By Kat Giantis
The goodwill that the likeable starlet, 30, has long enjoyed (except maybe for that mom jeans moment) seemed to take a nasty turn at the news that Johnson, her boyfriend of five-plus months, had slipped a non-traditional-looking gold, ruby and diamond engagement ring on her finger.
Amid a smattering of well-wishes, the online masses found a lot to gripe about over her betrothal. Chief among the complaints: That the question-popping announcement came off as -- and we're paraphrasing here -- a "desperate," "pathetic" and "tacky" case of face-saving "one-upmanship," falling as it did just days after Simpson's ex-husband, Nick Lachey, proposed to Vanessa Minnillo, his girlfriend of four years.
Other factors contributing to the wave of disapproval and predictions of romantic doom included the swiftness of their engagement; the fact that Johnson finalized his divorce just last month; and that his career has been in limbo since his post-Yale stint with the NFL (he reportedly bailed on pursuing his MBA at the Wharton School of Business when he hooked up with Jessica in May).
One commenter has even coined the phrase "pulling a Jessica," which apparently means dropping hints to your boyfriend that it's time to make a commitment, for better or worse.
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Our take? We've always liked Simpson and wish her nothing but happiness. Are we worried that she's rushing into things with Johnson? Sure, but love doesn't necessarily follow a timeline. Plenty of couples have sprinted to the altar and enjoyed a happily-ever-after (and plenty of others haven't -- we're looking at you, Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney).
Either way, we strongly urge Jessica to get a prenup.
Also, the timing is definitely ... awkward. Would it have been better from a PR standpoint for them to keep the betrothal hush-hush for a few months to get some distance from Nick and Vanessa? Almost certainly.
Simpson and Johnson's engagement is now irrevocably tied to Lachey and Minnillo's, with the dueling nuptials sure to fuel a tabloid competition: Who has the better ring? Whose dress is more elaborate? Who will star in "Newlyweds 2.0"? Who will get knocked up first (by the by, we expect the shotgun-wedding rumors to start any second now for Jess and Eric)? It's not an ideal situation for either duo.
The proposal also comes amid talk that Jessica was "deeply saddened" by Nick's engagement (she insists that she couldn't be happier for her ex, whom she split with in 2005), and that she'd taken a potshot at Minnillo during a recent run-in at a Los Angeles restaurant, supposedly sniping, "I hope Vanessa likes her clothes because I bought them for her, since Nick took all my money."
Still, Simpson has made it clear (as is her public-gushing custom) that Johnson is everything she could want and more.
"This is just normal, thank God. He's very, very supportive," Simpson enthused to People mag last month of her "hottie" squeeze. "[I] couldn't ask for a better man in my life right now."
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Speaking of men in her life, we can't forget to mention her dad, Joe, who reportedly never warmed up to Lachey, causing tension in the MTV-chronicled marriage.
He quickly tweeted his best wishes, kvelling that he's "so very happy for Jess and Eric. May they have a lifetime of joy and happiness." No word on whether that also includes giving them some space.
In what we consider a troubling sign, Papa Joe tagged along back in July when Jess celebrated her 30th birthday with Johnson on a yacht in Capri. Paparazzi snapped him standing just a few uncomfortable feet away as his little girl smooched and straddled her beau.
What do you think of Jessica's engagement? Is the backlash unfair? Tell us in the comments.