in public (just as he would later defend Trump publicly from charges of anti-Semitism.)

And, as with the so famous it’s now a cliché Michael Corleone line, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” I thought Ivanka and Jared (both of whom I used to be impressed with) would  want to separate, and live their own lives.

At one point, President Trump even admitted that he “stole” Ivanka’s husband from her, to install him as his right hand in the White House with an impossible portfolio.  

Of course,Trump  has publicly lusted after Ivanka and Jared perhaps lusts after a father. And maybe Trump sees himself in Jared, while he disses his own sons.

 I don’t know. Perhaps they are both seduced by the con, never thought it would last, and ultimately want to get caught, like Bernie.

It will unfold in due time.

I am very grateful to all the people at MediaPost for giving me the chance to write about anything I wanted, with no editorial meddling. I’m indebted to my editor, Phyllis Fine, and her patience.  I also thank top guys Joe Mandese and Ken Fadner.

I want to salute my readers, and commenters, who made life so delightful and whose feedback I always so appreciated.

This column was named for  the TV show that I deconstructed each week: “Mad Men.”

That was the most fun assignment I ever had.  

So I’ll leave with a quote from Don Draper. While he was still lucid and a rising star, he told his protégé, Peggy, “The living is in the not knowing. “

And if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have something in my eye.

17 comments about "Odds And Endings: Aniston's Eyes, And The Sins Of The Fathers".
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  1. Stacy DeBroff from Influence Central, May 26, 2017 at 6:44 p.m.

    Sadness! Hope your eloquence finds a new worthy outlet!! 

  2. Dean Fox from ScreenTwo LLC, May 26, 2017 at 6:48 p.m.

    Oh, no, not you, too! Bob's and your columns were my only link to my couple of decades in the agency business, where I worked with so many sharp people who were so funny, cynical, thoughtful, creative and sarcastic, all at once! They helped me stay (relatively) sane and optimistic.  I'm sure I speak for many of your fans when I tell you that your delightful ruminations will be greatly missed.

  3. Mike Kilroy from Global Results Communications, May 26, 2017 at 7:01 p.m.

    Have really enjoyed your writing, Barbara - always fun, lively and informative.  Wish you the best.

    (...and what was that a snippet of the Beatles "All You Need Is Love" in that Aniston commercial?)

  4. Gerard Corbett from Redphlag LLC, May 26, 2017 at 7:24 p.m.

    Encore, encore and touche!!!

    Please keep us posted Barbara!!!

  5. Terry Wall from First Impressions VIdeo, May 26, 2017 at 7:36 p.m.

    So Barb, are you and Bob BOTH leaving? I clicked the link that you alluded to in your story, and saw that he's bidding HIS swan song, TOO!

    That's REALLY a shame and we will truly miss you both! As one who came from print media (a long time ago in a place far, far away!), too, it's a sad--but inevitible--truth. 

    I wish you both well!
    ~TW

  6. Dale Gluck from Gluck/Prichard, May 26, 2017 at 9:53 p.m.

    Barbara, thank you for years of enjoyable provocation, all the way back to Adweek. Much appreciated. 

  7. Don Perman from self, May 26, 2017 at 9:57 p.m.

    A beautiful final column.   What a loss to readers.  Congratulations on fine work.

  8. Deirdre Hanssen from The Promo Zone, May 26, 2017 at 10:54 p.m.

    As usual, Barbara, another terrific column. So sorry it is your last here. But there is so much more for you to say, and since you always say it so well, there has to be another venue worthy of your talents. I hope we see you elsewhere in print very soon. 

  9. Victoria Rowan from Ideasmyth.com, May 27, 2017 at 7:49 a.m.

    Barbara--! What a finale! Your commentary has always been a top favorite pop culture read! Your Facebook feed is not enough for your fans! Can't wait to read where you get scooped up next!

  10. Kenneth Hittel from Ken Hittel, May 27, 2017 at 12:11 p.m.

    Without Grafield and Lippert, I'm not sure what part MediaPost will continue to play in my life. Might as well get rid of Gord now, too...

  11. David Mountain from Marketing and Advertising Direction, May 28, 2017 at 1:18 p.m.

    What Ken said. I've also seen some howler typos in the last week. MP is teetering.

  12. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network, May 28, 2017 at 1:47 p.m.


    Damn.  Just damn. 

  13. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 28, 2017 at 11:44 p.m.

    A shonda. A total shonda. Shame. Shame. Shame. MP has some of the best in the business in media, technology, PR, advertising and it decides the best thing for them is to let their 2 best columnists go. What hope does any publisher hope to make the grade if the best can't do it ? You want to know one of the things that put newspapers into a vortex ? Barbara, you will rise like the Phoenix.

  14. Ngoc T from Iowa, May 30, 2017 at 10:55 a.m.

    I shake my head in disbelief, and bid you peaceful transition. Thanks for the reads.

  15. Barry Abrams from M. Shanken Communications, May 30, 2017 at 12:55 p.m.

    Barbara, what a delight reading your words over the years.  It's been a tour-de-force of insightful commentary, criticism, history of all sorts and a wicked (not dry) eye for what is hip and what is not.  I had the great pleasure of knowing you just a bit during the "Wonder Years" at ADWEEK and wish you happiest of trails ahead.  Thank you for a great ride!  As for my eyes, it's unfathomable tears of sadness to see you go... 

  16. Jim English from The Met Museum, May 30, 2017 at 2:25 p.m.

    Still the best,  Barbara. Will catch you at your next gig.

  17. Mark Hornung from MBrandSF, May 30, 2017 at 6:24 p.m.

    First Bob Garfield. And now YOU?!?!

    Sorry, MediaPost, if you're going to get rid of talent such as these, you're going to lose eyeballs. Such as mine. 

    Good luck and God speed, Barbara. I looked forward to your column every week.

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