On October 21 2021, a virally popular Facebook post by the page “NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP!!!” attributed to Pierce Brosnan a saccharine, condescending commentary about his wife Keely Shay Smith, who was apparently unworthy of being named in the post:
The first photo is of actor Pierce Brosnan and his wife twenty years ago, at the start of their marriage. The second photo is them today. When fools pointed out to him that she had put on weight he simply replied: ′She is in my eyes the most beautiful woman in the world, she raised my 5 children with love. In the past, I already loved her for her personality and not just for her beauty. Now I love her even more. I am very proud of her, and I always try to be worthy of her love.’
This is what it is to marry a man who loves you as you are.
Two images of Brosnan and Smith were added to the post:
However, no source for the purported commentary was included. As of November 2 2021, the post had been shared more than 170,000 times — presumably as “uplifting” or “heartwarming” content.
Finding the Pierce Brosnan’s ‘She Is in My Eyes the Most Beautiful Woman in the World’ Quote
Given the Facebook response to the purported commentary by Brosnan in response to “fools” who apparently had pointed out to him that his wife had “put on weight,” it stood to reason any actual source material (such as an interview) would have received a similar response.
Moreover, Brosnan and Smith married in August 2001. A described window of “twenty years” since “the start of their marriage” dated the commentary to 2021 (give or take a year), and the purported remarks would have been recent at the time the post circulated.
But a Google search (not date restricted) for “Pierce Brosnan” and a tiny snippet of the quote (“She is in my eyes the most beautiful woman in the world”) returned a scant fifteen total results — almost entirely October 2021 posts to Reddit or Facebook:
A short snippet search for Brosnan’s name and “Now I love her even more” similarly yielded nothing. Of the first search’s results, the first was an October 28 2021 Reddit post on r/MadeMeSmile, which was almost certainly triggered by the variation circulating on Facebook; it too cited no source:
Incidentally, one of the results was a May 2021 r/MadeMeSmile post titled “Pierce Brosnan and Wife. Looks go, love remains.” That post was popular, but did not attribute any quotes to Brosnan:
We were unable to find any mention of any version of that quote prior to a September 30 2021 post on the site NewsBeezer.com, crassly titled “Pierce Brosnan posted a hot picture of his 58-year-old wife: a fan of Keely’s rounded shapes.” The quoted material bore a passing resemblance to the commentary:
Although she had received a lot of negative criticism, neither she nor her husband bothered with the matter; in fact, Brosnan is passionate about his wife’s full-bodied looks. Not by the way, his personality always caught him best.
“I fell in love with her because of her passion, not just her beauty, but now I love her even more because she is the mother of my children and I am very proud of her. I always try to be worthy of his love,” said the actor to the Hollywood star.
That excerpt was lifted verbatim from a Hungarian news article; the same typographical errors appeared when Google automatically translated the item. Also published on September 30 2021, it claimed:
Even after all these years, they are still there for each other, otherwise they could have celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary this year. Unfortunately, in the 2000s, the tabloid press landed on Keely, and plenty of hurtful articles were made about her just because after she gave birth to their common children, Dylant and Paris, she didn’t regain her prenatal shape, instead raising her little ones first. Although she had received a lot of negative criticism, neither she nor her husband were preoccupied with the thing, in fact, Brosnan is passionate about his wife’s full-bodied looks. By the way, his personality has always caught him the best.
“I fell in love with her for her passion, not just for her beauty, but now I love her even more because she is the mother of my children and I am very proud of her. I always strive to be worthy of his love, ”the actor told the Hollywood Star.
That led to a September 29 2021 Yahoo article, “Pierce Brosnan pens open love letter to wife of 20 years: ‘My beautiful, luscious love.'” No elements of the viral quote appeared in the piece — which largely reported on public Instagram posts — but at the end, it read:
Brosnan has previously revealed that one of the secrets to the couple’s happy marriage is spending quality time together.
“My wife and I took a short road trip up to Santa Barbara — we were going for a romantic weekend and to look at houses and drink great wine,” Brosnan told PEOPLE.
“We didn’t listen to any music, but we just listened to the sounds of each other’s voices and sorted out the world.”
The Mama Mia star also previously revealed some of the attributes he appreciates in his wife.
“I love her vitality, her passion,” Brosnan told the Independent. “She has this strength that I wouldn’t be able to live without. When Keely looks at me, I go weak.”
Total #couplegoals or what?
Mentions of “the Independent” appeared to pertain to a 2014 article on Independent.ie, “Pierce Brosnan still ‘goes weak’ at seeing wife of 13 years Keely Shaye Smith.” Ultimately, it appeared that the “Pierce Brosnan” quote originated with a September 26 2021 Instagram post by the actor, on the occasion of their wedding anniversary.
What Brosnan actually wrote was this:
My beautiful luscious love Keely on her 58th trip around the sun yesterday …apres swim, making coconut water.????❤️????❤️???? Happiest of birthdays it was! ????????????
Engagement Bait and Glurge
The original post’s level of engagement on Facebook — the number of users who interacted with the apparently entirely fabricated quote — demonstrated why those managing pages on the social media site often drum up or falsify commentary and attribute it to people like Pierce Brosnan.
Glurge is the catch-all term for “inspirational” tales which purport to offer uplifting and timeless truths but for various reasons — they carry Unfortunate Implications, they don’t make sense once you’ve thought about them, or the medium is a poor fit for the message — are just a bit too hard to swallow …
These stories are presented as modern-day parables, meant to touch hearts and change minds. Unfortunately, they do so by simplifying their message to the point of complete uselessness to any reader who thinks about it seriously. All shades of nuance between good and evil are wholly overlooked in the rush to present a universe in which everything happens for a satisfying reason, meaning that valuable lessons about hard work, understanding, personal growth and sacrifice are left by the wayside.
You Know Who Said That?: A character makes a statement and then tells us that those words came from a particular historical figure. Such quotes are often mined, misattributed, or taken out of context (sometimes deliberately). The reader is meant to immediately accept or reject the words based on who said them, which is just sloppy — many admirable persons have said unfortunate things; many wretches have been right once or twice.
In the early days of internet content, “glurge” was identified because its emotional effects drove its spread, typically via email forwarding. With the advent of social media, glurge became part of a larger category known as “engagement bait.”
A Facebook Help Center page identified engagement bait as follows:
Engagement bait is a tactic that urges people to interact with Facebook posts through likes, shares, comments, and other actions in order to artificially boost engagement and get greater reach. Posts and Pages that use this tactic will be demoted.
Other Reasons the Fake Pierce Brosnan Quote is Bad and Shouldn’t Be Shared
A cursory review suggested that Pierce Brosnan never made the sappy, tacitly insulting comments about Smith (in a post that, again, didn’t even bother to reference her by name), and the post itself was a well-known, yet still effective play on readers’ emotions and possibly negative feelings about their own bodies.
Yet even as a fictionalized narrative, the commentary simply wasn’t useful, romantic, or complimentary. The post brought to mind a 2017 controversy summarized in a 2019 AV Club retrospective of the 2010s on the internet, regarding an Instagram user named Robbie Tripp and a post about his wife’s body:
39. The “Curvy Wife Guy” celebrates body positivity in the worst possible way
At the nexus of overly enthusiastic “girlfriend guy,” body positivity, and oversharing lies Robbie Tripp—the dude who so eagerly, obnoxiously, and creepily celebrated his wife’s “curvy body” on Instagram that he became infamous for doing so. Tripp was extensively ridiculed for his decision to post a normal couples photo of himself and his wife along with a paragraph praising her features in excessive detail along with some self-pitying background about how, “as a teenager” he was “teased by my friends for my attraction to girls on the thicker side”—the kind of “girls that the average (basic) bro might refer to as ‘chubby’ or even ‘fat.’” Tripp’s tragic backstory does not compare to whatever his wife must’ve felt when everyone on the internet read her husband’s post.
One of the first critical responses, from New York magazine’s Intelligencer (“Some People Are Applauding This Man for Celebrating His Wife’s Curves, But Most People Are Dragging Him”) in August 2017, explained:
The woke husband/dummy in question was Robbie Tripp, who describes himself in his Instagram bio as “TEDx Speaker Husband to a curvy goddess.” In case you didn’t catch that he’s husband to a curvy goddess, you might check out the caption of one of his latest Instagram posts, featuring a photo of Tripp and said “curvy” wife on a beach. The “curvy” wife has a name — it’s Sarah — but to find that you’ve got to scroll through to the end of a lengthy paragraph about Tripp’s struggles with being “teased” for being into to “girls on the thicker side, ones who were shorter and curvier, girls that the average (basic) bro might refer to as ‘chubby’ or even ‘fat.’” Brave stuff.
A 2017 Medium piece (“Thanks, woke Insta-bro”) examined Tripp’s viral essay thoroughly, emphasizing its unpleasant undertones:
“For me, there is nothing sexier than this woman right here: thick thighs, big booty, cute little side roll, etc. Her shape and size won’t be the one featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan but it’s the one featured in my life and in my heart.”
Translation: Fat ladies, give up on size acceptance in the media, or a diverse portrayal of body types. You’ll never make it to a Cosmo cover — which is unfortunate, really, becasue that’s all you should really be striving for, anyway, because you only exist to be the receptacles of others’ opinions.
Lucky for you, there are #goodguys like me around, who will deign to take you, even though we will be admitting to ourselves and the world that we like fat women. There is no greater shame. Heaven forbid we get teased by basic bros … Remember, ladies, the only thing that matters at the end of the day is how a man sees you. Be ready at all times for that legendary man, that prince of fat women everywhere, to come swooping in to claim you as his own.
A second 2019 editorial about Tripp’s foray into music videos concluded that Tripp leveraged the sensitive topic of body image to generate angry clicks:
The Curvy Wife Guy is not just a meme, nor is he a traditional chubby chaser. [Tripp] is an influencer-grifter who managed to monetize the tried-and-true “negging” scheme off of his wife’s slightly-broader-than-average backside.
In “Chubby Sexy,” Tripp capitalizes on his wife’s “thickness” while using a poor approximation of African-American Vernacular English to deliver heavy-handed fat jokes. As many other columnists have pointed out, Sarah Tripp is a barely plus-sized, blonde, cisgender white woman who is by no stretch of the imagination far outside the confines of Western beauty standards. But in her husband’s telling, she’s fat enough to be compared to massive structures both fictional and actual.
A long-form 2019 Vox profile of the Tripps devoted two days to revisiting the controversy (also in response to Tripp’s music video), describing how its content affected Sarah Tripp:
The backlash was such that outlets who had fawned over the Curvy Wife Guy only a few days prior were now joining the chorus of mocking him. There were a few common threads: that yes, the bar for men was much too low, that Robbie was objectifying or fetishizing (or negging!) his wife, and that a slender, straight, cis white man should stay out of the whole body positivity discussion altogether.
You are likely not, however, aware of the bad things that happened to Sarah Tripp when her husband became a meme: While the hate from the legions of so-called “Twitter feminists” and the more private criticisms Robbie has said they received from certain Mormon circles (Robbie and Sarah are Mormon but do not discuss their faith on their platforms and say they don’t engage with the cultural aspect of the religion) seemed to have bolstered Robbie, it was harder for Sarah. Her anxiety, which she already struggled with, got worse. “It makes me scared to do things now in my career because of backlash and because how people treat us,” she says.
They also lost friends. After the viral post, a group of people from Robbie’s high school, where he was a basketball star, created a Facebook thread devoted to depicting Robbie as a horrible bully, and tagged news outlets. Sarah, too, had a bridesmaid in her wedding stop speaking to her.
And, like many people who suddenly become very, very famous, they got Milkshake Ducked. Internet users discovered past racist and transphobic tweets from both Sarah and Robbie’s accounts, for which they apologized, and they both reiterated to me that they’ve learned from it.
A large number of Facebook users saw and shared a post claiming that Pierce Brosnan said of wife Keely Shaye Smith that he “loved her for her personality and not just for her beauty” — effectively suggesting Brosnan stated he loved his wife in spite of her (apparently unforgivable) size. That commentary appeared to either almost entirely or entirely fabricated, unfairly using the couple ss a canvas upon which to project the idea that men in relationships with “curvy” or plus-sized women are doing their partners a massive favor. If those aspects were not enough to discourage sharing of the phony quote, its status as glurge and engagement bait are separate and good reasons not to interact with or share it. Finally, the post itself might function as a tracker in order to identify people who are vulnerable to specific disinformation campaigns.
At any rate, Pierce Brosnan has said a number of lovely, romantic things about Keely Shaye Smith in interviews, and none of those things were as ham-fisted and insulting as the viral post suggested.