Andrew (perspectivism) wrote,

wedding porn

As of this moment, the #1 story in the weblogging world is this brilliant deconstruction of TV's shiny new romance novel aesthetic:

The wedding porn genre applies the Madonna-Whore complex to men: If he's sultry and charismatic, he's dangerous, not a man you'd want to marry. But if he's soft and harmless and borderline-laughable? Yes! Tag that wildebeest and track him until he's lost his will to run, and his will to live, and is therefore ready to be propped up at assorted couples' brunches and holiday dinners, presented to the world as the slightly deadened but hopelessly devoted provider.

It's not hard to see why our hopelessly neurotic heroines dream of sitting in the sun like a ficus all day long: They long for a final escape from their own self-defeating, circular thoughts. Driven by ego and self-doubt, they share an unquenchable desire to be "chosen," once and for all. They imagine a glassy post-wedding reality in which all naysaying voices and stabs of rejection or defeat are erased from the picture, replaced by glazed-over, hazy warmth from the unconditional love of Mr. Nice & Safe.

While in wedding porn the bossy, self-involved girl always finds true love, in reality -- or at least on reality shows -- the truth is a little harder to swallow. With the average age of the bride increasing from 20 in 1964 to 27 according to the latest estimates, women have many more years to escape into the fantasy of being chosen, all the while becoming more neurotic and inflexible in ways that seem to lessen the possibility of fostering the kind of openness that's necessary for falling in love -- falling in love not with a gallant poster boy, but with a real human being. Our uptight, scattered heroine can stomp her feet cutely until someone spineless enough to cater to her every whim wanders up, but in the real world, it takes an ability to drop any preconceptions of "the dream guy" and follow your feelings, not your thoughts, to a person who makes you happy. A lasting relationship isn't indicated merely by the fact that he opens doors and brings home the bacon and accepts an endless stream of demands without complaint. Real love grows from two people accepting each other beyond the confinement of outdated roles and societal notions of what constitutes a desirable mate.

Plenty of women want to get married, and the contestants' ability to state that goal so directly is actually what makes them appealing; in the end they're following their dreams unself-consciously. But "The Bachelor" and the wedding porn genre reflect our culture's tendency to romanticize a courting process that exists in some vapory realm of boudoir tricks, dance cards and expensive rings. When falling in love is painted in such fantastical colors, you can expect marriages that reflect the same limitations -- roles that crush our ability to be honest, that keep us from presenting our true, original, flawed selves to each other, and ultimately, that rob us of our own desire. ("One Ring To Rule Them All")
Whom to thank for this brilliant invective? None other than Heather Havrilesky -- who created the cartoon Filler. She's a regular contributor to NPR's "All Things Considered," maintains the rabbit blog and is writing a novel.
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