You’re All Missing the Point of the Jeff Bezos/Lauren Sánchez Photo

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Earlier this week, Jeff Bezos and his new fiancée, Lauren Sánchez—a former newscaster who is now the primary stakeholder in one of the largest fortunes in the world—made their formal debut as a couple in the glossy pages of Vogue. It’s typical softball stuff: Bezos gets a glowing accounting of his lavish proclivities and hobbies, all centered around his gigantic ranch in Texas which he uses as both the launching pad for his vainglorious space-travel enterprise and, ostensibly, a domestic tax haven. Absent is any rigorous examination of his wealth, or the various labor bases that have been torn apart in Amazon’s gears (the word “unionization” doesn’t appear anywhere in the copy). But, whatever—that’s to be expected in a piece like this. What was less expected, however, was the deeply uncanny glamour shot of Jeff and Lauren.

Man, what? What is going on here?

I’ll do my best to break it down. We have a ridiculously swole Jeff Bezos—biceps pulsating with John Cena-esque fullness—sitting in a truck at an oblique angle, legs apart, so the camera catches a full frame of his Wrangler-covered crotch. Behind him is Sánchez, splashing out of the passenger’s seat like a mermaid, arms wrapped around the billionaire’s neck, with a ridiculous diamond ring—probably of equal monetary value to the combined acreage of West Texas—soaking up all the light in the known universe. The composition appears to be angling for an elegiac, High Renaissance aesthetic, but the combination of intensely lacquered Photoshop and questionably achieved rich-guy gym gains brings to mind the off-kilter saturation of a Midjourney prompt. At last, the singularity is upon us.

Part of the problem here is that Bezos, who is and always will be a dork who became rich by selling books, looks counterfeit and A.I.-ish whenever he attempts to simulate Yellowstone-style pastoral barony. (See also: Elon Musk wearing a cowboy hat at the border.) The other issue, at least if you’ve been following the saga of Bezos’ split from his first wife, Mackenzie, and subsequent romance with Ms. Sánchez, is that the shoot is unbelievably horny. It’s just dripping with rejuvenated, post-divorce virility, which is right in line with their tryst. Perhaps you recall the outrageously infatuated texts that Bezos sent Sánchez when news of their relationship leaked to the tabloids in 2019. Bezos referred to her as “Alive Girl” in those swollen missives, which is something you only say if you are down bad to the point of depravity. You know what else is a symptom of that condition? Allowing Vogue to photograph you in Hank Williams cosplay to consecrate your midlife engagement.

Here’s the thing, though. The more I look at this photo, the more it makes me like Bezos. In fact, I’m almost finding him relatable. God help me. God help us all.

Please—let me explain. I find almost everything about Jeff Bezos repellent. You already know why: He’s a man who has engineered an unsustainable supply chain—at a dramatic human cost—so you and I can receive our pallets of cat food and hand soap slightly faster than we would otherwise. He has bankrolled a mammoth anti-union effort to snuff out any nascent flickers of labor organization in his company, and he’s the sort of über-wealthy ghoul who seems to believe that the only way to save ourselves from this dying planet is to fund ridiculous sci-fi stunts—like building permanent settlements on the moon’s ice caps—rather than further divesting himself from his $166 billion net worth. Maybe scrap the $5.5 billion trips to low orbit and get your employees a better dental plan?

All of these factors combined make Jeff Bezos alienated from the general human experience, if only because you and I will never be capable of authoring the same degree of cruelty as he is. In fact, the only arena in which Bezos and I have any common ground is that we’ve both had chaotic, life-altering crushes in our lives, and can be moved to take cringey relationship photos to celebrate them. I can understand that! A lot of people can! Remember the spree of Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox photo shoots that briefly became the whole world’s problem? Remember Ben Affleck staring longingly at Jennifer Lopez’s bikini-clad rear end after spending years in the wilderness? I’ve been there, man. I, too, have been thoroughly destroyed by the gravity of lust and longing, to the point that a term like “Alive Girl” makes vernacular sense. I too have gallivanted around the city snapping dizzy engagement shots with a woman I’m thrilled to marry. In fact, I did that last weekend.

It’s almost a relief to know that someone as rich as Jeff Bezos is still bound by the frailties of the human condition. This is a man who can purchase anything he wants—yachts, spaceships, a futuristic workout regimen, whatever. And yet, he remains capable of being reduced to ash by the right paramour. He experiences unhappiness and joy in the same way the rest of us do. He is capable of letting the spirit take over when someone who he desperately wants to have sex with agrees to have sex with him. I think we’d all like to experience a version of life where money was not an object, but at the very least, Bezos and I are familiar with an identical strain of romantic anxiety.

Granted, my engagement photos did not include an obnoxious Texan pastiche, nor did they have the texture of softcore pornography. But when I look into the eyes of Jeff and Lauren and see that distinct flash of devil-may-care indulgence—the intoxicating “it’s my turn now and I don’t care who’s watching” energy that powers the best love affairs—I know that Bezos and I are fluent with each other. So don’t let the haters get you down, Jeff. In this respect—and in this respect alone—I’m right there with you.