Why is Angelina Jolie still being blamed for Brad Pitt's behaviour?

Team Jennifer or Team Angelina. 

Those were your choices back in 2005 when Brad Pitt split with Jennifer Anniston for Jolie. The fact you were on Team Brad was a given. He wasn't to blame, or so said the public narrative. It was Jolie for being a home wrecker, or Anniston for not being exciting enough for someone like Pitt.  

Pitt and Jolie married, creating the 'perfect' family of eight we all loved to love from afar.

But then they split up, and things got messy. According to a lawsuit filed in relation to a dispute over a winery the couple co-owned together, Jolie accused Pitt of attacking her and her children while drunk, during a private plane flight. 

Watch: A look back at Pitt's telling award speech. Post continues below.

Video via YouTube/Screen Actor's Guild. 

The documents stated that Pitt grabbed her by the head, verbally abused the children and poured alcohol on the family. Pitt denied the allegations and no charges were laid despite FBI and child welfare investigations. 

While the allegations sparked global interest, public commentary went something like this:

"Gorgeous but CRAZY."


"Angelina gives as good as she gets. Give me a break."

"Brad is doing the best he can."

"Must be the role model of Angelina they're following. Pour souls."

"Perhaps he should have stayed with Jen."

Pitt's star continued to rise. He owned his struggles, openly discussing redemption. He won an Oscar and a Screen Actor's Guild Award, and sealed the deal with self-depreciating speeches that drew raucous applause from an audience of Hollywood peers. He continued making movies. Good ones. And he's still hot. 

The world could continue its love affair with an actor they'd worshipped for decades, and not feel guilty.

Regardless of the truth, he feels bad, his remorse instantly turning Jolie into an unforgiving and bitter ex. 

It seems Brad Pitt can do no wrong in the eyes of many. Image: Getty.


As Pitt settled back into his place as Hollywood's hottest, Jolie's focus was elsewhere. As well as being the Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, Jolie is an activist against domestic violence. 

Jolie actively supported America's Violence Against Women Act, working with its sponsors and advocates to add provisions for Kayden's Law, which would address the impact on children in domestic violence cases and require trauma-informed court processes and judicial training.

And yet, she must be lying.

We don't want to believe Pitt is a bad guy. 

Jolie is easy to dislike, some say. Sexy, sexual and a bit weird. She has a troubled history. She must have brought out the worst in Pitt. 

A bit like Amber Heard, whose descriptions of alleged sexual assault were widely mocked. Her accusations of verbal abuse were also cast away, even when recordings of the alleged abuse were played in court.

We don't want to believe Depp's a bad guy either. We've loved him since 12 Jump Street. Since What's Eating Gilbert Grape. He's our favourite cheeky pirate. Heard must have brought him down too. 


A bit like Sophie Turner. Joe Jonas is just too wholesome to be the bad guy. She's a party girl, she must be to blame. 

According to the public narrative, it seems so many of our favourite men are victims of vindictive, dishonest women. 

Pitt's character has been thrust back into the spotlight since an Instagram post made by their oldest child, Pax, back in 2020 resurfaced, off the back of revelations their daughter Zahara had dropped 'Pitt' from her surname.

"Happy Father's Day to this world-class a**hole!! You time and time again prove yourself to be a terrible and despicable person," Pax’s 2020 Instagram post read. 

"You have no consideration or empathy toward your four youngest children who tremble in fear when in your presence," Pax, who was then 16, wrote regarding his siblings Zahara, Shiloh, Vivienne and Knox.

"You have made the lives of those closest to me a constant hell. You may tell yourself and the world whatever you want, but the truth will come to light someday. So, Happy Father's Day, you f**king awful human being!!!"

Yet the public commentary went something like this.

"She taught him to hate their father like she hates her father. Angela has no morals and was never an angel."

"Another woman trying to remove the father from the picture."


"If she was feeding the kids good words, then perhaps we would be reading something different."

You get the picture. Accusations of parental alienation syndrome (where children are turned against one parent by another parent) were rampant, despite the fact that this so-called "syndrome" has been widely debunked as another piece of arsenal in the abuser's toolbox.  

Of course, we don't know what's true, and as they say, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. What we do know though, is that in the face of celebrity separations, particularly those accompanied by allegations of abuse, we want to believe men. 

But why?

According to psychotherapist, Julie Sweet, it comes down to a type of unconscious bias. 

"What I'm referring to is stereotypes or leanings individuals can hold about particular people, a bias they're not subjectively aware of having. Such biases can range from having prejudice toward a person's gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, physicality and more."

In this case, attractive male celebrities. 

"I occasionally receive feedback from clients who disclose difficulty in accepting a celebrity they've revered behaving unacceptably, or witnesses their 'fall from grace' when they have admired the star for so long," says Sweet. 

"Often the general public struggle to process the ideal of the celebrity they've internally constructed, in contrast to how in fact the famous person has actually conducted themselves. Often people hold men and women to different standards."


In the case of celebrities, Sweet says when idealisation and reality don't line up, it can prompt irrational responses. 

"When the two meet it, can be confronting, especially if people have to consider whether or not the celebrity is who they’d perceived them to be. The responsibility lies at the celebrity's feet as they're in the public eye and have the platform they do, so anonymity is obsolete," she notes.

"Denial is a protector factor so it can feel more comfortable for people to have tunnel vision or 'put blinkers on' and not want to believe allegations made about someone they idolise."

Unfortunately, popular culture often informs the rest of society. If we stop giving male celebrities a free pass, maybe we'll begin to see the ripple effect we so desperately need when it comes to domestic violence and victim blaming. 

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a Queensland-based organisation that helps women and families move on after the devastation of domestic violence. If you would like to support their mission to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most, you can donate here.

Feature Image: Getty.

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