J.Lo Hate Is Nothing New & It’s Time We Give Credit Where It Is Due

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If our short cultural memory is to be believed, this is the first major backlash Jennifer Lopez has experienced in her 25-plus year career.

In February, the multi-hyphenate star released a triptych of media that examined her relationship with fame, love and her creative output. First came the album, This is Me… Now, a play on her 2002 album This is Me… Then, and its accompanying movie, This is Me… Now: A Love Story, an ambitious steampunk romp through her reputation as an unlucky-in-love serial monogamist. The movie co-starred the likes of Jane Fonda and Keke Palmer as astrological signs in the zodiac calendar and musical collaborator Fat Joe as her therapist and dropped on Amazon Prime Video.

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A week later, also on Prime, Lopez premiered an accompanying documentary, The Greatest Love Story Never Told, about the making of the album and movie, which revealed that she footed the $20 million endeavor out of her own pocket because “no one is clamoring for the next J.Lo album,” she told the camera. “I want to do this.”

We all know how much a woman trying hard ires the general public—remember the hate against Anne Hathaway when she seemed a little too self-satisfied for winning an Oscar, Margot Robbie’s recent admission that she fears the world will be sick of her for being too public amid her Barbie success or the emerging backlash against Taylor Swift for her bloated, self-referential 31-track Tortured Poet’s Department?

Well, Lopez experienced that wrath on a whole other level with her album and movies, re-examining the mythology that’s surrounded her public persona for the better part of two decades in order to make sense of it now. The work is intrinsically tied to her renewed love story with Affleck, with whom she tied the knot in 2022 after their engagement was called off in 2004.

Cast your mind back to then: resentment was already brewing against Lopez since her success a few years earlier when she achieved the singular feat of having the number one movie, The Wedding Planner, and the number one album, J.Lo (thus coining her infamous moniker). Her success, coupled with media attention on her tumultuous personal life amid the end of her second short-lived marriage, to backup dancer Cris Judd, created plenty of content for people to criticize.

We’ve already established that we don’t like successful women, so to see Lopez then connect with her Jersey Girl and the cursed Gigli co-star, Ben Affleck, was too much for some people—especially when they flaunted their relationship in the “Jenny from the Block” video. What was deemed a vain display of public affection was actually, when read correctly, an clever music video poking fun at the media’s obsession with her, similar to what she was trying to tap into with This is Me… Now: A Love Story.

The subsequent dissolution of their engagement and the box office bombing of Gigli signaled a downturn for Lopez, and she mostly focussed her attention on being an early pioneer in the celebrity fragrance realm in a move that was beginning to resemble that of another famous oft-wed scent purveyor, Elizabeth Taylor.

She was still kicking for the rest of the 2000s, releasing middling rom-coms and delving into Spanish-language music with her third husband, Latin singer Marc Anthony.

But it was her 2011 turn as a judge on American Idol that breathed new life into her career once more. All while putting herself forward for yet more criticism, Lopez’s appearance on the show also helped pave the way for a new, viable career move for singers in their mid-careers, instead of one for those on their way out. The role would later be taken on by other successful women like, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry and Lopez’s long-time rival Mariah Carey.

Coupled with the dance banger “On the Floor” and the album Dance Again, Lopez was on the up and up where she mostly plateaued for the better part of the 2010s. Every now and then a story about her diva antics or how she didn’t sing her own songs (shoutout to Ashanti) but they never gained any real traction. We were busy hating Hathaway and spamming Swift’s social media with snake emojis.

Then came Hustlers, a 2019 true crime movie about strippers which cast Lopez as a tough-talking exotic dancer who drugged finance bros and stole their money. It was a role many had never seen—or expected to see—her in and there was a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding it. That ultimately didn’t come to fruition, a disappointment that is examined in Lopez’s 2022 Netflix documentary Half-Time, which follows her Super Bowl half-time show performance alongside fellow Latina, Shakira, at the 2020 sports event.

By our societal calculations, it would have been about time for a fall for Lopez, but in early 2020 we kind of had other things to worry about and Lopez was spared another backlash. During the pandemic, Lopez and Affleck rekindled their dormant relationship, now known as Bennifer 2.0, which brings us to the present moment: another wave of J.Lo hate.

She’ll survive: she always does. Compared to the vitriol and personal struggles some other female celebrities of her ilk have suffered, like Britney Spears, Lopez will recover. Hell, we just saw her shine on the red carpet of the Met Gala, which she co-chaired (an appointment made before the current downswing in public opinion of her). And she has another Netflix movie coming out later this month. Meantime, she’ll be holed up in her Bel-Air mansion rolling in piles of money—albeit $20 million smaller; you know, until the next time we decide we like her again in *checks notes* two to three years.

Before you go, click to see women over 50 who are defining success in the music industry.

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