Couples

‘Power Couple’ Is a Stupid Phrase So Let’s Stop Using It

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Let’s put the term “Power Couple” down the same fantasy garbage shoot as “selfie.”

On their own, celebrities that possess the qualities of wealth, beauty, and talent are adored from afar by millions of fans. But when they come together to form a duo, that’s when their celebrity tends to fly off the charts.  For stars like David and Victoria Beckham, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and the ultimate twosome, Jay-Z and Beyonce, their stock as a duo is even more valuable than if they existed on their own. They may be talented singers/actors/whatever alone, but when a celebrity spouse is considered to be more than just a “plus one,” the possibilities for further success – and failure – continue to skyrocket.

The concept a “Power Couple” existed long before it was a solidly-defined term. Throughout history, famous couples of every kind have commanded headlines. Hey, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are so heavily associated with each other that some people may not even recognize their names separately. But a true power couple, known on their own, yet explosive together, is meant for couples like Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. So how did we get to the point where every D-lister in Hollywood who shacks up with someone is labeled as a member of a Power Couple? The inclusion of Lena Dunham (sure!) and the guitarist from fun. (huh.), as well as the certainly lovely-but-questionably-powerful Emily Blunt and her husband, retired sitcom star John Krasinski, on this E! list, is just one use of the term that has us scratching our heads.

Search “Power Couple” in Google, and once you get by the typical Beyonce and Jay-Z entries, you’re sure to be served a fresh slice of “Who the hell is that?” We’ve reached peak power couple-dom, and sooner rather than later, we’re all going to be getting press releases declaring every socialite and her hedge fund husband to be rising stars. The term is the now empty. Just cruise any of the weekly gossip rags at the grocery store, and you can see this easily. Let’s take LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian, for example. I’m sure they’re lovely people, but a power couple? I think not. Hell, Eddie’s notoriety is basically an extension of his former wife’s, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Brandi Glanville. And LeAnn, though a very talented singer, has overshadowed her musical prowess with her own relationship drama. We’re even at the point where the term is used to connect people who aren’t even alive. In this People.com slideshow, deceased actress Natalie Wood and internet celebrity Grumpy Cat are placed together as a fantasy “Power Couple.” It’s as if we ran out of real people to talk about, and had to start picking through the archives to make up something new.

A trend that’s only become recognized recently is the identification of gay male power couples. Nowadays, we throw around this term for gay duos all the time.  For example, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are declared by the media to be the ultimate Power Couples now, even though I’m sure a lot of people couldn’t even say what Burtka does for a living. (His Wikipedia says he’s an actor and a chef, respectively.) In this US Weekly slideshow of “Gay Power Couples,” you’re guaranteed to see a few people you probably have never even heard of. Take George Takei and Brad Altman. The former Star Trek actor may be a national treasure, but the source of their “power” is a little lost on me.  They can’t even get married in a majority of states. Where is the power in that? The gay couples that are placed on a pedestal as being powerful and mighty – well, probably would have been closeted not long ago. The same industry that forced loving, caring couples like these to hide their realities in past decades is now fawning all over them. While it’s great to see the attitude towards gay couples shift, let’s not pretend that calling two men “Hollywood’s hottest power duo” will make up for years of oppression.

Gay woman seemed to have been accepted in Hollywood as “Power Couples” before men ever were. Together, Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche were the queens of Tinseltown’s lady-love brigade. They appeared together in the press line at premieres, waving at the paparazzi like old friends. But let’s get serious; there is no highlight of that relationship that tops its demise, and when the two broke up and Anne Heche (excuse me, “Celestia”) was found rolling on ecstasy (okay, “exhaustion,” whatever) in a house in Fresno waiting for her spaceship to arrive. As an audience, we certainly love famous couples, but nothing tops America’s fascination with what happens when a celebrity couple falls apart.

Possibly the most fascinating aspect of a power couple’s relationship is what happens when it implodes. Some of celebrity’s most notorious former power couples (think Bennifer, TomKat, and pretty much anyone whose name is shortened and jammed together) seemed to fascinate the world even more when their relationship destructs. Together, they’re treated as celebrity royalty. But when they break up, we act it as if the world might fall apart. Can you imagine what would happen if someday, Jay-Z decided to pack up his surfbort and leave Beyonce for Rihanna? You could probably see Giuliana Rancic’s head explode on the red carpet (speaking of which, are she and her reality star husband a power couple? Of course they are!) But fact is, if you check out any sort of “Power Couple” list from a few years ago, about a third of the couples are already dunzo. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston? Bye. Heidi Klum and Seal? Baiiiiii. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher? JK, nobody ever cared about them.

So since we’re all set with terms like “selfies” and “twerking,” let’s include “Power Couples” in the big vocabulary garbage bin in the sky. Think of it this way; if we’re officially pairing deceased celebrities and internet-famous felines, or random D-Listers whose chance of staying together is minimal, maybe the world is trying to tell us something.