Sunday, November 27, 2005

Marriage Schmarriage; Down the Aisle to So What

In case you haven't heard the latest news, Kimberly Stewart and Talan Torrie-something are no longer engaged. I know. I know. Chances are you didn't even know they were a couple, and if you did, well you're probably wise enough to know that this latest hook-up wasn't going to last the week. And of course everyone is probably still crying into their hankies about poor Nick and Jessica. And Paris and Paris. And Brad and Jen. Oh, all the fractured, broken unions! Sad isn't, it? Or not.

Now I know there are people out there who think marriage is the cornerstone of our society. That without marriage there is no love, family, or commitment. And of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. But let's be honest -- one would have to be living in a cave to think that marriage in contemporary America is always some honorable, sacred (say what?) institution. In many cases, marriage is treated as an accessory, a fix-all, or a rite of passage entered into as reverently and as blindly as one enters their local Wal-Mart.

As we rot, Joe Simpson is probably trying to ink a deal for his new reality show -- the NewlySplits, George Bush is probably trying to figure out a way to encourage poor, single mothers to marry their abusive baby daddies, and a bunch of bigoted Texas churchgoers are probably congratulating themselves for passing that proposition 2 bullshit.

Sure, celebs often use marriage and engagements as publicity stunts. And why not? It totally works. It gives everyone something to talk about for a few days. And it pays back double since the breaking-up part generates publicity too.
I know some people think it's sad -- that the way celebs treat marriage as disposable defiles the whole institution. . .blah blah blah. But who the fuck are we kidding? More often than not, marriage is a fat sexist, classist, religious bullshit sandwich. At least that's what it's been for most of history. I'd rather see celebs capriciously couple and uncouple than see two dudes arrange for the marriage of their children because it benefits them economically or politically. Talk about gross.

I don't mean to sound like a hater, but all the mainstream hypocrisy around modern marriage really bugs me. Have you seen
Whose Wedding is it Anyway or Bridezilla or A Wedding Story? Or the grosser than gross Wife Swap? You don't need to look much further for evidence of racism, classism, and sexism. And if the thought of these shows doesn't revolt you, check out this site. And while we're on the subject -- psst . .memo to Star Jones: getting married doesn't make you better than everybody else.* In fact, in your case it made you worse.

Now I want to be clear that I'm not anti-marriage, I'm just anti-bullshit, and it seems like there is a lot of bullshit bound up with marriage these days. More and more people I know are deciding not to marry -- even if they're in what they consider to be life-long monogamous relationships -- because they consider marriage a discriminatory institution. And they're not wrong.

Interestingly, gay marriage is one of the areas where conservative "values" and capitalism are at odds. After all,
there is lots of money to be made anytime a couple decides to get married -- it doesn't matter whether they are gay or straight.

I know there are plenty of "happily married" couples out there. Good for them. I want everybody to be happy. Including Talan. In fact, I know that when Talan and Clay finally find each other that they're going to be sooooo happy. And their cover of "Girl U know it's true" will top the charts. And their wedding will make Star and Al's look like a kiddie party. C'mon boyzzz! Bring out the dancing lobsters!!!

*Full disclosure: I'm married. Yeah, I got married this summer. Now I love my honey, but lots of people have said "congratulations" to me like I found the cure for cancer. I mean, I got married, so what?** I certainly don't consider it an accomplishment. And I certainly don't think I'm entitled to any benefits just because I'm married. I mean, that would be totally whack. (I did, however, really like eating all that cake).

**ADDED FOR CLARIFICATION: This doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the warm wishes or that I didn't enjoy celebrating something happy with my friends. I just mean that getting married isn't an achievement. That's all. If anyone reading this said congratulations to me, please know that it made me happy. I didn't mean to get all ranty there.


Bree said...

dude, I am so sad about the Nick and Jessica break up. My view of love is shattered. You think I am joking, but I am not... I believed in them. I know i shouldn't have but dam it! I did!

Penultimatina said...

Sheesh, glad I'm not the only one who is utterly sick of the bs. Thanksgiving had me spending way too much time waiting in lines, looking at Nick and Jessica.

I was 100% satisfied with my $10 wedding in the ballroom of the Chicago Cultural Center (a nice alternative to the musty courthouse basement).

Donny B said...

Have you read any Camille Paglia? She has some interesting ideas about marriage...sort of a reverse-sexist approach. Even though marriage has been used by men to trade women like property, Paglia basically says it's men who lose. Since women rule the household (no matter how domineering the man is, it's really where the woman dominates), men have a very short window of freedom between being under the control of their mothers to being under the control of their wives. Obviously there are exceptions (abusive husbands, etc.), but it's still an interesting perspective.

Crystal said...

Marriage rocks, but I agree that the whole wedding thing is very commercialized, not that that's a bad thing. I loved the part of your post about celebrities milking the whole hook-up/break-up thingy, and I had that same theory too, it's an attention-grabbing mechanism. Jessica totally has that relationship to thank for all her fame, she would still be a 2 bit B-lister had it not been for Newlyweds and then all the tabloid fodder regarding the state of her relationship.

femme feral said...

I think the whole gay marriage debate has really angered me; I just don't understand why anyone would give a shit re: how two consenting adults want to define their relationship. Ultimately, I guess my problems with "marriage" are of a semantic and political nature. I'm all for love and respect and commitment and all that yummy stuff -- of course I am! I just think the institution is problematic.

the sad billionaire thinks the new hollywood engagement fad is simple code for monogamy -- like Mischa and Cisco get engaged simply to declare that they are only sleeping with each other.

What I find fascinating about hollywood's version of coupledom is that it's totally chaotic and chameleon and crazy. That, juxtaposed with the conservative push to limit who can and can't "get married" seems to say something pretty interesting about our culture.

As far as Camille Paglia goes, I agree with you DB that she is interesting, but I think of her argument as more of a polemic -- something to spark debate. At times, though, I think she comes off as a little out of touch. But she's smart.