As surprising as the great Ben Affleck–Jennifer Lopez reunion of 2021 was, it might be even more surprising that, a month after the gleeful initial reports of the couple’s Montana rendezvous, Bennifer is still Bennifering with no end in sight. If things had fizzled after that trip, the news surely would have been greeted with shrugs and wistful sighs. Instead, to what seems to be just about every celebrity gazer’s delight, we’ve gotten a steady trickle of updates in the weeks since, the high point of which might have been a simple photo of the ever-rakish Affleck leaving J. Lo’s house one morning with a smile on his face that wordlessly suggested he may just be having as good a time with all of this as the rest of us.
That was the high point until now, at least. Monday brought the juiciest Bennifer reunion morsel yet in the form of a video—not even a photo, a whole video—of the couple kissing. Yes, full-on smooching. I can’t remember the last time it’s been such big news that two people kissed, can you? Which is of course part of why this is so fun: It feels both retro and timeless. Page Six blessed us with the footage this afternoon, which was reportedly taken Sunday at a “steamy, PDA-packed” dinner at perennial see-and-be-seen haunt Nobu in Malibu.
Well, actually, point of order: Did Page Six bless us, or was it merely a conduit? With all due respect to Page Six’s reporting chops, we may owe the blessings to Lopez and Affleck themselves. In marked contrast to the last time they were together and the media frenzy that ensued, the two seem to have a noticeable amount of control surrounding the narrative of their relationship this go-around. The much-covered location for the proud PDA was certainly not an accident. Whether they learned a thing or two in the crucible of early-2000s tabloid culture or the press is a tad less invasive than it was then, they seem to be successfully courting the attention they want while thus far avoiding overexposure and other pitfalls. Their romance comes off as sweet and family-friendly, even. (People magazine also touted its own exclusive of the smooch event, citing a gushing “Nobu source” who noted the pair held hands under the table.) In other words, this kissing video is a far cry from the butt pat heard round the world in the “Jenny From the Block” music video.
Let’s look closely at the tape itself. (Don’t be shy.) When the clip begins, the two are looking at each other adoringly as Lopez, mostly hidden by a bush, has one hand on Affleck’s face. Soon, she emerges from behind the bush and pulls Affleck in for a kiss. They lock lips and he puts a hand on her arm, but he quickly moves over to start kissing her neck, at which point she starts caressing his shoulder. They start kissing again, and at this point it looks like her hand froze mid-caress and is making an A-OK gesture on top of his shoulder. No argument, Jen, he is a fine specimen. They pull away and hug—perhaps Ben whispers in her ear, she smiles widely—and then one of Lopez’s children enters the frame, smartphone in hand. He’s showing something to his mother, and both she and Affleck look at the screen very seriously. Then Affleck’s expression lightens, and Lopez’s daughter approaches her from behind and hugs her over her shoulders.
Voila, end of video. I’m not at all accusing the video of being staged or inauthentic, but I can scarcely imagine a sweeter scenario for a celebrity supercouple to be caught kissing for the first time in the second incarnation of their relationship: They look great, they’re passionate but not gross, and the presence of the kids shows that they’re comfortable with Affleck, that this is all pretty aboveboard. It’s low-key, or as low-key as it gets when you’re Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. And there is approximately zero chance they didn’t know all eyes were on them.
When the rumblings of Bennifer being back on began, I, like pretty much everyone in my demographic, was excited. But I also thought there was a decent chance it wasn’t real, and for that reason, I thought I would be satisfied with a quick fling: They share some good times and get some press; we eat the photos up like catnip; everybody gets in and out quickly without getting hurt. Well, I’ve changed my tune. Even if a lot of what we’re seeing is them manipulating the press, I don’t care. It’s been too fun; we need this. American life has already made so much more progress than anyone dared imagine since January, and as far as I’m concerned, Bennifer is a symbol of a summer many of us never thought we’d have. I don’t need another movie together or even an engagement—and this new incarnation so far seems too savvy for that, anyway—but maybe we can get a joint, unmasked red carpet walk out of this? Would you not die? Dare to dream.