Beautiful But Boring: Blake Lively + Ryan Reynolds

If two star images get married “in secret” in South Carolina and everyone yawns, did the marriage actually happen?

I’m being somewhat facetious, but the news of the marriage between demi-stars Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds broke late last night, and everyone yawned. Twitter is undoubtedly the best place to observe these initial reactions, and there were some doozies:




Now, if you are a lover of the Reynolds or Lively star image, you will likely protest: they did it in secret because they don’t want the publicity!  True and false.  They did not sell the photos of their wedding to People Magazine — something we associate with reality stars, but don’t forget well-respected, well-regarded stars like Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, and even Tom Cruise sell the rights to their weddings.  It’s smart PR.  (And who knows – these photos may emerge in the next week or so).  Many of those stars had “secret” (meaning: not publicized ahead of time) weddings.  This wedding was not publicized ahead of time, and there are currently no paparazzi shots, but I do not buy, for a second, that it’s truly a secret wedding.  If anything, they kept it secret so that they could then sell “exclusive” rights to the photos, another well-known gossip industry trick.  They’re also slowly leaking crazy info, like the fact that Lively’s “friend” Florence Welch (does this seem to crazy to anyone else?) performed a few songs, the couple had lunch with Bette Midler earlier that weekend, and the site of the wedding is from The Notebook.

But here’s the thing: Lively is an established fame-whore. She/Her Agent runs the fame game, and she has done a spectacularly good job of exploiting her major talent, namely, the ability to look stunning in short dresses.  There is no way she’s not going to exploit this marriage – in as tasteful a way as possible, of course – the same way she exploited her relationship with Penn Badgley and Leonardo DiCaprio before her.  When you’re short on one half of the stardom equation (actual acting talent), you compensate with an intriguing extra-textual life.  And Lively has been very, very good at doing so every since her name made its way to the public’s lips back during the halcyon days of Gossip Girls‘s first two seasons.

Again, doubters gonna doubt: and say that Lively did love Badgley, did love DiCaprio, does love Reynolds.  I don’t contest that.  You just have to understand that love — in any situation — can also be accompanied by career savvy.  Both Lively and Reynolds were on paths to legitimate film stardom that didn’t quite pan-out.  And when the performances don’t do the job, the best publicists know that you turn to the extra-textual life to keep interest until the performances can win it once again.

Which is why this reaction to her marriage to Reynolds may prove a problem.  The all-powerful minivan majority will eat up the details, in part because the minivan majority just loves monogamy and wedded monogamy in particular.  But when the tastemakers of celebrity gossip consumption consider the union boring, confuse Lively with Reynolds’ previous wife (ScarJo), and express general disinterest, the best laid star union may not equal the sum of its star parts.

On a purely pragmatic level, lots of stars date other stars because they’re the only ones who understand/can cope with the lifestyle.  Frankly, it’s the same thing with grad students, which is why I need to get some start-up capital to start my genius “G-Date” graduate-student dating site.  But stars also date other stars because it raises their star stock exponentially — meaning, star dating star does not equal star + star, but (star) * (star).   This wedding should be dynamite.  It should be so much more fascinating than Barrymore’s wedding to a non-star, or Witherspoon’s wedding to a beige-looking agent.

But we don’t care.  It’s not because Reynolds hasn’t been truly interesting since Van Wilder (seriously, that persona: go back to it) or because Lively can’t enunciate.  It’s because their relationship is beige.  It’s because there’s nothing scandalous, despite the fact that Reynolds is ten years her senior.  It’s because they, and their teams, have planned badly: sure, it’s a wedding, but they’ve done nothing in the build up to make it worth your gossip-minded energy.  It doesn’t stand for anything.  It doesn’t represent anything, other than two wealthy good-looking white people with middling talent getting married — which, if you’re really invested in such things, read the New York Times on Sunday for much more fascinating backstories.

People mistake Ryan Reynolds for other handsome, long-faced stars all the time.  People mistake Blake Lively for other long-haired television blondes.  People mistake their relationship for the relationships of other beautiful yet otherwise unnotable people.  Even if you think that it doesn’t matter whether they married for publicity or not, the fact remains: neither one of them is interesting enough to render the “secret” wedding interesting.  And that, readers, is the sign of a falling almost-star.

10 Responses to “Beautiful But Boring: Blake Lively + Ryan Reynolds”

  1. Belinda says:

    Excellent summation of the whole situation. My first reaction on hearing the news was to wonder why Ryan Reynolds is marrying Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriend, but to not care enough to actually look it up.

  2. Vinicius says:

    The wedding was done by the Martha Stewart Weddings’s team, and will be featured in a future cover story. For real.

    (oops, posted this comment on the wrong post first)

  3. Faye says:

    Thanks for that link Vinicius “custom leather suspenders designed by the groom’s friend, Christopher Bailey” totally made me laugh.

    Rather than blandness I have much rage at Fake Blake’s manoeuvrings. I have absolutely no interest in Ryan Reynolds, so its not a ‘she got my man’ thing, but its the fame-whore element you note Annie. It all feels an absolutely play (I know Lainey calls her a baller on this front) which has been achieved with such meticulous – and obvious – planning that it makes me feel slightly icky. There is no ‘there’ there, she’s only what she creates as an image, achieved through dating and legs. Though if the ‘she’s nesting, she’s not even reading scripts!’ narrative that’s being circulated is true, i’ll be very happy to have her away from those casting lists in which she’s placed alongside women massively above her ability. It does feel like this romance with Reynolds has come as her starlet power that got her on those lists is waning after a series of performances showing her limitations, as you note, she’s fading which makes it feel like another move in the play of her grand narrative.

    I quite like the idea that this is the latest in his string of beards and that there will come a Judy Garland/Vincent Minnelli traumatic rupture in their future, though she’s so strategic that she’d be on top of that too.

    I sound mean. But she is one of my ‘that bitch’ women that I have deep seated disgust at.

  4. Ali says:

    I have a soft spot for Ryan Reynolds, am I in the minority? Sure he’s never really done anything acting-wise to merit… uh, people paying a ton of attention to him. But unlike Blake Lively I think he has SOME substance. He has good- sometimes very good- comedic timing, and it isn’t totally painful to watch him act. He’s charming, super likable, and doesn’t seem like a total dum dum. And, I mean, obviously he’s so, so handsome. SO HANDSOME. In summation, I like him more than her.

    I recently watched The Change Up on HBO, and it was pretty awful, but I still like him. On a related note – I dislike Olivia Wilde MORE after watching that movie than I already did. A big part of it was just her character – the “cool” hot girl who’s a successful lawyer but likes to have sex AND go to baseball games?!? WOW! – barf. But it makes me feel bad because I think there is some double standard/female jealousy thing going on that kind of echoes the way a lot of women (myself included) feel about Lively.

    Also, to your point, I didn’t even know they had been dating before this story came out. On the rare occasions I would find myself thinking about Blake Lively at all, I think I just assumed that she was doing her thing, going to fashion-y parties and dating dudes more famous than her.

    • Lexa says:

      Your comment reminded me of the new book “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. She has a chapter devoted to “The Cool Girl” that is brilliant. Actually, the whole book is, too.

  5. Loved your writeup. Wasn’t Blake long rumored to be Veronica Bee Stings from E’s Blind Vices?

  6. howforwardsale says:

    I first heard this news from my only friend who considers RR one of her celebrity crushes and immediately went “meh” in my head. I didn’t give it and 2nd thought until I read this piece. I will however look forward to their spread in Martha Stewart’s Weddings b/c they make a great mannequin wedding couple.

  7. jing says:

    let’s make gdate happen!

  8. Stefani says:

    Blake Lively & Florence Welch actually are friends. Welch actually interviewed Lively in for Glamour last year.

  9. Iris says:

    Why do people get married? Maybe they love each other. You and people like Busybody Phillips don’t know them. The only thing your essay established is that you read a lot of gossip sites and you have a lot of time on your hands.