Us Weekly: “So You’re Brad Pitt”

"So You're Brad Pitt"

By Anne T. Donahue

This week, Brad Pitt appeared on the cover of Us Weekly alongside the words, “Why his kids turned against him.” The headline stems from the news that daughter Shiloh Jolie dropped “Pitt” from her last name, representing yet another moment that’s come to define the “heartbreaking rift” between them.

The accompanying article quotes a source: “Brad’s putting on a brave face, but behind closed doors, he’s finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with [what’s happening].”

What’s happening, just so we’re clear, is that eight years after Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from now ex-husband Brad, we’ve been given a little more insight into what reads as an abusive marriage. In papers filed in 2022, Jolie alleged that Pitt had drunkenly abused her and two of their children on a flight in 2016, and that the related FBI investigation claimed there was enough evidence of this to charge Pitt with a federal crime. This year, court filings made by Jolie’s legal team alleged that the abuse predated the plane trip. Pitt has denied any abuse claims, but has also spoken to a history of addiction and his bad behaviour that accompanied it. And yet, we’re still wondering why – on the cover of a magazine – Brad Pitt’s kids are like, “Hard pass!”

This is what we love to do in media: we project the image we want to see of a person we’ve grown accustomed to, and then when their actions don’t match what we’ve perceived them as, we frame those actions in a way that fulfills a still-flattering narrative. I’m sure Brad Pitt is sorry for the (alleged) domestic violence. I think it’s great that he quit drinking if that’s what he needed to do. But he is also not the victim here. He is a grown-ass man who made decisions that became the catalyst for a broken family. How the members of that family have chosen to process, heal, and move on isn’t selfish or cruel, it’s how they’re coping with trauma.

Obviously, this isn’t a convenient explanation for anybody still stanning Brad Pitt. And frankly, it’s never convenient to learn that anybody you know and/or know of turns out to be predatory or abusive or problematic, etc. But the stakes are low for us mere fans. Our biggest challenge in the midst of these types of revelations is to unlearn how to be psyched for a movie we were looking forward to seeing when it came out. Because why would you want to publicly champion anybody whose actions intentionally caused pain?

I think this is why the whole “Poor Brad!” angle makes me so angry. On top of it being extraordinarily selfish (of Pitt’s team, who I assume provided any/all necessary sources), framing him as a grieving father sends a loud message to anyone who’s endured domestic or gendered violence. Basically, it tells everybody reading it that should the (alleged) abuser be popular enough, he is the one deserving of support – the one who’s truly suffering. It suggests that he is the victim of a smear campaign brought against him by an ex-wife out to see him fail. It sends the signal that if you come forward with your story, it will likely be accompanied by a disclaimer that no really, he’s a great guy, you just caught him on a bad day. Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about how great that guy is when he’s been proven to be violent or terrorizing or cruel or, or, or. I really don’t care who he is with the people that are already on his side. I want us to stop creating comeback stories and “poor thing!” features about adults who have always known better. I get that mistakes happen, but I also know that genuine mistakes tend to come with the understanding that a consequence for bad behaviour is that the people you have hurt don’t want anything to do with you anymore. That’s the trade-off – or at least it should be.

What Brad Pitt’s children choose to do is none of our business, but I can’t blame anyone for opting to cut someone out of their life who caused them pain. Who I can blame are the people who continue to excuse symptoms of the domestic violence epidemic because addressing them or holding abusers accountable is inconvenient. I get that Brad’s a celebrity, that he’s a stranger, that none of us were on the plane. But I also get that pity parties for alleged abusers are dog whistles that remind anyone listening that we don’t really care about anyone on the other side of gendered and domestic violence. That as long as he’s a great guy, really, he will always maintain his cultural or social cachet.

Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!

Tags: Anne T. Donahue, Brad Pitt, top story, topstory, US Weekly

Related Posts

Previous Post Next Post


  1. Avatar
    • Angel Ehm
    • June 13, 2024

    To be honest it is not our job to decide whether any of this is true, I don’t understand this need to know? So it’s found out the guy did have issues do we light our torches and make him fall to the ditch lose everything die? This seems to be how this goes? I watch a movie its because I like it, I wont boycott a movie because an actor in it that has crossed someline. They were acting in it, Its a movie I can still enjoy that because others put efforts into. This is where this goes. How about ourselves? How are we all doing as parents and as human beings? Has no one ever said or done anything they would be embarrassed about if it were found to be recorded or made public? Or inflated that is scary!! Rather tired of destructive gossip and just seeing these as headlines at all. To be honest they both have issues they came to the marriage table with. We all can have issues maybe not so public but we all have them maybe not this but we really don’t know except what is printed to sell magazines. Get the kids out of the limelight & make them the priority. not with stuff but with actual time spent together. No schedule no posted photos just time spent together where each person is actually present with each other, not just there. That is what matters at the end of life, not your job or legacy. That is my only advice. A Speech – Poem Titled ~ImPeRfEcT VeSsElS~
    We are All IMPERFECT VESSELS, We ALL Stand naked under our clothes. We begin the same end the same. Birth then Death, its what we do with the middle that counts! Love one another as YOU yourself wish to be loved. We are ALL in the Circle of Life TOGETHER,
    lets us live like it! Time is shorter than you realise, use the gift of life well. Strengthen your bonds in the present, the future is going to be a hard ride alone.

  2. Avatar
    • Sam
    • June 13, 2024

    Finally a good take! I agree with all of this, it’s really frustrating that the mainstream media outlets allow his PR to keep pushing this narrative whilst painting the victims of the abuse as villains.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *