There’s a pivotal scene in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby when the eponymous Gatsby, excited over the prospect of reigniting his affair with Daisy Buchanan, exclaims to a doubtful Nick Carraway: “Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can!”
In 2021, Ben Affleck is Jay Gatsby and Jennifer Lopez is Daisy Buchanan. Affleck and Lopez—also known as Bennifer—lit up tabloids in the early 2000s, fondling each other on expensive yachts and making bad movies together until their breakup in 2004. And while it took Gatsby and Daisy just five years to reconnect, the long-awaited Bennifer reunion has been 17 years in the making, spanning children, divorces, albums, Oscars, Batmans, and an entire cicada cycle. But for a society thirsty for nostalgia, the wait has been more than worth it.
The rumblings of a reconciliation began in late April, when it was rumored that J.Lo was interested in rekindling the relationship after ending a long engagement with Alex Rodriguez. Around the same time, Affleck was said to have split from Ana de Armas after a pandemic-long press tour of walking dogs and flaunting Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffees. Both finally single at the same time, it was reported that Ben had taken to email to woo Jennifer, and from there, it was on. In May, he was pictured driving her around Montana, where he allegedly owns a home. By June, photos surfaced of the two making out at a dinner in front of J.Lo’s sister and kids. And in a hectic first half of July, they took their kids to Universal Studios in L.A. before jetting off to the Hamptons for the Fourth. Less than two weeks later they were seen scoping out mansions together. Currently, they’re bopping around Europe celebrating J.Lo’s birthday.
What you need to know about Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck is that, perhaps more than any other two celebrities, they are willing to engage in a dialogue with the viewing public. Affleck’s paparazzi photos are not random moments of spontaneity—they are performances. As for Lopez, her own performative productions range from the simple (her recent choice to wear a necklace that spelled out Ben’s name) to the more elaborate, like her use of a stripper pole during her Super Bowl performance that seemed to bolster her dedication to her lead role in Hustlers. Both understand that being a true celebrity is a 24-hour job, and neither ever clocks out. So while the reunion has been a story about rekindled romance, it’s also been about putting on a show. (I believe in love, but I also believe in the power of PR.) J.Lo and Affleck started small, getting “caught” in various forms of embrace, but recently they’ve graduated to pure performance art. In late May, Ben was seen sporting a watch that Lopez had given him during the filming of the iconic music video for “Jenny From the Block.”
Then this past weekend, photos emerged of Ben and Jennifer on a yacht, him lightly touching her backside, her blissfully looking ahead. It was yet another, even more blatant callback to “Jenny From the Block,” recalling the unforgettable scene in the video that ends with Affleck undoing the strings of J.Lo’s bikini. Writer Caissie St. Onge recently took to Instagram and the Ringer Dish podcast to theorize that Bennifer is doing a shot-for-shot remake of the “Jenny From the Block” video for its 20th anniversary—and her evidence is rather compelling. Either they’re literally remaking the video, or they just know exactly what we want, which is to relive our adolescence. Personally, I’m fine with both versions.
As for what’s next, the options are endless. They seem to have fulfilled their “Jenny From the Block” duties (unless J.Lo decides to start wearing bad hats again), but that now leaves the door open for more nostalgic moments to call back to. Below is a list of things Bennifer might re-create next—ya know, in case they’re looking for suggestions.
- Remake Gigli: Before you laugh out loud at this suggestion, what if I told you this reimagining would have a script overhaul from Seth Rogen? I’m imagining a meta comedy with callbacks to the first film and how horrible it was. Gobble, gobble, I smell an Oscar!
- Visit a Dunkin’ and order way too much coffee.
- Visit a Starbucks and fill up an overly elaborate thermos: Love is all about compromise, but I don’t see either Jennifer or Ben straying from their respective brands. I guess they’re just gonna have to consume twice the amount of coffee.
- Stand at the edge of a beach and stare into the ocean while contemplating the meaning of life: This would require J.Lo to get a matching back tattoo, but I think we’d all appreciate the dedication.
- Re-record “Dear Ben.”
- Do some brief full-frontal nudity in a David Fincher movie.
- Go to a Red Sox game against the Yankees: By all means necessary please continue to rub this relationship in Alex Rodriguez’s face!
- Shoot a Vanity Fair cover together.
- Be photographed looking mentally checked out while smoking a cigarette.
- Participate in another Dateline NBC special and talk about normal people stuff, like cooking.
- Make a cameo appearance in a Kevin Smith movie.
- Ride the 6 train.
- Take a romantic carriage ride through New York City.
- Sport matching tracksuits while walking around L.A.: Juicy Couture for her, Puma for him.
- Go shopping for another jewel-encrusted toilet seat.
- Release Glow by J.Lo but for men, and have Ben star in the ad.
- Get engaged for a second time.
- Go to space: OK, sure, this wouldn’t be a recreation of the early aughts. But after making out at Nobu Malibu and getting handsy on a yacht in the south of France, space is truly the final frontier for Bennifer 2.0. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before they call up Jeff Bezos and we see a bunch of photos of them canoodling inside the International Space Station.