Whose side are you on?

It's girl-next-door Jennifer Aniston versus feisty and (reportedly) pregnant Angelina Jolie. And who you support is a personal statement
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The Independent US

Jolie and Pitt posed together as a 1960s-style married couple for a 60-page photo-shoot in W magazine. Then reports surfaced of their wild nights together in Africa. The most recent rumour to appear in the New York Post (and now the whole of the planet's tabloid press), that Jolie is pregnant with Pitt's child, would seem to be the particularly bitter icing on an already sour cake.

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion. Hollywood's finest have declared their interest with the help of the Hollywood boutique Kitson, and their (now sold-out) "Team Aniston" and "Team Jolie" T-shirts. The Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria has just changed sides by apologising to Aniston for wearing a T-shirt that trumpeted the message: "I'll have your baby, Brad". Last week, when Aniston finally broke her silence in an interview in Vanity Fair, the Hollywood bible also nailed its colours to the mast. Aniston's rival is described as "the twice-divorced Jolie - previously known as a tattooed vixen with a taste for bisexuality, heroin, brotherly incest, mental institutions and wearing her husband's blood". Aniston, on the other hand "only has kind words about her marriage", and meets the interviewer with "a radiant smile and an effusive hello".

The loquacious scribes are not alone. Kitson reports that Team Aniston T-shirts are outselling Team Jolie by 25 to one. But in a society where success is all, why do people not side with the girl who got her man?

Let us consider the case for both. The heavily outnumbered Team Jolie supporters admire Jolie's aloof exoticism, her Hollywood pedigree (her father is John Voight) and her rock'n'roll past. Her beauty goes hand-in-hand with an increasingly prominent role as a United Nations goodwill ambassador, in which she has worked to bring the plight of HIV/Aids victims to the world's attention. What more could you want? Jolie is a sexy, independent woman who is using her profile to do something for the common good.

Team Aniston are backing the underdog. Aniston's accessible, girl-next-door kind of beauty (girl-next-door providing you live in Beverly Hills, that is), has been an ever-present on television screens for the past decade. Millions of people around the world know her, or think they do. When she and the world's most desirable man became an item, the public were rooting for her just as they rooted for Rachel in Friends. And, when they broke up, America felt her pain just as keenly.

The crucial factor in this brouhaha is that it is women who are fuelling the debate. It is women who are buying the T-shirts, and women who are discussing the latest piece of Brad/Jen/Angelina gossip. Faced with the prospect of backing the irritatingly beautiful and sexually voracious home-wrecker, or the pretty, vulnerable sitcom star, the outcome is, as they might say in the States, a no-brainer.

But spare a vituperative thought for the one party who seems to have got off scot-free. With all the debate focused on Jolie and Aniston, Pitt has bounced from a relationship with one beautiful, successful woman to another, and come up smelling of roses.

Even the injured party hasn't got a bad word to say about him. Although Aniston's friends admit that the entire affair has been like "having a root canal without anaesthesia", the actress herself is loathe to point the finger of blame at Pitt. Significantly, she refuses to believe that Jolie and Pitt were having an affair while Pitt and she were still together, saying simply: "I choose to believe my husband."

Perhaps worse for Aniston were the publication of those pictures, in W magazine, which showed Pitt and Jolie playing the couple. Still Aniston refuses to blame him, even though it was Pitt's idea and he profited hugely from the shoot by retaining the international copyright to the pictures. "He makes his choices," says Aniston. "He can do - whatever." It is not so much that Aniston and America have forgiven Brad, as that they never blamed him.

No doubt, when the progeny of Pitt and Jolie emerges, there will be another rush on the "Team Aniston" T-shirts (as well as, presumably, a "Team Jolie" romper suit). But surely Kitson and the chattering citizens of Tinseltown are missing a trick. Where's the "Boo to Brad" singlet? The "Pitt's the Pits" underwear range? How come Brad gets to sow his oats in whatever celebrity furrow he pleases without so much as a raised eyebrow? Sisters of Sunset Boulevard, it is time to unite.