If there's been a bright side for Sandra Bullock during this bizarrely long spell of public interest in her dickwad husband, it's that her own reputation has mostly been spared. But can it survive the Nazi picture?
And more to the point, should it?
Don't get me wrong: I am in no way suggesting that a wife is responsible for her husband's behavior. I'm not even saying Bullock must have known; just as it's possible for women not to realize their husbands are cheating or married to other people or, say, responsible for multiple murders, it's surely possible to miss the signs that your partner is, if not an active neo-Nazi, the kind of twisted asswipe who finds humor in taking photos that suggest he is. But at some point, don't you have to wonder?
Of course, Bullock's not answering questions at the moment, so all anyone can do is speculate. And many wise people will tell you that speculating about someone's personal relationships and proclivities when you have no solid information is a profoundly bad idea. It's just, those wise people don't usually work for tabloids and gossip blogs. So I'm a little baffled as to why, as more and more indicators that Jesse James is a beyond-the-pale douche surface every day, the narrative of Sandra as his hapless, naïve victim remains largely unchanged.
Part of it, I suppose, is that all of the information we have comes from questionable sources. Is it true that, in addition to posing for the instantly infamous photo, James kept Nazi memorabilia in his home office — where one presumes his wife might have noticed it? Is it true that he used his pet pit bulls for fighting – and Bullock knew about it? Are they really getting divorced now, or is she still considering staying with him? When most of the reports are coming from the likes of The National Enquirer, Perez Hilton, Radar and TMZ, who knows for sure? One doesn't want to jump to conclusions.
But you know what else one doesn't want, at least if one is a halfway decent person? A neo-Nazi husband. I'm all for giving celebrities their privacy amid salacious gossip and personal turmoil, but since Bullock surely knows all about that photo and the other accusations now, I can't figure out why we haven't heard from her yet. This is not the kind of thing you let slide, even if all you want to do, quite understandably, is hide out and lick your wounds. Perhaps she's just taking her time crafting a blistering statement denouncing James' apparent anti-Semitism, avowing her unfortunate but total ignorance of it and announcing the imminent divorce. But if that's not out by tomorrow? Something's seriously fucked up here. Remaining silent at this point is such an inexplicable career move — questions of human decency aside — I can't quite believe we haven't seen such a statement already. And I really can't believe there aren't more people making noise about it yet.
But then, I was reluctant to make any noise myself. I dragged my feet on accepting the opportunity to spout off on this subject for several reasons — yes, partly because so much information is coming from unreliable sources, because I quite frankly don't care about the state of most celebrity marriages, and because I have absolutely no idea what she knew and when she knew it, and no way of finding out. But also because I just don't want to believe she could have been aware that her spouse was into fucking Hitler memorabilia, for the simple reason that I like Sandra Bullock. I like that she's always seemed like the kind of chick you could hang out at a dive bar with, no matter how famous or rich or glammy she got. I like that in the last couple of years, she's single-handedly forced Hollywood to rethink what female leads in general, and women over 40 in particular, are capable of doing at the box office. I liked her gracious and funny Oscar speech, even if I was rooting for Gabby. And god help me, I even kind of liked "Miss Congeniality." Kind of. In a "can't quite turn it off when I run across it flipping channels" way. Shut up.
So I wonder if similar feelings are driving the trend toward demonizing James – quite deservedly, it seems – while letting Bullock off the hook for marrying what appears to be a world class asshole. I mean, world class. Jezzies, being the brilliant, skeptical and deliciously unmerciful bunch you are, have already been discussing the possibility that Bullock knew exactly who she married and somehow didn't think the Nazi thing was a dealbreaker. But so far, most folks are curiously silent on that topic. The dominant narrative over the last few weeks – save a bit of crapola about how powerful women drive their emasculated men to cheat – has been that Bullock is a victim who will and should come through this unfortunate episode with her dignity, career and tremendous likeability intact. Because unlike James, she did nothing wrong.
And you know, I like that narrative almost as much as I like Sandra Bullock, in theory; I like that for once, most people seem more inclined to call a douche a douche than speculate about what (beyond stupidity and hubris) would cause a man to step out on his beautiful, talented wife. And because I really like the idea of doing tequila shots and singing along to classic rock with Sandy B. at a dive bar somewhere — even though I will almost certainly never meet her, she couldn't really hang anonymously like that, and I can't stomach tequila — I'd really prefer not to consider another obvious angle on Jesse James' overwhelming jackholery in the context of his marriage: the whole "birds of a feather" thing. So I can certainly understand why people are reluctant to say, "Hey, is it just me, or have we reached the point where it's reasonable to wonder if Sandra Bullock kinda digs the Nazi scene herself?"
But, you know… is it just me, or have we reached that point?
I'm not saying we should be accusing Bullock, or assuming anything just yet. But I'm pretty sure it's fair to ask questions like, "Seriously, dude, what the HELL?" right about now. And it's fair, no matter how much we feel for her and respect her right to be alone, to expect an answer. I still hope the answer is that she is, in fact, the likeable, deeply unfortunate victim of a world class asshole who lived a very well-hidden double life. But all I know for sure is that I don't know the woman at all. And if I were her, I would not be waiting for this one to blow over.
Related: Why Do The Powerful Lead Double Lives? [CBS News]
"Bishop" Marries 8 Women, Goes To Jail For Bigamy [Lovefraud]
Serial Killers Can Easily Live Double Lives: Experts [Global BC]
Jesse James Exposed [National Enquirer]
Jesse James Is Cruel To Animals [Perez Hilton]
EXCLUSIVE: It's Over! Sandra Bullock Decides To Divorce [Radar]
Dispelling Sandra Bullock's "Oscar Curse" [Salon]