So George Clooney got married to Amal Alamuddin this weekend! Congratulations to him. But congratulations to him especially for realizing that he married up. That's right: a) he admitted that when he got engaged this past April (#recognize), and b) his wife is an internationally-acclaimed human rights lawyer. Do you know what I'm not? That. And neither is he. And probably neither are you. Internationally-acclaimed human rights lawyers? Not just like us. Stars, however, they are. Really.
Nothing puts the baffling nature of the Hollywood star system in check like the presence of somebody who has nothing to do with that system at all. Thirty-six-year-old Alamuddin is a dual-qualified English barrister AND a New York litigation attorney who — in the words of The Businesswoman Media and their perfect article — has "long been a high-profile figure in international refugee and human rights law." She's represented the likes of Julian Assange, and she serves on the expert panel of Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, which gathers evidence of sexual crimes committed in conflict zones.
She does. not. fuck. around.
And now she's married to George Clooney which, as much as she's probably stoked to have had a really great weekend with him, is just another chapter in her impressive-as-hell book. She will not be defined by this relationship, she is not his trophy wife — she is a baller of a woman who is literally saving lives. She is as high up in her field as she is because she's clearly got work ethic we can only dream to have. George Clooney, on the other hand, plays pretend for a living.
Now, there is nothing wrong with playing pretend. (Or, I guess, acting.) Acting is the best! Movies are the best and TV is the best, and I will never discredit how important both of those things are. Ideally, pop culture is supposed to make us think or make us happy or help us escape our personal shitstorms for about two hours (or more, if you're binge-watching something). But the "Hollywood star system" does none of those things. It puts people on pedestals, tears those same people down, and sets unrealistic expectations for everything. I mean, George Clooney is a man. He is a dude who makes and stars in good (great?) movies — and for what felt like forever, the media claimed every woman wasn't good enough for him.
See? The Hollywood star system. Totally fucked. Especially since George Clooney was considered the holy grail of single men for years while Jennifer Aniston is still considered "tragic" for having been left for Angelina Jolie by Brad Pitt . . . almost ten years ago. (And she's engaged now. And she's a movie star. So, huh?!)
But we know how flawed this system's become. Everyone knows. George Clooney knows! But nothing reminds us that we know, like seeing a force like Alamuddin roll in, inspiring the shit out of us, then saying, "Sure! I'll marry this guy!" who just happens to be an actor. Not a dude who saves lives (ER wasn't real) or someone who actively seeks to stop and prevent sex crimes in war-torn countries. A guy who plays pretend. They liked each other, so they got married. The way everyone else does.
Ultimately, no one here is better than anybody. (Minus Alamuddin — like, I will say that her job does make her better than most of us.) We are all just people — stars included — who are trying their best, and trying to make their dreams come true, and trying to get through that process without combusting in some capacity. And it's relationships like George and Amal's that are a keen reminder of that sentiment: he is a person. A person all of us recognize, but just a person nonetheless. He is a "star," but he is just like us — a human. Who I'm willing to bet can't believe somebody as strong, powerful, and inspiring as his wife thought, "I'll marry this dude! I mean, why not?"
Alamuddin, on the other hand, is a reminder that if you work harder than you've ever worked in your life, you can literally change the world. But she was actually proof of that long before we aligned her name with George Clooney's, and she'll be a reminder of that well, forever.