Aaron R. Davis
Greetings, intergalactic travelers; I hope this letter finds you well.
This letter makes a lot of assumptions: that you can read English, that it survived in its satellite and that you have any interest in the people who once called this rock home. But if you are going to the planet below, you’re going to find a lot of weird records of my civilization, and I want to set the record straight about something.
I have no idea why Jennifer Aniston was so important.
I feel like most people didn’t. She was on a TV show that was wildly overrated for a decade or so, and which gave a couple of generations absolutely stupid ideas about how friendships work. No, it doesn’t make you a bad person if you grow apart from your group of friends. No, not every stays friends with their exes. No, the person you had an unrequited crush on in high school is not the one person you’re destined to be with if you just hang in there long enough. The show’s problematic enough on its own, but its breakout star, Jennifer Aniston, is a whole different case.
Yes, she did go on and have a movie career. It got harder and harder to notice, and probably none of her movies have survived. Not because they’re terrible. They’re more … aggressively average. Intensely mediocre. Almost willfully impossible to notice. Do you have that kind of entertainment on your planet? Comedies that aren’t too rough for old people and kids, but which no serious adult ever feels the urge to watch? You know, stuff that just gets made and comes out because apparently people just need something to do? The motion picture equivalent of busywork?
Anyway, yeah, she was in movies, but not any good ones. And she never really tried to get back into television. When she guested on shows it was a big deal, but I’ll be honest with you, she never had the talent to back up all of that inexplicable fame. I have literally no idea why she was so goddamn famous.
Now, what you’re going to find as you comb through our disposable past is a lot of magazines claiming Jennifer Aniston is pregnant. It was a weird fixation of my civilization, along with watching rich people act like assholes on TV and cramming food into other kinds of food.
See, Jennifer Aniston was once married to Brad Pitt, who was an actual movie star. Then Brad Pitt cheated on her with another real movie star, Angelina Jolie, and dumped Jennifer. Somehow, this led to a weird cultism where women and apparently magazines were either on the side of poor victim Jennifer, who had her man stolen from her by catty Angelina, or on the side of sexy Angelina, who took what she wanted and didn’t let anyone get in her way. Too few people were willing to say that Brad Pitt was a douchebag who cheated on his wife; to many, he was a hapless puppet who could be stolen away from one woman by another, because men apparently play no active roles in the drama of their lives.
What do you want? My civilization was stupid. We were the only country with weekly mass shootings and then liked to throw up our hands and claim that nothing could be done to stop it, especially not what worked in every other nation.
So, the tabloids took Jennifer’s side and started updating us constantly on how they assumed she was feeling, what her relationship with her new boyfriend must be like, the dramatic ups and downs they completely invented for her, and, of course, how often she was pregnant.
How often was Jennifer Aniston pregnant? Well, to you it’s going to look like she was pregnant every week for eighteen straight years. But in reality, she was never pregnant. I know, that’s going to sound weird to you. You’re going to see story after story about how she’s happy now, or she’s finally ready for love, or she’s breaking up with her boyfriend, or she’s pregnant and going to raise the baby alone, or some fucking thing. But in reality, she just went on living her life, making a crappy movie every couple of years and hailed as a comedienne when she was never actually funny. (Seriously, if you watch her movies, just note the number of times that her “comedy” usually comes down to just acting aggressively sexual. It’s like the beginning of The 40 Year-Old Virgin: just watching someone who doesn’t seem to know what sex is talking about sex. It’s kind of funny, but for the wrong reasons.)
It’s going to look like we absolutely worshiped her and she was the center of our culture. I just need you to know that this is not true. What was it about Jennifer Aniston that was so goddamn interesting?
I wish I had an answer for you. We did a lot of stupid things. We used to own other people. We quibbled for centuries over whether every human being should have the same rights as every other human being, apparently under the impression that it somehow diminishes our own freedom when everyone else has the same right to it. We tore our planet apart looking for every last bit of oil in the name of short term profits, even though the sun and the wind and the water were right there the whole time. We feared change, suppressed ideas, let just 67 people hoard all of the money they could, and devoted a lot of time to a bizarre fascination with Jennifer Aniston.
Welcome to the planet. Her name was Earth. You can’t do any worse than we did.
Live long and prosper,
Aaron R. Davis
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org