Finally, People.com has a long-awaited update to the Shailene Woodley/Aaron Rodgers/anti-vaxx/hairy hands saga, a story that some people believe began in 2021, but in reality began on December 2, 1983, when Rodgers came barreling unbidden into our universe. If you have no idea what I am talking about, walk away now. It’s better this way. But for those who only need a brief refresher of the issue at (hairy) hand:
In early November, Rodgers, an old football player with whom I was previously and blissfully unfamiliar, was diagnosed with COVID-19, then promptly exposed for having lied about being vaccinated and putting untold people at risk. He subsequently made a jackass of himself on various radio programs by ranting about ivermectin and his “cancel-culture casket.” This was really only funny in an absurdist, nihilistic sense. But the next thing that happened was definitely funny, and I remain grateful for it.
Woodley, a tall actress who became engaged to self-proclaimed “non-crazed individual” Rodgers sometime during quarantine (much more on this later), was at first conspicuously silent, refusing to comment on Rodgers’s duplicity or her own vaccination status, despite voracious public interest. Instead, she shared only what “Page Six” described as a “cryptic” photo of a woman drowning sensuously in the sea accompanied by text that read, “Calm Seas May Bring You Peace, But Storms Are Where You’ll Find Your Power.” (I have read this quote one hundred times and can only understand it as a kind of anthropomorphization of the concept of electricity.) But days later, after the Daily Mail posted a (now-deleted!) article suggesting it had spotted Rodgers breaking his quarantine, Woodley found her power in a storm.
In a series of Instagram Stories, Woodley screenshotted the Daily Mail’s photos of an innocent wretch it mistook for Rodgers and proceeded to (1) ignore the actual issue and (2) insult this non-famous total stranger on levels both physical and philosophical. “Literally ya’ll need to calm the fuck down. this is straight up HILARIOUS. news outlets STILL grasping at straws to disparage aaron. finding random fucking men on the streets of la and saying it’s him,” she wrote. Woodley then, inexplicably, decided to veer the one-way conversation toward the size of Rodgers’s penis and this unidentified man’s definitively smaller penis: “i know aaron’s body. VERY well. first off, his feet, ahem and no offense to this random dude, are a LOT bigger. ;).” Shortly thereafter, she insulted the man’s choice of vehicle: “cute car dude, but aaron would never drive this.” Then she hammered the final nail into what I am sure she now perceives to be her own “cancel-culture casket” (recycled wood, unvarnished): “it’s no secret [Aaron] has the hairiest hands on the fucking planet. this oblivious homie, clearly, does not.” She then invited her viewers to see the hirsute truth for themselves: “(go ahead, zoom in.)”
Rodgers and Woodley caught a lot of shit for both of these things. In an attempt to make everyone forget any of this ever happened, the two have done relatively little publicly in the months since, except for, I guess, play football (Rodgers), discuss Saturn returns with an astrologist on Instagram Live for 37 minutes (Woodley), and explain, via an anonymous source, why Rodgers didn’t post anything for Woodley’s birthday: “Shailene and Aaron are still together. It’s not odd they don’t post about each other on their birthdays in that sense, and are very private about things.” Everyone on the internet nodded in understanding: Things were Not Odd.
This week, however, we got a Possibly Odd update, one suggesting that Woodley’s publicist had finally figured out the angle on all of this — the same angle recently employed (with far more specificity and anti-vaxx condemnation) by Cheryl Hines. According to the “anonymous source,” Woodley and Rodgers “agree to disagree” on politics. “They are not talking about their politics, and they never really have,” says the source. “They disagreed on a lot of things. Early on, they decided to agree to disagree about things and not debate them.” This is, of course, a wildly privileged position — to be rich, detached from reality, and unbothered enough to say, “Honey, let’s leave the politics out of it and go to Disney World during a pandemic in inexplicable hats.” It’s also totally fascinating.
One of the more annoying lines of thinking that’s emerged in the time since Rodgers’s vaccination meltdown is that it’s sexist to wonder whether Woodley, who is famously woo-woo, is somehow responsible for Rodgers’s unvaccinated status. I agree that it is sexist to ask this question. The better question, one that respects the feminist movement and appropriately disrespects the behavior of both parties, is this: What do they agree to disagree on, exactly? Where do Woodley’s political (and astrologically sensitive) beliefs begin and Rodgers’s unchecked viral load end?
What Does Shailene Woodley Believe?
To untangle his hairy appendages from her preternaturally long ones, we must, as they say, go back to the tapes. Let’s look at Woodley’s pre-pandemic beliefs first, because feminism. Let me start by saying that I have met and interviewed her a few times, and she was always nice. But most people are neither good nor bad; they can be nice and also be one-half of a couple spreading misinformation that results in mass preventable death. Woodley was raised in Simi Valley, California, home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, named after the president who ignored AIDS. In interviews, she describes her younger self as a “nerdy calculus girl” who “looked outside of the box,” an early indicator of where this is all heading. She was on an abstinence-propaganda teen TV series that she later admitted did not line up with her own politics, which are, to her credit, goodish — she campaigned for Bernie Sanders and got arrested for protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Unfortunately, she also has a tendency to “team up” with craven corporations like American Express to “remove plastic from the oceans” and, in the process, take “so many planes” to look at the bad ocean plastic, likely negating any positive effects of said ocean cleanup.
Woodley’s long journey toward what looks uncomfortably like the whirling ideological center of the anti-vaxx movement started innocently enough, along its outer rings, with the vague concept of “wellness,” a general distrust of established medicine and science, saying weird things about feminism, and talking about The Secret. Things began in earnest roughly around the year 2012, when Woodley tweeted that “being stung by stinging nettle has got to be one of my most favorite sensations ever– AWAKE. ALIVE. :) grateful!” The next year, she claimed to begin every day by screaming, “Good morning! Good morning! Exciting day! Exciting day!” I actually like this. In the same interview, moderated by Emma Stone, she praised the concept of rewilding: “I just started adapting my lifestyle to that of Indigenous people, and what I realized is that we’re all indigenous creatures on this planet.” The impetus for this lifestyle shift, she said, was that she was “dependent on all of these systems. I was dependent on going to the doctor to tell me what was wrong with me.”
In 2014, she quite famously told Into the Gloss that she “suns” her vagina, something I have since attempted to incorporate into my own lifestyle without going to prison. But it was in Flaunt magazine where she went one Goop step further, sharing, “I make my own medicines; I don’t get those from doctors. It’s an entire lifestyle. It’s appealing to my soul.” She reiterated as much to WebMD, the medical database for people who strive to develop anxiety disorders, stating that she leads “an extremely alternative lifestyle” and follows “a form of thinking based upon the Wise Woman Tradition.” (The Wise Woman Tradition, according to its website, was founded by a woman named Susun Weed who “has no official diplomas of any kind; she left high school in her junior year to pursue studies in mathematics and artificial intelligence at UCLA and she left college in her junior year to pursue life.”)
Woodley explained that for her, the tradition includes, among other things, “foraging for wild food” and her own spring water (in Los Angeles, no easy feat) and appreciating the “beauty” of her menstrual cycle. She’s also been known to wear a “Navajo pendant” to remind her that her “religion is the earth, man … I believe in trees,” and she has name-checked the “Red Tent Temple Movement,” which, as she briefly elaborated, “basically honors women” but is not “feminist or ‘anti-men.’” This, of course, harkens back to the long “does Shailene Woodley call herself a feminist” discourse that lasted for many irredeemably stupid years, after she told Time, “I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.”
But there were always signs that Woodley’s charmingly kooky anti-Establishment vibes had the potential to curdle into something vaguely Joker Mode. When Woodley was 18, she moved into a “cabin in the middle of the woods with no cell phone, no Wi-Fi,” for an unidentified amount of time, describing herself as a “loner.” For a long time, she wore Vibrams, and when people asked her about them, she shamed them for not “thinking about the genocides going on in Africa.” In an interview with this very magazine, she stated that “oblivion is inevitable.” Woodley, a longtime TV star, has gone on record negging her friends who deign to watch TV. “When do people have time to? I’m a reader, so I always read a book” (but not books by a doctor). She is a consummate appreciator of alternative facts: When a cheerful interviewer on the Snowden red carpet asked what she probably assumed was a fun question about Woodley’s favorite conspiracy theories, Woodley flashed a terrified look to the camera: “There’s a lot,” she said slowly. “But that’s tricky. I can’t answer a question about conspiracy theories right now during this interview.” She then threw a silk cape over her head and disappeared into the ether.
While these quotes raise the possibility that Woodley has been green-pilled (red-pilled by the woods), it’s also possible she is simply garden-variety unaware. Though she told Bustle she spent most of her early COVID-19 quarantine alone in the woods (again!) after breaking up with rugby player Ben Volavola, painting and and pondering how she “loves sex,” she also scooted right on over to the region of Patagonia in the middle of the pandemic to make a recycled-glasses line that she hopes inspires people to be more “free and connected.”
After reviewing this preponderance of important information, it’s time to ask this: Is Woodley vaccinated? Though a fan account on Twitter has decided that Woodley is certainly vaccinated because of a screenshotted paragraph proclaiming that “Zone A employees (e.g., background actors)” require vaccination on the set of her current project, Showtime’s Three Women, it’s difficult to say for sure. I reached out to the show’s publicist, asking for clarification. The publicist confirmed on background that Three Women has a Zone A vaccination mandate, but refused to disclose any other information, including what the hell Zone A means. The term has been thrown around a lot these days as sets attempt to create some consistency in COVID regulations; Netflix, for example, describes Zone A as “those who come in close contact with actors,” but does not mention the actors themselves. Woodley has said nothing about her vaccine status but has popped back onto Instagram to (hilariously) burn people for not understanding how Instagram Stories work: “Just read somewhere that the media is claiming I deleted an Insta story amid the ‘chaos.’ (An astrology post of all things) (not cryptic at all you dummies.) Do you even know how stories work brah.”
What Does Aaron Rodgers Believe?
Actually, who is Aaron Rodgers? This is a question I had to pose to my boyfriend when I began writing this piece; I beseeched him to tell me in the quickest and least boring way possible. He described Rodgers as a talented football player who previously had the goodwill of the public because he had never done anything specifically idiotic, and that’s all I am going to get into here from a football perspective because, unlike these two crazy kids, I know my intellectual limits.
Rodgers was born in Chico, California, which means “little” in Spanish. This was probably hard for someone with such large extremities, always bumping into stuff. He is estranged from his father, a chiropractor who is nonetheless “proud of him” for refusing to be vaccinated and willing to go out on a limb to call out Rodgers’s “haters” for refusing to listen closely to Rodgers’s “eloquent” remarks on the Pat McAfee Show. His brother was on The Bachelor, but they are in a “feud.” “Fame can change things,” said the Rodgers patriarch ominously in 2017 to the New York Times.
Much like Woodley, it’s clear Rodgers has long been invested in conspiracy theories and the unknowable, if you know where to look (everywhere). For example, Rodgers said he saw a UFO in New Jersey in 2005, which is honestly just an indicator of a man ahead of the times and the Times. “The only reference that makes sense for people who have seen Independence Day is that scene when the spaceship is coming through the atmosphere, and the airplane’s coming toward it, and it’s just kind of a moving orange object. That’s what it was in the sky,” he said reasonably and in good taste. Rodgers has read an unnamed book on JFK, which he describes as a “dense” and “crazy exposé,” three times, which may be too many times for some but not for others. Seneca Wallace, a former QB, once said of Rodgers, “He’s always thinking the crazy conspiracies. So he’s like, ‘Hey, what do you think all that stuff is flying behind that jet stream? Do you think it has anything to do with maybe why everybody’s getting cancer?’” He added that Rodgers “marches to the beat of his own drum” (which Rodgers recently said of himself on Pat McAfee), and in another interview said he is “always looking for loopholes,” a chilling premonition.
Here and there, Rodgers is still spiking his hair like this. This suggests a detachment from the concept of time that he would soon address directly in perhaps the most untethered interview I’ve ever read, one that holds every possible key to understanding Aaron Rodgers and, ultimately, Shailene Woodley and their mutual role in the unfolding of the universe. Tied very tenuously to a watch-company partnership, undercutting every possible tenet of journalism, the fall 2021 Haute Living piece described Rodgers as a man who “has the easy smile and quick laugh of a man who’s at peace with himself and his place in life” while “talking about watches and time as a construct.”
The whole thing is worth reading, but my favorite part is when Rodgers says, “Time is a construct for sure.” For sure! Later, he quotes Ricky Gervais; says he “wears a tiny towel” because it represents “old-school toughness”; and describes his morning self-talk routine, which is not unlike Woodley’s: “All right, man, you look good. You’re looking a little sleepy this morning, but you look good. You’re awesome. I love you so much. We’re going to have a great day.” To believe for sure that time is a construct but the self is a tangible constant worthy of acknowledgment requires a level of self-deception so profound that I have to simply marvel. Perhaps it’s why Rodgers takes part of his NFL salary in bitcoin, but makes the rest of his money in traditional-dollar form from dozens of corporate sponsorships, including, but not limited to: Bose, State Farm, Izod, Zenith, QuickBooks, FedEx, and TaylorMade Golf. (Some of them have backed away slowly with their hands in the air after Rodgers described taking pills for horses with worms to protect his sperm count.)
At another point in the interview, Rodgers describes his struggles with perfectionism and self-criticism, and explains that he “never want[s] to come across as somebody who’s got it all figured out … I love the back and forth with people who disagree with me or don’t quite understand what I’m saying,” which presages his ability to “agree to disagree” with his future lover. I would describe this sentiment as the opposite of labeling people who disagree with you as the “woke mob,” but that would be really woke-mob-like of me.
Despite his clear derision for facts, Rodgers is obsessed with Jeopardy!, a show about facts. For a brief moment, he attempted to host it. He did this most aggressively during a ten-minute Instagram Live session with Woodley, wherein he wrote down “fan questions” in unintelligible handwriting on a piece of paper and answered them while looking vaguely annoyed at Woodley. I am not one for conspiracy theories myself, but almost all of the fan questions were a variation on the theme of, “Can you host Jeopardy! and do football,” and all of the answers were “yes.” He mentioned offhand during the Live that, during taping, “the COVID officer was attached to my hip the whole time making sure my mask was on,” likely because the COVID officer knew that this fuckin’ guy was not vaccinated. Rodgers did not get the job. In my opinion, this was the final straw that turned him away from the concept of science forever. I can’t prove this, but proof is not important to Aaron Rodgers.
Back in August, when reporters asked Rodgers explicitly about his vaccination status, Rodgers replied that he was “immunized”; more recently, it was revealed that Rodgers was referring not to the FDA-approved shot, but to some cockamamie homeopathic treatment he received from his personal doctor to “raise his antibody levels.” Though Rodgers had at first attempted to convince the NFL that his random doctor’s antibody juice was just as good as the vaccine itself, the NFL did something sane for once and denied his request, leaving his official status as “unvaccinated.” This meant Rodgers was subject to specific restrictions — daily testing, mask-wearing, staying away from large gatherings — that he did not consistently abide by; e.g., he went to a Halloween party dressed as a maskless John Wick.
Soon thereafter, Rodgers, ostensibly quarantining at home, staring in disbelief at his hairy hands and wondering how they got that way, took to the Pat McAfee Show in an attempt to defend his wack behavior and incidentally speak aloud every single buzzword on the official alt-right vocabulary list. In perhaps the most self-slaughtering media appearance since Tom Cruise strode atop the yellow couch, Rodgers thanked self-fellating dewormed horse Joe Rogan and Martin Luther King Jr. (??). “Before the final nail gets put in my cancel-culture casket,” he said, wearing a beanie indoors, “I’d like to set the record straight on some of the blatant lies that are out there about me now.” He proudly admitted to taking the anti-vaxx movement’s favorite horse medication ivermectin and described himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” and as a man who was “not some sort of anti-vaxx flat-earther,” but a “critical thinker.”
Warning signs of Rodgers’s anti-vaxx vibes abound on his Instagram, where, as early as April 2020, he was encouraging his followers to “fear less and love more” as he vacationed in the tropics. He also posted that he “missed hugs,” accompanied by the hashtag “#loveoverfear.” In 2017, he posted clear foot-fetish bait: a photo of his foot in front of a lake with the hashtag “#sundaysareforthelake,” indicating an extreme familiarity with subcultures of the internet.
What Do I Believe?
It would appear — based on my investigation, mining a level of depth that proves I am just as bonkers as both of them and have absolutely no ground to stand on — that despite their insistence that they disagree on a lot of things, Rodgers and Woodley actually disagree on very little. Both are proud conspiracy theorists wandering around saying odd things about the concept of time and distrusting western medicine. So what did they “disagree about early on”? Why would Woodley’s publicist the anonymous source add, hilariously, “She is not someone whose mind you can change, so Aaron hasn’t even tried”? What unyielding Woodley belief has Rodgers woefully not even tried to change?
Let’s review their mutual timeline. Woodley and Rodgers started dating openly in February 2021; “Page Six” claims their relationship was possibly incited by their mutual astrologer. This makes sense, as they began their relationship during her aforementioned Saturn return, in what E! News described as a “lowkey” and “long-distance” fashion. Literal days later, Rodgers shared that they were engaged and had gotten engaged in 2020, or maybe in 2041, because time is a construct, much like football. “When we met, I knew he was a football guy,” Woodley told The Tonight Show. “But I didn’t know what kind of a football guy he was, and I’m still constantly learning.” I’m going to reach across the aisle here and admit that this is one of the things we have in common.
In April, the two went to Disney World and filmed a deeply surreal video in which they discussed how well Woodley brushes her teeth, how well Rodgers makes their bed, and their love of the film Avatar, which is a movie about a parallel metaverse. This was the first hint of a glitch in the matrix, portending the rapid reality-bending to come. In May, the two ventured to Hawaii — despite the state begging tourists not to visit due to the pandemic — alongside Miles Teller, whose own positive COVID test shut down production on his Paramount+ series shortly thereafter. Though the Daily Mail reported that Teller had refused to be vaccinated, he recently took to Twitter to tell people, “I don’t usually feel the need to address rumors on here but I am vaccinated and have been for a while. The only thing I’m anti is hate.”
Despite being anti-hate, during the aforementioned Hawaii trip, Teller was punched in the face in a bathroom by two strangers who claimed Teller owed them money. After the fact, Teller’s wife, Keleigh Sperry Teller (please keep up), explained via Instagram Story that the attack was not motivated by cash but was in fact random. The incident might have blown over, but notable “Woodley-Rodgers psycho corkboard with red string character” Pat McAfee had to go and make fun of Teller for being punched in the face by posting a WWE meme; Teller then made fun of McAfee for making fun of him. “I got jumped by two guys in a bathroom. Never met them before in my life but ya cool wrestling segue bud,” he tweeted.
McAfee apologized for making fun of Miles Teller for getting punched in the face. Woodley reposted Sperry Teller’s “criminal investigation” message to her own Instagram Stories in support of her erstwhile co-star Teller, who once described their relationship to THR as “a sibling relationship but with moments of sexual tension.” Save, quite conspicuously, for Rodgers, they were all suddenly in cahoots and then remained in cahoots until this very moment in time, specifically regarding the fact that Teller had never met these men before in his life. But why, and what does this have to do with anything, and am I making this up as I go along? Basically, yes, but stay with me while I try to land this UFO.
It’s a tangled web they weave, the Sperry-Teller-McAfee-Rodgers-Woodleys. But after detangling it and studying the evidence, it’s my belief that the men who punched Miles Teller in the face while on vacation with Shailene Woodley and Aaron Rodgers were sent back in time from the future, à la 12 Monkeys, to save the world. Elon Musk’s future ancestors, all Elon Musk clones, knew that if the information about Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, and Aaron Rodgers’s varying degrees of disregard for public health reached said public, it would actively assist in the very decay of the celebrity industrial complex, by revealing all of the ways in which the pandemic was not real for the rich and famous. This would ultimately collapse capitalism itself — and, notably, all of Aaron Rodgers’s bitcoin endorsement deals.
The plan, therefore, was that these men were going to punch Miles Teller in the face a lot, in a “totally random” way, as a mechanism for distracting people from the truth, which was mere months away from being exposed. Miles Teller & Co. agreed to this, with all involved stressing the randomness of the crime. But ultimately, the universe had other plans, as it often does, and as a result, both celebrity and the concept of a capitalist America are on their way to permanent extinction. This is fine with Shailene Woodley, who will simply return to the trees from which she sprung, but not with Aaron Rodgers, who needs Aflac to keep cutting him checks to support his luxury-watch habit.
What I am telling you is this simple and also this mind-blowing: Early on in their relationship, Woodley and Rogers disagreed on whether or not to extinguish the concept of fame in order for the revolution to truly begin. Not only does this chain of events line up directly with Woodley and Rodgers’s shared value system (Avatar, time and reality being fake, thinking outside of boxes, conspiracy theories as a way of understanding the universe), it answers my original question perfectly. And if any of this sounds implausible to you, it’s likely because you are not a critical thinker who marches to the beat of your own drum.