The editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour, had some sage advice this week for anyone who has been sacked. It’s good for you. “I think everyone should be fired,” Wintour told late-night talk show host James Corden. “It’s character-building.”
Spoken like a true, rich, old, white lady. Wintour, who has just turned 68, came of career age in the 1980s, a booming time for magazine publishing, and for rich people in general. And Wintour has always been rich – her father, Charles Wintour, was editor of London newspaper The Evening Standard from 1959 until 1976, providing enough connections and resources to all but guarantee a straight path to success for his daughter.
In fact, the only thing that would’ve stung about Wintour’s dismissal was the rejection. Granted, this can be character-building, but only if it’s your ego – and not your finances – that takes the hit. She would’ve always known that another (extraordinarily well-paid) job was around the corner.
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These days, especially in the US, where 25 per cent of workers make less than $10 an hour, nothing is certain. Perhaps this explains – at least in part – why emotional boundaries have become so elastic. What is the adage? “Eat and drink, for tomorrow Trump will still be president?”
Take the on-again-off-again relationship of Selena Gomez, 25, and Justin Bieber, 23, which began in 2011. They are the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton of our time; the public drama alone attests to this. But throw in her glamorous elan and his bad boy reputation, and you have strikingly similar parallels.
Gomez, like Taylor, was a child star, and Gomez, like Taylor, has been in and out of hospital and rehab for serious illness and exhaustion. Meanwhile, Bieber, with his preening, alcohol-soaked machismo, bears a psychological resemblance to Burton.
When Gomez and Bieber broke up in 2015 and she began dating singer Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, in January, many assumed it was for good. But that’s typical of us oldies; not understanding the swirling, toxic lure of millennial love. In Anna Wintour’s day, you married once, had an affair, divorced, and settled down again. In fact, that’s exactly what Wintour did, by carrying on an affair with Texan mobile phone millionaire Shelby Bryan while still married to psychiatrist David Schaffer.
Wintour and Schaffer divorced in 1999, and she remains with Bryan to this day. Taylor and Burton were notable because they were the exception. Who would be so deliberately foolish as to marry the same person twice?
But, in 2017, when people marry late; and we can predict who is dating and whom via Instagram, romantic love has become not so much a linear love story or even a rollercoaster as a carousel: the ups and downs are maddeningly frequent but all you’re doing is going around in circles.
Gomez admitted as much, explaining that the lyrics to her 2016 song Same Old Love, was “a song about a cycle … it drives you mad, but it’s beautiful”. Less beautiful, perhaps, is the song Love Yourself that Bieber released the same year, in which he whisper-crooned, “My momma don’t like you, and she likes everyone”.
Perhaps Bieber’s mother will have to reassess her judgment. Bieber visited Gomez at her home two weeks ago, ostensibly to check in on Gomez’s health after her widely publicised kidney transplant. The more cynical among us saw Bieber’s move for what it was. Last weekend they had breakfast together, and attended church. Bieber’s repentance is literal; if not a little on the nose.
The couple assured the media and fans alike that they were friends. But take it from this Xennial, who spent considerable time on the carousel: that there is no such thing as being friends with your ex. No exceptions, full stop. OK, one exception: if you share custody and no, custody of pets does not count.
Think of it as you would a job you were fired from. Would you swan into the office one day, just to see how everyone was doing? You wouldn’t humiliate yourself. But what if you were the one who moved on? Well then, you moved on for a reason. If you turn up to work while you’re working somewhere else it can mean only one thing: you want that job back.
Gomez’s then-boyfriend Tesfaye must have seen the writing on the wall, and on Monday the news broke: they were done.
Again, assurances were given of Gomez and Bieber “just being friends”. That lasted a full 24 hours before Bieber made his already transparent intentions abundantly clear, announcing, via an insider, (ahem, his publicist) that he is “happy Selena is single. He hopes to regain her trust so they can get back together”.
And so, let us, both old and young alike, prepare ourselves for another go around the Gomez-Bieber carousel. And if this time it fails, we can be assured of one thing: it will have been character-building.
– Sydney Morning Herald