Gossips can’t handle a romance that rewrote the script

Younger man, older woman – it’s bound to fail, right? Sheena Hastings reports.

THE knives are out and the chanting of “we told you so” is certainly being practiced by the legions of Hollywood watchers who behave like crones around the guillotine. Nothing would set their knitting needles clicking or tongues wagging with more glee than to hear confirmation of the rumour that Demi and Ashton have broken up.

The Demi in question is actress Demi Moore, 48, and Ashton is Tinseltown’s most in-demand romantic lead, Ashton Kutcher, her 33-year-old husband of six years. They met eight years ago, spent the whole evening engrossed in conversation and married a couple of years later.

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But from the moment they went public, the nay-sayers have shaken their heads, predicting that the relationship was doomed.

Right from the start the assumption made by people who knew little of what was going on was that Ashton would have much more in common with Moore’s three teenage daughters than with his bride.

They expected that in order to keep her younger man interested Demi would be constantly working out, topping up the Botox, having herself tweaked by the plastic surgeon (and yes, she reportedly had work done around ten years ago, the results of which were shown off when she sported a body many 21-year-olds would envy) and generally denying her true age.

It has probably never occurred to these people that (already very beautiful) Demi maintains herself to such an impossible standard because she works in a business that’s generally brutal to older women – or that she just enjoys trouncing 18-year-olds on the treadmill.

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The couple might show a united and devoted front in public, said the critics (who really should get out more), but behind closed doors Demi would be in bed with an eye mask on at 9pm in order to get her beauty sleep, while Ashton would inevitably return to doing what young, handsome men do – frequenting bars, clubs and parties where there’s plenty of young, nubile female distraction available for those who want it.

A certain acidic judgemental tone is reserved for women who transgress the old-fashioned narrow perceptions of what a relationship should be, and there’s a “she asked for it” whiff of satisfaction amongst these people when the woman they’ve been busily bitching about gets her “come-uppance” and loses the younger man. She dared to aspire to a young, handsome, solvent, virile bloke – and look what happened to her. She should have accepted the rule that says the average gap between male and female partners is 2.2 years (the man being older) and she should not have reached beyond the accepted norm society lays down.

Well, anyway, it appears that Moore and Kutcher have been having differences and may have split up. Cue hosts of other older women who date or have married younger men wondering whether their relationship is also bound to fail. If tiny, toned, glossy, confident Moore can’t hang onto her toyboy, what chance have they? Can they really think so little of themselves?

The inference from the Greek Chorus’s commentary is that these so-called “cougar” women are unhealthily prowling around and stalking young men. They are unnatural. No matter than many of them may have been dumped by unappreciative, inattentive men their own age and older, who snore loudly, forget to trim their nasal hair, fall asleep straight after dinner and still somehow manage to head off into the sunset with some insecure much younger woman.

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The Michael Douglas/Catherine Zeta Jones relationship (to be fair, I’ve no idea whether he snores after dinner or fails to sort out the nose hair) is considered much less worthy of comment and criticism than that of Madonna, 53, and 25-year-old Jesus Luz.

Both Luz and Kutcher were, unsurprisingly, attracted to confident, interesting, gutsy older women who know what they want far more than most 22-year-olds.

The point I’m getting to – and I do have one – is that, actually, if Demi and Ashton have gone separate ways, why should anyone assume (as they are doing) that it is he who is unhappy?

Why should it be taken for granted that the issue is the age difference – a none-too-subtle way of blaming Demi. In fact, if Ashton has strayed as is alleged, the simple truth is probably more likely to be that he is the sort who can’t resist temptation.

Sadly, whatever age the wife, some men are just weak. Either that, or he just couldn’t keep up with his magnificent wife and threw in the towel, exhausted.