It took place during the Venice Film Festival, held in early September. In the display of The Last Duel, directed by Ridley Scott, actor and director Ben Affleck got out of his car and briefly posed for the press. Then, with gestures of a master of ceremonies, he opened the door of the same car, letting his companion Jennifer Lopez out of it, which caused the ecstasy of the audience present. In late July, they confirmed on Instagram that, 17 years after their first romance, the rumors about their return were true. But her appearance – in Jennifer’s case, in the almost religious sense of the word – on Venice’s red carpet meant her debutante party as part of the couple.
A few days later, Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle, Dukes of Sussex, starred on the cover of the magazine Team in the number that presents the list of the most influential people in the world. The effect of the two couples whenever they make a move is similar: a flurry of comments, rapturous applause, and ravenous criticism. They embody the most powerful version of what in English is called power couple, powerful couple, one of the most representative cultural phenomena of our days. Why are we fascinated by them?
Before answering the question, an alert: to form a power couple it is not enough to have a sentimental relationship between two people with fame and recognized trajectories. There is an extra factor that causes this couple to arouse passions: some have it and others, no matter how much interest they arouse each of its members separately, don’t. Power does not consist solely of the result of the sum of the attraction of individuals, but of their multiplication. For example, although Jennifer López and Ben Affleck’s previous relationships – Alex Rodríguez and Ana de Armas – were also famous, they did not form a couple with the weight comparable to what they have now. Largely because they are revalidating the power they already had when they left together for the first time, between 2002 and 2004. They already caused a media uproar at the time that is still the object of analysis.
“The return of Jennifer López and Ben Affleck represents the return of hope”, says journalist specialist in social chronicle Martín Bianchi. “After more than a year of pandemic, the confinement ended with thousands of marriages, not only in the entertainment world. We all know someone in existential and sentimental crisis, everyone can feel identified with these emotions, with the expectation of living a new beginning. This explains the fascination for this story, in addition to taking place twenty years after their previous relationship. It parallels Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; it took them 16 months to get back together and it took Jennifer and Ben 20 years. Going back with an ex can be a big mistake, but going back with an ex twenty years later can be a hit, because they’re not the same people anymore.”
Those who invented it all
When speaking of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Bianchi cites the supercouple canon par excellence. There were other iconic couples in Hollywood who multiplied their fame by getting together, such as the one formed by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, but the protagonists of Cleopatra (1963) made a difference and established the mold that today’s famous couples follow: they need to be famous each on their own and even more famous when they are together. They must support themselves in their careers and multiply their professional successes. Some couples even receive a proper name that symbolizes that the couple is something more than two people united: it is, directly, an entity with a life of its own. “Liz and Dick” are the precedent of Bennifer (Ben and Jennifer), Brangeline (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), Kimye (Kanye West and Kim Kardashian), Tomkat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) and Robsten (Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson). In the case of Harry and Meghan Markle, the neologism created is Megxit, which makes reference to her particular brexit of the British royal family, in a term not exempt from machismo by placing responsibility on her.
All these characteristics of the super couple are also fulfilled in Harry and Meghan, to the point of Team choose them as the most influential people in the world, certifying their status as a highly synchronized couple and fully committed to joint personal and work projects that fight against a common enemy (the British monarchy). Archie (their first child) and Archewell, the charitable organization they will fight for the visibility of mental disorders, share the name. Harry and Meghan would be halfway between the usual power couple, formed by celebrities, and the couple with real political influence, such as Barack and Michelle Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, who sold their presidential career – his – with the motto “two for the price of one”. Juan Domingo Perón and his wife Evita are an even clearer example of how her charisma helped boost his political career.
There’s more: Beyoncé and Jay-Z, George and Amal Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, and the Spanish examples of Isabel Preysler and Mario Vargas Llosa and David Muñoz and Cristina Pedroche (who has the extra appeal of to be two young people from humble origins who ended up in the pages of Hola!). But the world of super couples is not restricted to the reality of politicians and celebrities like the aforementioned. The idea of being part of a solid couple turned into a desire that mixes sentimental, professional and personal fulfillment. This is manifested in an obvious way on social networks, where the fascination for the love of others is on the rise. the hashtags #powercoupleand #relationship goals (goals in a relationship) are often repeated in Instagram posts.
From golden Hollywood to a touch screen
But to be successful on the networks it is not enough just to perform an exhibition of love. “It’s not just a factor of luck,” says Javier García-Gallo, CEO of marketing agency Soy Olivia. “The generated content needs to give something to an interested audience, it can be, for example, feeling identified with their own situations, consuming their content as a kind of telecomedy that distracts. Anyway, the content needs to have a value proposition, they don’t become famous just for being a couple”. Thus, the profiles of the most successful couples usually offer, in addition to travel photos (such as the Do you travel account, which has already been dismantled and now only it appears in the photos), music (singers Camilo and Evaluna, who promote themselves with the “we are becoming one” phase, fashion (Jaimetoutcheztoi) and also activism (like the Devermuts, lately involved in polemics).
When we talk about power in a couple, it’s hard to find the balance, whether we’re talking about old-school celebrities and those that emerged with the growth of social media. And it’s not just the case that one of the members has more reach than the other, but that the couple themselves, like a two-headed hydra, gorge on each of their personalities separately. “At that time, this was the case of David and Victoria Beckham: Victoria aroused curiosity and began to be pursued more for being with a famous player than for her musical success with the Spice Girls”, says Jesús Vázquez Viedma, creator of the agency for representation and JVV events. “Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were very strong as a couple, but today the image of Justin has much less strength, even with another famous personality like Jessica Biel.” Javier García-Gallo agrees: “It’s like John Nash’s theory, everyone should do the best for themselves and for the couple. If you only work on the joint strategy, individuality is lost and, therefore, creative power”.
And what happens when the couple breaks up? Can supercouple members survive their demise? “This is a phenomenon that seems to me even more attractive, when a power couple dissolves and one of the members reveals itself as a unique personality”, says Martín Bianchi. “It happened with Sonny and Cher and Ike and Tina Turner; they were couples that were thought to exist only by the mere interaction between the two parties, it was impossible to dissociate them and when they broke up, they were the ones who finally moved on”.
What happens to these couples whose influence occurs on the networks and can quantify their success in terms of followers in a very simple way? Javier García-Gallo responds: “They can survive if each one took care of their audiences separately. Evidently, there are couples in which one profile earns more than the other, but if during the time together they developed each account individually, there can be continuity, although surely there will have to be a reinvention”. And pay attention, because, as Jesús Vázquez Viedma says, “disruption also sells. You just need to know how to take advantage of it and not be harmed”.
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