In a new study conducted by Penn State University, a team of researchers confirmed that Gen Z’s fervent efforts to bring back Y2K trends have inadvertently resurrected the Jennifer Lopez/Ben Affleck relationship commonly known as “Bennifer.”
According to their research, women aged 16-24 are inexplicably attempting to revive early 2000s crimes of fashion. Such abominations as butterfly clips, velour jumpsuits, and blue-tinted sunglasses have all recently trended on TikTok.
This admiration for bygone trends has grown so intense that researchers believe Gen Z also unwittingly manifested the reunion of the former Hollywood power couple, just as Britney Spears’s dancing manifested the blue diamond from Titanic at the end of her “Oops! … I Did It Again” music video.
“We first suspected something was amiss when the Jen and Brad rumors started a few years ago,” says lead researcher Dr. Avi Horowitz. “But when we saw those Montana photos, we could no longer deny the facts. As a result of Gen Z’s reckless fandom, we’re now dealing with something far bigger and more terrifying than the return of low-rise jeans and bedazzling: the possibility of Gigli 2.”
Penn State’s team spoke to one 19-year-old who wishes to keep her identity anonymous “due to personal safety concerns and not because she is ashamed of her new Christina Aguilera-inspired highlights.” The teen claims she was mining her mother’s closet for old cargo pants to sell on Depop when Jen and Ben suddenly materialized in the back corner, clutching a spec script for a remake of Jersey Girl. When she asked the pair what they were doing together, Bennifer replied, “Honestly, we’re just as confused as everyone else is.”
Despite the dire side effects, Dr. Horowitz understands the root of Y2K nostalgia. “Through our work, we’ve concluded Gen Z’s affinity for the early 2000s reflects a longing for a time when teenage life was devoid of cell phones and social media. They yearn for the blissful ignorance of being offline, and the ability to simply disconnect by explaining it’s another family member’s turn to use the Internet,” he explains.
“Unfortunately, they’ve failed to realize their yearning for the past is misguided,” Horowitz adds. “As a society, we moved on. Not necessarily to better things, but still. Time is meant to move forward, not backwards. I mean, what’s next? A Jessica Simpson/Nick Lachey reunion?”
At press time, researchers were unable to conclude if Gen Z is also responsible for the return of cicadas, who have likewise re-emerged after a seventeen-year hiatus.
Lindsay Hameroff is a humor writer and satirist. She lives in Harrisburg, PA with her husband and two kids. Her work has been published in Little Old Lady Comedy, Slackjaw, Points in Case, Frazzled, and more. In her spare time, she can be found reading, cooking, wrangling children, or fantasizing about making brisket for Harry Styles. You can find her on Twitter @LindsayHameroff.