The Hamilton Spectator
Affleck’s sad Grammys face an inspiration
Unlike Will Smith at the Oscars, there was never a threat to anyone. If anything, Ben Affleck’s face looked like it wanted to slap itself
Most actors are good at disguising their true feelings.
Then there is Ben Affleck. At the Grammys this week, there were many storylines, including Beyoncé winning her 32nd. She is now the most decorated artist in music history. If Queen Bey melted down her trophies, she’d have enough zinc alloy to build a playground for her kids. And then Mr. Affleck would frown in the bushes.
Of all the Grammy storylines after Sunday’s broadcast — including Shania Twain’s bold choice to hit the red carpet in a suit and giant hat clearly designed by the ghost of Dr. Seuss and the Dairy Farmers of America — the biggest buzz was Ben Affleck’s face.
In several reaction shots that went viral, the star does not look like he’s perched in the front row at a glam award show next to his glam wife, Jennifer Lopez. He looks like he just found a roach in his enchilada. He looks like he’d rather be doing anything — scrubbing the grout in a public washroom with his Oral-B, wrestling a grizzly, taking a skinny dip in hydrofluoric acid — than attending the Grammys.
In one awkward moment, Affleck whispers something in J.Lo’s ear. She snaps at him, leaving him even more miserable. The Daily Mail commissioned a lip reader this week — of course it did — to decipher this inaudible flare-up between the newlyweds.
Jennifer allegedly told Ben: “Stop. Look more friendly. Look motivated.”
To which he replied, “I might.” He did not.
Now he’s in the bomb sights of taunts, jokes and schadenfreude.
Me, I just want to be best friends with Ben Affleck’s face.
In one Grammys photo, the actor poses with Lopez, the Rock and singer Lauren Hashian, or Mrs. the Rock. The last three are all smiles. Affleck has the visage of a railroaded man getting a life sentence for a murder he did not commit.
The facial honesty is so refreshing. I wanted to affectionately pinch his cheeks.
We have all been somewhere we did not want to be. We go because that’s what you do in a relationship. It can’t just be about you. So, every now and again, you find yourself at a bylaw tribunal or matinee performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”
I have dragged my wife to Jays games. By the second inning, can I feel her soul seeping through her pores due to her bone-numbing boredom? Yes. Do I care? No. Quid pro quo.
I watched that ridiculous “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy with her and now we are even. If I can absorb nine hours of barefoot hobbits trekking across Middle-earth to toss a stupid ring in lava, she can watch Alek Manoah bring the heat.
But if I suddenly snapped and told her to look more friendly and motivated?
She’d slap the blue cap off my head and hit the exits.
Ben Affleck’s face could have done what every celebrity face does and play it safe at the Grammys with a fake smile. But as we’ve learned over the years, Ben Affleck’s face is not afraid to keep it real. Ben Affleck’s face scowls at the paparazzi and rebels against tedium. Ben Affleck’s face got so morose during a 2016 film junket, it spawned a melancholy meme that, as of this week, now has a powerful sequel.
On Monday, to neutralize stories about a possible tiff in paradise, Lopez posted Grammy snaps on Instagram: “Always the best time with my love, my husband.”
The problem? Ben Affleck’s face did not appear to be having the best time, even in images curated by the other half of the Bennifer portmanteau. Ben Affleck’s face was clearly not in party mode on Sunday. Ben Affleck’s face was in existential dread mode. Ben Affleck’s face looked like it was trying to withstand the full weight of the cosmos.
We may never really know why Ben Affleck’s face turned the Grammys into the Grumpys. Maybe it was just a weird coincidence. Maybe he was having a blast until a camera was on him and, in those split seconds, he looked like he was stuck in rush hour with a sawscaled viper slithering under the driver’s seat.
But unlike Will Smith at the Oscars, there was never a threat to anyone.
If anything, Ben Affleck’s face looked like it wanted to slap itself.
And a celebrity with the courage to not feign exuberance is a beautiful thing.
We shouldn’t be mocking Ben Affleck’s face at the Grammys. We should be celebrating its gloomy authenticity. The only path to happiness is knowing when you are sad. Ben Affleck’s face at the Grammys and my wife’s face at a baseball game are spiritual twins. They don’t want to be where they are. They’re not acting.
By contrast, scroll through J.Lo’s Instagram to see how the boldface have weaponized illusion. The filters, the narrative posturing, the subliminal emphasis on wealth and cultural cachet — it’s all socially corrosive. It’s the monetization of selfdeception.
Ben Affleck’s face isn’t lying to itself or to us.
“Sad Affleck” is not just a meme — it’s an inspiration to keep it real.