This morning, it was reported that Angelina Jolie is prepared to give testimony regarding her allegations of domestic violence against Brad Pitt as part of her their divorce proceedings. According to court documents obtained by The Blast, their six children may also testify - although three of them would need parental consent from both Brad and Angelina because they are minors.
The documents state Jolie is willing to give ‘proof and authority’ in support of the alleged domestic abuse during their marriage. Pitt is yet to issue a statement about the allegations, despite numerous requests for comment from various publications.
The divorce proceedings have been ongoing since 2016 when Jolie first filed (citing ‘irreconcilable differences’). She said in multiple interviews that the separation was for their family’s ‘well-being’. The year she filed for divorce, it was alleged that there had been an incident involving Pitt and his then 15-year-old son Maddox while aboard the family’s private plane.
People magazine reported that Maddox had intervened to defend his mother during an argument between Jolie and Pitt, with a source closed to Pitt saying he had been ‘drunk, and there was an argument between him and Angelina… There was a parent-child argument which was not handled in the right way and escalated more than it should have.’
Pitt denied hitting Maddox after the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services launched an investigation into him. The case was later dropped and Pitt was cleared of criminal wrongdoing. Pitt then began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that same month, with the actor telling The New York Times in 2019 that he achieved sobriety over the course of 18-months in the programme.
With divorce proceedings continuing over the last five years, the couple have been locked in disagreements about custody and property. In August of 2020, Jolie requested that the private judge handling the divorce proceedings, Judge John W. Ouderkirk, be replaced because he failed to disclose his past business relationships with one of Pitt’s attorneys – according to the Associated Press.
Jolie's lawyers lost the bid, however, according to court documents filed obtained by the Daily Mail. The Superior Court of California in Orange County ruled that the judge could remain on the case because he had made the required disclosures of when he had previously been involved in cases with the law firm representing Pitt. Ouderkirk did not release a public statement on the matter.
Now, as court documents show Jolie intends to provide 'proof' of the domestic abuse allegations, the world is reacting on social media. As is typical, there are extreme camps on either side. Many are defending Pitt – pleading ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and making inappropriate comparisons to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s divorce (which, for the record, has nothing to do with this and should not be used as a benchmark to judge other domestic abuse claims) – while others are supporting Jolie.
We must not to let fanaticism for someone’s talent, work or perceived personality guide our judgements.
Fans taking sides seems to be inevitable when it comes to such allegations, but we must remember more than anything not to let fanaticism for someone’s talent, work or perceived personality guide our judgements. Whether we have watched an actor on our screens our whole lives or not, whether we have seen them do good things or come across well in interviews, that has no bearing on who they really are behind the scenes.
Narratives are placed on male and female celebrities differently throughout their lives. For so long, Pitt has been the ‘nice guy’ everyone roots for, while Jolie has never quite shaken off the negative connotations she garnered simply for falling in love with Pitt in the first place. Even today, she was pit against Jennifer Aniston on social media for what feels like the millionth time, despite the fact we should know by now Pitt was just as culpable in hurting Aniston as Jolie was – if anything, he should’ve always been held more accountable given he was the one who made commitments of loyalty to her, not Jolie.
Decades later, even with all her philanthropy and humanitarian work, even as a mother of six children, people still view her with the same sexist lens they did after becoming involved with Pitt in 2004.
Women like Jolie, those cast as a mysterious and dangerous sex symbol - then literally cast as evil vixens simply by virtue of being brunette and having good bone structure - are so often burdened with reputations they don’t deserve – almost always guided by external and internalised misogyny, plus our own insecurities being projected onto others.
We should know by now, thanks to the countless people exposed during various movements over the years, that the fanaticism with which we view celebrities is rarely representative of who they are.
So before tweeting your support or condemnation for either 'side', think about the many people close to you who will see it and remember – we can’t know what someone is like in the privacy of their own home, regardless of how much we love them on screen.