Subject: Jennifer Lynn Lopez, 40-year-old American actress
Date of Assessment: April 23, 2010
Positive Buzzwords: Multitalented, badonkadonk
Negative Buzzwords: Diva, Bennifer, Gigli
The Case: As neo-hipster types with a discerning sense of taste, most of us don’t automatically think of Jennifer Lopez as a movie star so much as a tabloid staple, and when we hear buzzings of a potential “comeback,” it’s easy to laugh at what we assume has never rightfully existed anyway. After all, can you come back to somewhere you’ve never visited in the first place?
Upon further examination, one recalls that Jennifer “JLo” Lopez once rose from relatively humble beginnings as a member of the Fly Girls dance troupe on “In Living Colour” in the early 1990s. An extraordinary sense of
greed ambition drove JLo to a top-selling musical career and a rather promising start in movies as well. Although her first big-screen outing, Money Train, was pretty much a disaster, JLo rose from its ashes to appear in Francis Ford Coppola’s Jack before finding her breakthrough role as Selena (1997), for which she was strongly embraced by the Latino community for her portrayal of the up-and-coming pop star who found sudden fame but met a tragic end. Immediately thereafter, Lopez found herself much in demand and enjoyed a variety of roles in movies that included the blatantly idiotic Anaconda and the criminally underrated U Turn (if you haven’t seen that little gem, put it in your Netflix queue).
Soon, Lopez was also enjoying the upper echelon of the musical charts alongside her acting career, which seemed to show no signs of wavering. She simultaneously rode high with critical acclaim for her performance in Out of Sight and commercial success in crap like The Wedding Planner. While Lopez was able to convincingly pull off slightly meatier roles in darker films, the rom-com genre was where she could achieve the most box-office damage, and Maid in Manhattan (2002), which proved to be her highest-grossing movie, featured JLo in her typical working-class, girl-next-door sort of wisecracking character, who manages to both be harried and overworked yet inevitably finds romance for the happy ending crowd. Apparently, audiences loved to see JLo do that shit and had rewarded her handsomely for encore performances. In short, JLo had not only become a household name but a brand name with not only movies and record albums (seven of them at 40 million units sold) to pimp but also clothing and perfumery as well. Her personal fortunes rose in excess of $100 million. She was a seemingly untouchable diva who could put asses in theater seats while enjoying a larger-than-life persona, who not only indulged in outrageous red-carpet fashion but also fled from a Manhattan nightclub shootout in a red-light running spree that ended in arrest. The cumulative effect of these antics began to overshadow the movie star factor of Jennifer Lopez. While no immediate drop in ticket sales occurred, the public would soon grow weary of seeing the JLo visage at the supermarket checkout. Why pay $10 for a movie ticket when one can browse a tabloid for free? This fate was drawing close for JLo.
What eventually tarnished the JLo brand was a combination of several unpalatable factors, many of which were encapsulated within her overplayed and highly-public romantic relationship with Ben Affleck. It was impossible to ignore the bizarre omnipresence of the entire “Bennifer” monstrosity when confronted with Lopez’s diva self canoodling with Affleck in a music video while still insisting, “I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block.” Then, the obnoxously-nicknamed couple co-starred in the ill-conceived, ill-produced, and ill-portrayed Gigli (2003), winner of six Razzie awards, including “Worst Actress” for Lopez. In the fallout, Kevin Smith all but erased her from Jersey Girl, and her box-office reputation has never recovered. After stumbling about through a series of subsequent flops, JLo’s collaborated with husband Marc Anthony to co-star and produce El Cantante, a “salsa pioneer” biopic that turned out to be little more than a vanity project for both parties. Even more recently, JLo was dropped by her record label, Sony, and she has retreated for a short time from the spotlight.
This weekend, JLo returns to her former rom-com security blanket with The Back-Up Plan, a supposedly wacky tale about a singleton who visits a fertility clinic and, upon leaving, immediately meets the man of her dreams. The movie will be predictable, but the question remains whether the audiences still care about JLo enough to let her return for yet another big-screen turn.
Prognosis: JLo’s ascent towards and descent from Hollywood grace were both catalyzed, ironically, through ridiculous amounts of hype. At this point, the JLo fatigue is still quite present for audiences, so who knows whether the actress will actually get another shot at box-office mettle. If The Back-Up Plan fails, the best possible thing for JLo to do would be to combine her musical and acting experience with a turn on Broadway. Otherwise, girlfriend’s still got enough money to support that badonkadonk for all of infinity.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.