Wed, Nov 9, 2011 10:44 AM
Televised weddings tend not to lead to successful marriages.
It's a stunning observation, I know, but I just thought I'd throw
it out there in case some of you readers are about to get hitched
and are wondering how you might boost your odds of marital success:
don't let anyone turn your nuptials into a TV special. It didn't
work out for Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, Prince Charles,
Prince Andrew, or Carmen Electra.
The latest TV marriage not to work out - or work at all,
apparently, even for a few minutes - is Kim Kardashian's. On Aug.
20, Kardashian married Kris Humphries of the New Jersey Nets
(presumably because he's the only active NBA player who spells
"Chris" with a "K"), consecrating their love and making a killing
all at once. Not only did the lavish ceremony come free for the
couple; they actually made money off it - nearly $18 million,
mostly from E! Entertainment, which, from Oct. 9 (when Part I of
"Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event" initially aired) to
Oct. 15, ran 32 hours of Kardashian wedding coverage.
Then, on Halloween, Kim filed for divorce after just 72 days of
matrimony. People are furious about this - not, I believe, furious
that she filed for divorce (is there anyone, anywhere, who didn't
think this marriage would end in shreds?) but furious that she
filed for divorce so soon. People feel gypped, ripped off: was the
whole wedding a money-making scam; a charade? Had they no intention
from the beginning of staying together?
My feeling - and I know very little about Kim Kardashian - is that
the line between sham and not-sham is finer than most people seem
to believe. People do a lot of things for money, but usually there
are other, accompanying reasons that seem just as important at the
If Kim Kardashian were as calculating as her detractors claim, why
didn't she - rather than separating from Humphries immediately -
film at least a season of married life for "Keeping Up with the
Kardashians" and then build up to the divorce-decision as a
heart-stopping dramatic climax?
A popular Internet meme right now is a picture of Kim in her
wedding dress with the following caption: "Kim Kardashian made 17
million dollars, divorced 72 days later, and they're worried about
gays ruining the sanctity of marriage?" I'm on the same side as the
people who are posting this image, but their argument, which I've
seen many times in slightly different forms, strikes me as silly,
since, after all, the opponents of gay marriage probably are
anti-Kardashian as well and disapprove of her quickie divorce:
you'll never change their politics by telling them that marriage
already has been degraded and lost its meaning and that,
consequently, they might as well let anybody marry anybody.
It's the wrong message, and I suspect it can only convince them to
protect more fiercely whatever remnants of holiness they still
perceive matrimony as possessing.
In my view, anyone who allows himself to become morally outraged by
ridiculous Hollywood weddings is playing into the hands of
conservatives by endorsing the idea that marriage, once sacred, has
been disgraced in modern times. My opinion is that we ought to let
other people approach marriage however they want to - traditionally
or unconventionally, materialistically or spiritually, thoughtfully
or carelessly. Let it mean to them what it means to them.
Out in the world, real people - not just money-grubbing celebrities
- are getting divorced all the time, yet Hollywood continues to
draw ire for its failed marriages, and I wonder whether this
doesn't have something to do with the apparent immunity from
consequences that famous people seem to enjoy following screw-ups
that, for most of us, would probably destroy our lives for at least
a few years.
Celebrities get addicted to drugs, but then they go on vacation to
some sumptuous rehab clinic/spa/resort, and weeks later, appear at
the Academy Awards looking better than we've ever looked in our
lives. They blithely enter marriage and get divorced, but instead
of, say, drowning in heartbreak and financial problems for a while,
they instantly begin dating someone even more attractive and
successful than their former spouse.
You have to approach life with a certain courageous frivolity in
order to get married eight times, like Elizabeth Taylor did. I, for
example, can't imagine marrying the same person twice (or divorcing
that same person twice), simply because it would be so embarrassing
- I'd look so fickle, so featherbrained - but Taylor, of course,
did it with Richard Burton and then wedded two other guys
It is, perhaps, for this reason - they possess an impetuous
vivacity that totally trumps shame - that celebrities are
celebrities, and we are not. Kim Kardashian, who has no discernable
talent, is famous partly because of her well-connected Hollywood
family, but mostly because of a leaked sex tape she made with the
R&B singer Ray J; if she were more prudent, none of us would
know who she is. If she were more timidly tasteful, all she'd have
right now is a divorce, instead of a divorce and $18 million - or
$9 million, if Humphries gets half. (He may be the only NBA player
who's made more money during the lockout than he did on the
Mickey Rooney - who, like Taylor, married eight times - was once
asked whether, if he could redo his life, he'd still marry all
those women. He replied, "Absolutely. I loved every one of them."
Like every other young person, I hope never to get divorced, yet I
envy him. Why can't life be such an adventure for all of us?
A couple months before before Kardashian's TV special, TLC
broadcasted Nick Lachey's wedding to Vanessa Minnillo. No divorce
yet, but maybe you'll remember that this is actually the second
time that Lachey has publically aired his nuptials; the last time,
he married Jessica Simpson on MTV. Isn't he embarrassed to be doing
the same thing again? Isn't it tacky?
Well, who cares?