24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

« Previous | 24 Frames Home | Next »

Sandra Bullock-Jesse James question: Do Oscars cause divorces?

March 19, 2010 |  7:27 pm

No disrespect to our former colleague Nicole LaPorte, typically a sharp thinker and strong writer, but her story in The Daily Beast this week suggesting a causal relationship between winning an Oscar and marriages falling apart seemed like a textbook case of false deductions and selective reasoning.

It's not just her, of course. The idea of an Oscar curse has been making its way around Hollywood, with a certain veneer of credibility, over the last few days.

With allegations percolating that Jesse James carried on a nearly year-long affair while wife Sandra Bullock was away shooting "The Blind Side," it's fashionable to ask if Oscar attention can cause the marriage blues.  The hypothesis: the Oscars, like some kind of entertainment-world Sports Illustrated cover, come with a jinx. Once you win a statuette, the odds of your marriage failing increase significantly.

As Laporte writes: "It's not a total shocker that just days after Sandra Bullock won her first Academy Award, and professed to Barbara Walters how much she loved her husband, biker bad boy Jesse James, reports surfaced that James has, rather, been going behind Bullock's back with a tattoo model."

She continues: "James wouldn't be the first plus one to act up when the limelight shines a little too brightly on his spouse — particularly when that success involves a little golden man." She cites several former couples, and Oscar winners, as evidence, including Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, and Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe.

Certainly it's fair to assess Bullock's marriage in the context of awards season. James was a key part of the actress' Oscars media tour, right down to the backstage appearance at the Kodak two weeks ago, where James appeared to the side of the stage as she fielded media questions (and referred to him several times).   But to suggest that success on the circuit undermines marital unions is to wander into the land of murky timing.  Many of the marriages that the Oscar-curse camp cites went south years after the Oscar win. Or, in Bullock's case, months before.

According to the time-line laid out in In Touch, which broke the story, James' affair began when Bullock was away — not campaigning, but shooting a movie (and a movie that wasn't even deemed an Oscar film, just one more shoot in a marriage and career filled with them).

Those who make the argument paint a reductive picture in which men simply can't handle their wives' success — even if it's the very success they've enjoyed themselves. "The latest Oscar curse casualties, it was announced this week, are Kate Winslet and director Sam Mendes, who have separated a year after she received her first Academy Award for The Reader, and he went home empty-handed for Revolutionary Road," says the Daily Beast item.

That's true. But what it doesn't say is that Mendes actually had already won an Oscar (for "American Beauty" in 2000), two years after Winslet herself left empty-handed after being nominated for "Titantic. So we're to assume that, even though he already had an Oscar on the mantle, Mendes was so jealous that his wife had won one too he spent the last year throwing his marriage on the skids? Instead of, say, assuming that their marriage was plagued by one of the thousands of problems that can tear a relationship apart?

Disproportionate success can put a strain on a relationship (or at least expose fault lines that were already there). But it's hardly specific to the Oscars, or to women; men's burgeoning Hollywood careers have thrown a marriage or two into disarray themselves. The most you can probably say is that the award circuit may be correlated to the discovery of infidelity, since outlets have newfound incentive to dig up dirt.

Break-ups are common in Hollywood, just as they're common everywhere else. In the same awards-season period last year, celebrity women such as Rihanna, Hayden Panettiere, Emma Watson and, er, Jesse McCartney all split up with their significant others. None of these people were withing smelling distance of an Oscar. Yet their relationships fell apart just the same.

We've obviously never won an Academy Award, so we have no idea what kind of power it has. Maybe it's a relationship aphrodisiac. Maybe it's relationship ammunition. But the idea that the prize can become a wedge in a marriage — and that it's especially divisive if a woman wins one — seems to simultaneously understate the complexities of marriage and overstate the effects of the Oscar.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Sandra Bullock and Jesse James at the Oscars. Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

Comments () | Archives (23)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Please cease this ridiculous "Oscar curse" drama. Lots of actors & actresses win Oscars & don't divorce. Lots do divorce who've never won anything. Grow up. Move on.

And btw - WHAT is the Daily Beast? Never heard of it!

Well said!

These celebrities can have what ever they want when they want it- takes a very strong character to resist all the temptation and fantasy. Not to mention, what kind of personality is even attracted to an industry based on superficiality in general.

The Oscars had nothing to do with this. Sandra got award for excellent work done in The Blind Side

This is the curse that women fall under when they marry beneath themselves. In and out of Hollywood. Embrace your power ladies and find worthy partners.

This man apparently cheated on her LAST YEAR. How on earth is there a connection. If she had not won an Oscar, he still would have been guilty of cheating. If he had started cheating after she won, then maybe you could say all this nonesense. Why does there have to be some kind of excuse for bad marriages in Hollywood.

The relationship ended because men are pigs, and Jesse James is no exception. What a fool.

Please give this woman time, space and privacy. It is so devastating and she needs to be left alone to heal, mend and do whatever is necessary for her sanity, comfort and future happiness. It is like going through a death when you are cheated on by someone you love and trust more than anything in the world. My heart goes out to Miss Bullock and I wish her peace, respect and privacy. Please leave her alone.

What a ridiculous title "Do Oscars Cause Divorces?" What a ridiculous assertion. The Oscar's have nothing to do with Bullock and James. it's apparent that James cheated, right? So what in the world does an Academy Award have to do with this, seriously, really?

No, Oscars don't cause divorces. Dumbells like Jesse James cause divorces

Jesse James... What a dumbell!!! Married to Sandra Bullock and the DUMBS... is out wallowing in trash... Pathetic!!!

What causes divorces are people who weren't meant to be together, and anyone who could be married to a porn star, and cheat with the likes of this broad, obviously is attracted to the sleaze of the world, and should've never married a wholesome person such as Sandra Bullock. Cut your loses, Sandra, and spare yourself the emotional hell of living with someone you can't trust. He deserves to be bounced - and what a surprise this whacko sold him out for $30,000 - everyone's sorry...sorry they got caught more than anything.....

just goes to tell you no matter how "good looking / sexy" a woman is, some guy out there is tired of screwing her! Has anyone wondered what these stars look like off camera, without makeup etc? Thats a starting point.

Please...it is Jesse that needs to repair the marriage not Sandra...He needs to be doing some serious arze kissing if you ask me and imo there aint enough of that in the world to make up for a year long affair...a one night stand would have been bad enough... but this guy was dog ging Sandra for a year...supposedly the last text the sk@nk in question received was on the 14th of this month...when was he planning to end this???????! Piece of work... Men like him are sorry they get caught...that's about it. Sandy you deserve better...do not take him back you might get an std and furthermore he surely has done this before...he just got caught this time...these losers always think they can get away with it...I have seen this happen so many times when guys have the most amazing wives and still look for opportunities...sickening...bad boy bad smoy...the straight arrows are dogs too...look at these phoney politicians...JOhn Edwards...he came off as a "good guy" but man he makes Jesse look like a boy scout... what's a woman to do?

Just goes to show, you can take the man out of the gar(b)age, but you can't always take the gar(b)age out of the man.

ummm, jesse mccartney is hot,and he is definetely not a woman...

it might be true

Why don't we focus on merit, and not on her personal life.

This dude was cheating on Sandra long before she won the Oscar. Saying that her success hurt her marriage is sexist propaganda and not based on reason. Girls, rock on! Be strong. Don't marry white trash, but a guy that matches up.

Excellent, Steve, you've shown yourself to be such a refreshing voice amidst the wiles and wilderness of Hollywood inanity and reportage. Once again you're spot on by calling out your former colleague Nicole La Porte on that stupefyingly asinine correlation between Oscars and divorce. Everyone knows Oscar is much too preoccupied with turning straight actors gay (Charlize Theron, Tom Hanks, and Sean Penn); skinny actors fat and ugly ( Charlize Theron, Robert De Niro and George Clooney) or coaxing them into strange foreign tongues ( Meryl Streep, Rene Zellweger and Gwyneth Paltrow) to mess around with their married lives too.

Interesting analysis.

I am siding on the assumption that something other than the Oscars are at play in the disintegration of Bullock and James' marriage. Clearly something was amiss. But whatever it was, it much darker and deeper than we can hope to understand with what we know so far.

I don't buy they weren't in love, no one, not even Oscar-winning Sandy is that good. So that is a caveat no one is taking into consideration. Even people who deeply love each other can hurt one another. I'll bet Jesse feels pretty low right now.

Sandra Bullock has built up a lot of goodwill in the public and in Hollywood. She should be allowed to decide what she wants to do, WHEN she wants to do it. I don't envy her position. I hope she's ok and is surrounded by people who care about her.

Stupid guys who cheat on their wives cause divorces!

Check out this article about Jesse James and Playgirl - http://bit.ly/91DJiQ


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: