It happened during the Venice Festival, held in early September. In the projection of The last duel, directed by Ridley Scott, actor and director Ben Affleck got out of his car and posed for a few moments before the press. Then, with the gesture of a master of ceremonies, he opened the door of the same car, letting his partner Jennifer Lopez emerge from it, which caused the ecstasy of the public present. At the end of July they confirmed on Instagram that, 17 years after their first romance, the rumors that linked them again were true. But their appearance – in Jennifer’s case, with the almost religious sense of the word – on the red carpet in Venice marked their coming-out as a couple.
A few days later, Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle, Dukes of Sussex, starred on the cover of the magazine Time in the number that presents the list of most influential people in the world. The effect of both couples each time they make a move is similar: a barrage of comments, dazzled applause, or ravenous criticism. They embody the most powerful version of that which in English is called power couple or powerful couple, one of the most representative cultural phenomena of our days. Why are we fascinated by them?
Before answering the question, a word of caution: to form a power couple a romantic relationship between two people with fame and recognized backgrounds is not enough. There is an extra factor that causes that couple to arouse passions: some have it, and others, no matter how much interest each of its members arouse separately, no. Power does not consist only in the result of the sum of the attractiveness of individuals, but of their multiplication. For example, despite the fact that the previous couples of Jennifer López and Ben Affleck – Alex Rodríguez and Ana de Armas – were also famous, they did not form a couple with the weight comparable to what they have now. In large part because they are revalidating the power they already had when they first went out together, between 2002 and 2004. Then they already raised a media stir that is still the subject of analysis.
“The return of Jennifer López and Ben Affleck represents the return of hope,” explains the journalist who is an expert in social chronicle. Martin Bianchi. “After more than a year of pandemic, the lockdown ended thousands of marriages, not only in show business. We all know someone in existential and sentimental crisis, everyone can feel identified with those emotions, with the illusion of living a new beginning. This explains the fascination for this story, added to the fact that it occurs twenty years after their previous relationship. It is a parallel with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; They took 16 months to get back together and Jennifer and Ben have taken 20 years. Going back with an ex can be the biggest mistake, but going back with an ex twenty years later can be a success, because they are no longer the same people ”.
The ones who invented all this
In discussing Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Bianchi cites the canon of the super couple by excellence. Other iconic couples had already existed in Hollywood that multiplied their fame by getting together, such as the one formed by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, but the protagonists of Cleopatra (1963) made a difference and established the pattern that today’s famous couples follow: they each have to be famous on their own and even more famous when they are together. They must build on their careers and multiply their professional successes. Some couples even receive their own name that symbolizes that the couple is something more than two people united: it is, directly, an entity with a life of its own. “Liz and Dick” are the precedent of Bennifer (Ben and Jennifer), Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), Kimye (Kanye West and Kim Kardashian), Tomkat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) or Robsten (Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson). In the case of Enrique and Meghan Markle, the neologism they gave rise to is Megxit, which alludes to its particular Brexit of the British royal family, in a term not exempt from machismo by placing responsibility on it.
All these characteristics of the super couple are also fulfilled in Enrique and Meghan, to the point that Time choose them as the most influential people in the world, certifying their status as a couple that is extremely synchronized and dedicated to converging personal and work projects that they face against a common enemy (the British monarchy). Archie (their first child) and Archewell, the charity with which they will fight for the visibility of mental disorders, share a name. Harry and Meghan would be halfway between the power couple to use, the one formed by celebrities, and the couple with real political influence, such as Barack and Michelle Obama or Bill and Hillary Clinton, who sold the presidential race – his – with the slogan “two for the price of one.” Juan Domingo Perón and his wife Evita are an even clearer example in which her charisma helped boost his political career.
There are more: Beyoncé and Jay-Z, George and Amal Clooney, Ellen de Generes and Portia de Rossi, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend or the Spanish examples of Isabel Preysler and Mario Vargas Llosa or David Muñoz and Cristina Pedroche (who are joined by the added appeal of being two neighborhood boys who ended up on the pages of the Hi there!). However, the world of super couples it is not restricted to the reality of politicians or celebrities like those mentioned. The idea of being part of a solid couple has become an aspiration that mixes the sentimental with the work and personal fulfillment. This is obvious in social networks, where the fascination for the love of others is on the rise. The hagshtag #powercouple next to #relationshipgoals (goals in a relationship) is frequently repeated on Instagram posts.
From golden Hollywood to a touch screen
But to succeed in networks it is not enough just to make an exhibition of love. “It is not just a factor of luck”, clarifies Javier García-Gallo, CEO of the marketing agency Soy Olivia. “The content generated has to contribute something to an interested audience, it could be, for example, feeling identified with their own situations or consuming their content as a kind of sitcom that distracts you. In any case, the content has to have a value proposition, they don’t become famous just for being a couple ”. Thus, the profiles of couples that are most successful usually also offer snapshots about travel (such as the Do you travel account, which they have already broken up and now only he appears in the photos), music (the singers Camilo and Evaluna, who are promoted with the phrase “we are becoming one”), fashion (Jaimetoutcheztoi) and also activism (like the Devermut, lately involved in controversy).
When we talk about power in a couple it is difficult to find the balance, whether it is talking about old school celebrities or those born with the rise of social networks. And not only is it the case that one of the members has more pull than the other, but the couple itself, like a two-headed hydra, engulfs the personality of each of them separately. “At the time that was the case of David and Victoria Beckham: Victoria became more intriguing and began to be persecuted more for being with a famous soccer player than for her musical success with the Spice Girls,” explains Jesús Vázquez Viedma, creator of the JVV representation and events agency. “Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were very strong as a couple, but today Justin has much less strength at the image level, even with another famous personality such as Jessica Biel.” Javier García-Gallo agrees: “It is like John Nash’s theory, each one should do the best for himself and for the couple. If you only work on joint strategy, individuality and therefore creative power are lost ”.
And what happens when the couple breaks up? Can the members of a supercouple survive the end of it? “This is a phenomenon that seems even more attractive to me, when a power couple it dissolves and one of the members reveals himself as a unique personality ”, says Martín Bianchi. “It happened with Sonny and Cher or Ike and Tina Turner; they were couples that you thought existed only because of the mere interaction between both parties, it was impossible to dissociate them and when they separated, it turned out that they were the ones who got ahead. “
What happens to those couples whose influence develops in networks and can very easily quantify their success in number of followers? Javier García-Gallo answers: “They could survive if each one has taken care of their audiences separately. Obviously, there are couples in which one profile pulls more than the other, but if during the whole time each account has been developed individually, there may be continuity, although surely there must be a reinvention ”. And be careful, because, as Jesús Vázquez Viedma points out, “the break also sells. You just have to know how to take advantage of it and not be harmed ”.
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