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Image / Living / Culture

Is Ben Affleck the most memeable man ever? 


By Sarah Finnan
02nd Feb 2024

@goldenglobes via Instagram

Is Ben Affleck the most memeable man ever? 

The man, the myth, the meme.

Some people know him as Ben Affleck the actor, others know him as Ben Affleck, JLo’s husband. I personally know him as Ben Affleck the walking meme. 

As one of Hollywood’s most well-known, and well-established stars, I think it’s fair to say that Ben Affleck has a life many would kill for. He’s rich, accomplished, good-looking, married to JLo, on good terms with his ex (Jennifer Garner) and calls Matt Damon his best friend – he’s been afforded more good fortune than most in this lifetime… and yet, he rarely looks happy. In fact, he looks pretty miserable (even if he isn’t) a large majority of the time. 

First achieving meme status way back in 2016, “Sad Affleck” was all the internet could talk about for days on end. Seven years later and that same photo is still part of the zeitgeist, now joined by quite a few others. I mean, we’ve all seen the Dunkin’ Donuts photos, right? Or the exasperated paparazzi shots of him smoking outside his front door? What about the ones of his towel-clad beach reverie? 

At last year’s Grammys, Affleck provided us with yet more meme fodder. Sitting front row with his superstar wife, Affleck didn’t exactly look thrilled to be there. He actually looked a little bored. For every smile JLo flashed to camera, Ben grimaced. The two even seemed to fall out over it, at least if a now-viral clip of the couple supposedly “fighting” is to be believed. 

In said clip, Affleck can be seen whispering in Lopez’s ear, before she whips around to face him, gently patting his chest as if to placate (or perhaps scold?) him. It could be totally harmless, but it’s kind of giving “man tired of shopping, spends entire time huffing in dressing room”… so, hard to say. 

According to DailyMail.com, Jen apparently told Affleck to “Stop. Look more friendly. Look motivated”… to which Ben responded with a stroppy, “I might”. 

The subsequent photos of him are even less flattering. He looks like a man on the edge, a man having an out-of-body experience and not because he’s at the Grammys, sitting beside JLo and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, but because his social battery is draining at an increasingly worrying rate. He is a man who would rather be, well, anywhere else. 

He looked equally unimpressed at this year’s Golden Globes ceremony.

Celebrities are humans too though, lest we forget. Periodically, the mask slips, and what we’re left with is Affleck’s ‘I’m so done with this’ face. He’s allegedly worth close to $150 million dollars but he has a questionable back tattoo and isn’t very good at flirting, so really, he’s one of us. 

Privileged as he is, Affleck’s vexation is understandable. As Vulture puts it, his “uneasy relationship” with celebrity “owes a lot to the level of invasive scrutiny he’s dealt with steadily over the years”. Both the ups and the downs of his life have been chronicled in vivid, at times excruciating detail; it’s no wonder he’s fed up. 

“If it feels like Affleck’s greatest role to date has been as himself, the reluctant celebrity, it’s because his pap pics are rich with narrative and unfiltered emotion,” the Vulture article notes. “He has a fascinating expressiveness that he can’t seem to help offscreen. The wild virality of Affleck’s most famous snapshots comes from the fact that they capture a side of him his movies rarely do, showcasing an unusual level of masculine vulnerability.” Which hits the nail on the head I think.

Ben Affleck is a refreshing departure from the type of Hollywood celebrity we’re used to seeing. Unlike other stars so often accused of orchestrating paparazzi shoots for press, Ben’s photos are unmanicured and real. They catch him in moments when he doesn’t know he’s being watched (which seems slightly naive given his fame) and the vacant, glazed-over look in his eyes evokes a truly profound sense of emptiness that we can’t help but relate to. He’s seldom smiling, always deadpan, usually in the midst of dropping an iced coffee (which would make anyone vexed). 

Conversely, the opposite is also true and there are times where Affleck seems all too aware of the media attention, playing into it with strategic gestures that let us know he’s in on the joke – a photo of his hand on JLo’s famous derrière, for example, alluding to a similar shot in the Jenny From the Block music video. Was this intentional or an absentminded gesture of affection? We’ll probably never know… and therein lies the appeal.

Ben Affleck is so memeable because he is so expressive (he’s an actor, duh). He has an innate ability to capture some of the most tiresome moments of life with something so simple as a sigh or a well-timed grimace. He is, to use the cultural jargon, a whole mood. 

Facebook collage: IMAGE collage using imagery sourced via Instagram. This is an updated version of an article that was originally published in February 2023. 

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