We’re not suggesting that the fact you pulled up stakes, yanked your son Maddox out of the Lycée Français, and gave up your 6,000-square-foot, $100,000-a-month, six-bedroom apartment at the Waldorf Towers after just six weeks is a reason to love New York. Of course not. Frankly, we love New York whether you live here or not. (It’s a big city, and very lovable.) And we are happy to host you anytime. We are, however, also happy that, after Brad Pitt finished filming the Coen brothers’ Burn After Reading, you decided to pack up and decamp back to California.
Look, it’s not you—it’s us. This is our problem. We New Yorkers pride ourselves on not caring about the celebrities in our midst. We’re above it, or so we like to think. Even when we spot famous people, or chronicle their canoodlings, or breathlessly post their whereabouts online complete with interactive maps, we do it with a sense of bluff irony. As in, Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we actually cared about all this? Granted, “bluff irony” and “creepy stalking” are sometimes difficult to differentiate. But look at our hometown heroes—the Steve Buscemis, the Julianne Moores, the Spike Lees. We see them all the time doing just-folk stuff, like walking their dogs or browsing books in the Village or sitting 40 rows ahead of us at a Knicks game. And we always pretend not to notice. That’s the way things work around here. In other words, our favorite celebrities are the ones who sneak up on us. And you, Brangelina, are not about to sneak up on anyone.
Sure, it’s not your fault that you’re the most powerful paparazzi magnets in the world, so that your every facial twitch is brightly lit by flashbulbs, then telecast around the world. And, we admit, the one time we did see Pitt in New York, sitting in the bar at the Mandarin, our first thought was, Who’s that handsome guy who kind of looks like Brad Pitt? and then you started making those crazy Twelve Monkeys hand gestures and we realized, Holy shit, that is Brad Pitt.
And that’s the problem. When you’re here, we, as a citizenry, can’t be jaded. We can’t pretend not to care. Your whole sunglass-wearing, child-toting, camera-attracting, U.N.-addressing, SUV-caravan-parading Circus Brangelina is just too damned distracting to ignore. (Consider the fact that the Lycée Français had to send out a chiding letter telling parents to refrain from “taking pictures, asking for autographs, talking to the media and even shouting at Ms. Jolie and Mr. Pitt for recognition.”) What’s worse, Brangelina, is that when you’re here, you take our basest celebrity obsessions and force our noses in them, like we’re some disobedient dog who’s just left something on the carpet we’d rather not confront. We know full well that everyone would be better off if we confined that sort of distasteful activity to the backyard or, in this case, L.A. Which is where, at last report, you were headed, Brangelina, for which we say, “Thank you, and we hope to see you again soon.” But not too soon.