Ben Affleck just can’t seem to escape the internet’s fascination. Pictures of the Oscar-winning actor looking “miserable” or exhausted keep exploding online, and the latest one, where he appears to be “sick of life,” went viral on X, formerly known as Twitter. But why do these kinds of Affleck pictures take off online? Let’s dive into it.
According to pop culture experts, the appeal of these images lies in their relatability. “The ‘sad Affleck’ memes have a couple of different registers that contribute to their shareability,” says Claire Sisco King, an associate professor of communication studies. People find pleasure in seeing privilege and power go through apparent hardships. But these memes also serve as a point of identification for those feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or despondent.
So, what makes Affleck the perfect meme material? Sulafa Zidani, an associate professor of media studies, believes it’s his ability to convey relatable emotions. “He looks overburdened and tired, like someone who has just had enough,” she explains. Affleck’s images appear authentic because we’re not used to celebrities expressing such feelings. Plus, his obsession with Dunkin’ Donuts adds a humorous element to the mix.
But why did a 2014 photo of Affleck go viral once again? Zidani points out that memes often get revived years later, and in this case, the pattern of previous Affleck memes contributed to its revival. People have become accustomed to dissecting every action and gesture of Affleck, whether he’s with Jennifer Lopez or Jennifer Garner. But it’s important to remember that these frozen moments captured by paparazzi can be taken out of context.
Despite knowing that paparazzi are always around, Affleck is only human. “It becomes nearly impossible to stay ‘on guard’ at all times,” says King. And the internet’s attention on Affleck goes beyond his good looks. His captured moments of distress and dejection resonate with people more than traditional notions of handsomeness. It’s relatable and allows individuals to express their own reactions to different situations.
Affleck’s personal life, including his high-profile relationships and openness about his alcohol addiction, also fuels the fascination. However, meme-making can sometimes cause unintended harm. There’s often no consent in the process, and it can add extra worries to an already overburdened individual.
Despite the memes, Affleck has embraced them to some extent. He has incorporated elements from his personal life into his star persona, starring in commercials for Dunkin’ Donuts. But it’s crucial to remember that these moments of sadness or frustration captured by the paparazzi may not be all they seem. They could simply be demonstrations of typical human emotions intensified by intense scrutiny and pressure.
In the end, the appeal of Ben Affleck memes lies in their relatability and the sense of authenticity they exude. People will continue to circulate them on the internet because they connect with the actor’s emotions. So, if Ben Affleck is reading this, maybe engaging with meme-makers could be a more wholesome experience than he expects.