When news broke Tuesday that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, America gasped in schadenfreudian shock. A divorce involving young children is no one’s definition of good news, of course. But when the other headlines are as grim as this year’s are, the sudden breakup of two gorgeous superstars counts as a refreshing palate cleanser. It’s an excuse to talk about sex and pot and parenting, instead of racism and xenophobia and fascism. We deserved this. We needed this.
Well, after a mere two days of Aniston gifs and #brangelexit jokes, this amuse bouche is now turning less amusing. This morning, TMZ reported that Pitt is being investigated for child abuse by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. TMZ also reported that the LAPD was looking into the allegations, but the police department tells US Weekly that “there are no active investigations regarding Brad Pitt.”
The incident in question occurred last week when, TMZ claims, Pitt “got wasted” on a private jet. So far, so good! What is more satisfying than hearing that a millionaire has thrown a drunken tantrum on his own personal airplane? Unfortunately, as today’s account has it, Jolie and at least some of the couple’s children were also on the plane and “he allegedly went wild, screaming and getting physical with the kids.” After the plane landed, Pitt continued to “rant” on the tarmac, and apparently attempted to leave the scene in a fuel truck parked nearby. An anonymous source tells People that someone on the tarmac anonymously reported the incident. A formal DCFS investigation is standard practice when reports like this are made to authorities.
TMZ says that both Jolie and Pitt have already been interviewed by the DCFS. A Pitt source has been telling various news outlets today, “He takes the matter very seriously and says he did not commit any abuse of his children," and that “it's unfortunate that people involved are continuing to present him in the worst possible light.” Although
Patience and skepticism are warranted here, and not just because of the conflicting early reports on the details of the investigation. We don’t know what really happened on the plane; we don’t know who reported it, and what their motives might have been. This is not just a high-dollar divorce, it’s a high-stakes P.R. war. And it’s one that seems destined to get uglier.
While responsible gossip consumers wait patiently for clarity that may never come, a question: Must all of America’s best scandals eventually turn dark? Johnny Depp’s abrupt divorce last spring seemed like perfect tabloid fodder, and then it quickly spiraled into allegations of ongoing violence and abuse. Just yesterday, former congressman Anthony Weiner’s years-long sexting scandal turned from story that had previously featured a bunch of consenting adults bantering painfully online into a story about a 52-year-old man (allegedly) texting a 15-year-old about rape fantasies. At least we had a few years to enjoy “Carlos Danger” together as a nation. We’ve had mere days to experience the Brangelina split as a guilty pleasure. Celebrities, we’re begging you: Keep your scandals shocking but not depressing. Now more than ever, your country needs you.