Yesterday, the Daily Mail ran an interview with Emma Thompson in which Thompson addresses the widely publicized affair between Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter which ended her marriage to Branagh. Thompson, as always, was a classy gem, even pointing out similarities shared by herself and Bonham Carter, chiefly “being slightly mad and a bit fashion-challenged.” I cannot overstate how wonderful this woman is.
My issue is with the Daily Mail, and all other entertainment journalism pieces discussing a relationship-ending affair. Go read the interview and see if you can spot it. I’ll wait. It’s worth it, because of Thompson’s aforementioned gem-ness.
Did you find Waldo? I’ll tell you what you didn’t find: Kenneth Branagh.
Thompson notes that she and Bonham Carter made their peace years ago. There’s an 11-year-old quote from Bonham Carter stating, “Yes, I’m a habitual serial home breaker, apparently.” There’s discussion of Bonham Carter’s children, films both Bonham Carter and Thompson have appeared in, and photos of both women alone and with Branagh. But, other than that, there is very little Branagh.
Because, you see, the only one to blame is Helena Bonham Carter. The only one who would need forgiveness—be it Thompson’s or ours—is Helena Bonham Carter.
I don’t think I need to tell you that affairs are wrong, but who knows. I could get an influx of angry “how dare you cheat-shame!” comments. I’m sure people have all kinds of reasons and I’m sure many of them are totally understandable, but at the end of the day I think we can agree that many if not most affairs are bad things, with both parties sharing the badness. But, call me crazy here, when two people have an affair and one is married and one is the otherwise unattached “other woman” or “other man” shouldn’t the majority of the blame lie with the married person? Why is the “other woman”—in this case, Helena Bonham Carter—the villain, while the man who broke his wife’s heart, relegating her to “crying in a bedroom” as she states, gets off scot-free?
And this is the norm in terms of Hollywood gossip. Think about the Aniston-Jolie-Pitt triangle that still shows up on tabloid covers to this day. It’s still Aniston vs. Jolie. How often does Pitt actually get brought into things? How much has any of this affected his career and public image? The answer is zero, while Jolie is still Evil Slut and Aniston is still Sad Cat Lady.
It’s gross anyway. It always is. But, for some reason, it’s especially gross when used in this way. Thompson is all class, and it’s clear from her answers that this is a non-issue for her, at least in terms of what she wants to put out there publicly. She’s there to talk about herself and her movie. And every headline is “Thompson Forgives Bonham Carter.” Wronged wife forgives badly dressed harlot. There’s something missing. And it’s a big problem.