Yes, the rumors are true. Chris Evans has a girlfriend. In the same week that the 2nd best Chris was crowned People’s Sexiest Man Alive, he went public with his new boo, the actress Alba Baptista. You may recognize her from the Netflix series Warrior Nun. Mere hours after a ‘source’ told People the news, Page Six snapped the pair holding hands in public. Apparently, Evans and Baptista have been together for a year ‘and it’s serious […] They are in love and Chris has never been happier. His family and friends all adore her.’ He’d previously been seen commenting on her Instagram page, which is the modern version of releasing a statement via your publicist. The internet is reacting with its usual decorum and respect, which means a lot of misogyny towards Baptista and some phrenology levels of quackery over her brain functions to criticize their 16-year age gap. All in all, it’s been a pretty neat, scandal-free relationship rollout. So, of course, I’m fascinated by the timing of it all.
Evans is currently on the cover of People, being celebrated for his sex appeal. As I mentioned in my write-up of the news, the magazine tends to play it extremely safe with its choices. They don’t go for messy bad boys or press-shy introverts (or, really, anyone who isn’t cishet and white). They also tend to choose men who are either married or in long-term relationships, from Dwayne Johnson to Matt Damon to, ew, Blake Shelton. Even their choices of perennial bachelors, like George Clooney, aren’t seen as ‘dangerous’ to the average reader of People. They’re ‘gentlemen.’ Evans had not yet revealed his non-single status to the magazine when the cover went live. Or, to be more accurate, I don’t think he had given them the go-ahead to make the news public. Yet the cover story focuses heavily on Evans being ready to be a husband and father, a former singleton who’s eager to settle down in the traditional fashion. So, as expected from a dutiful tabloid that seldom rocks the boat of celebrity, People held back. But they still got the ‘exclusive’ out about Baptista via a ‘source’ a few days later.
And what better way to clear up any ambiguity over your romantic status than a classic paparazzi walk? The images are clear, the photographer is clearly not standing too far away, and even with their masks on, the pair are recognizably Evans and Baptista. It’s not quite BenAna levels of paparazzi dramatics, but it gets the job done.
📸 | Chris Evans and Alba Baptista out recently pic.twitter.com/ATgzUgP2R1— best of chris evans (@evanscontent) November 11, 2022
So, we have our new narrative: the leading man who spent months telling us all he wanted to settle down was already cozying up to his new love, and now he’s ready to let the world see, albeit from a distance. He didn’t spill the beans in his People cover story but they gave him space to announce it via those canny sources. He let the world see them together. Now, maybe we’ll see a few Instagram comments and such, or a red-carpet appearance, but I don’t imagine Evans or Baptista going full Bennifer on this. Really, few major celebrity couples can or want to pull off that level of performance nowadays. It’s clever work, savvy stuff from an A-Lister who has talked openly about not loving the spotlight and the anxiety his position in the public eye has brought him.
Before you all scramble to the comments section to tell me you so do not care about this or think it’s stupid, let me finish. Obviously, this is not red light breaking news stuff, especially in a week like this. But I do think it’s worth bringing a keen gaze toward how the entertainment world allows the rest of us to consume such narratives. For all of our grumbling over the increasing irrelevance of mainstream media, it still has its place. There’s a neatness to a classic PR rollout for a new romance or breakup or cycle of project promotion. Social media can be great for cutting out the middleman, but the lack of barriers between person and fan can be highly volatile, to say the least. I can’t judge any celebrity for wanting to spend less time on Twitter, even before the Musk-pocalypse.
And then there’s the other big reason why anyone would want to go through these motions: misogyny. We’ve seen before how the internet cruelly reacted towards women Evans dated, including Jenny Slate. Any time a male celebrity who is positioned in some manner as a sex object is seen to be dating a member of the opposite sex, you can bet that social media, blogs, comments sections, etc, will explode with toxicity, smears, and conspiratorial rambling. Look at what Olivia Wilde faces for dating Harry Styles, or how FKA Twigs was treated while in a relationship with Robert Pattinson. Hell, my grandmother still dislikes Yoko Ono for marrying John Lennon. It’s a decades-old tradition and one not in danger of dying out any time soon, alas. Comments on Baptista’s Instagram page seem OK so far but I wouldn’t be surprised if she locks them soon, because who the hell has the energy or mental capacity to deal with the inevitable barrage of fury from fans who are stunned that a megastar millionaire didn’t want to date them?
Sometimes, keeping yourself as far away from the ‘real world’ as possible is the best option, so why not use the privileges that celebrity affords you to do so? I’d take that over having to spend hours blocking randos calling me a thieving slut any day. So, good luck to the happy pair. Just ignore the rest of us!