Thursday, April 07, 2005

Jumping on the bandwagon, as usual

I have now read two commentaries, both unsurprisingly written by women, asserting that it's not so terrible that Prince Charles is marrying Camilla Parker-Bowles. Ellen Goodman wrote about this in the Globe last week, and today's Slate has a similar piece by June Thomas. To turn this into a trend, I will add my view on the subject: I find it rather sweet and charming that Charles wants to marry Camilla. It's obvious that he's not marrying her because she's some half-his-age hottie who will make him feel young again (although, to me, much younger trophy wives usually just emphasize how old and wrinkly the male partner is, but I'm not really the sort of person these guys are trying to impress). Clearly, he is marrying her because he loves her, finds her a suitable companion -- and, apparently, because they have great sex.

Of course, as an American, I have no stake in the royal family, and therefore don't much care whether Charles is upholding the royal family's dignity and honor. But frankly, things couldn't go much worse than that first, officially-sanctioned marriage, could they? And as the first marriage came about through a pretty offensive, sexist idea -- that the only appropriate mate for a prince is a nubile virgin -- what's wrong with Charles trying out the new-fangled concept of marrying for love? I think much of the public disapproval stems from another unpleasantly sexist idea: that no man in his right mind would marry a middle-aged woman (admittedly, not a terribly attractive one) if he had the choice. As a woman who fully intends to be middle-aged one day (since, as I understand modern science, we have yet to find any alternative to middle age other than death), I am all for ending this sad idea. So I'm sending my best wishes to the happy couple.

I think the people who are getting riled or upset by this marriage are holding onto ideals that are no longer realistic in this day and age. It's like people who demand that their professional sports players stay, well, professional in attitude whilst pushing their bodies to extremes that would cripple a normal person, then get upset with them when they display some human side or emotion. Holding people to standards that you can't keep yourself so you can live vicariously through them will only work if you don't know that much about your chosen target and can then fill in the gaps with imagined good stuff. In today's world of ever-invasive tabloid journalism and a supposed demand to know anything and everything scandalous, or even just anything and everything generally, about everyone in the public eye, why are people surprised when celebrities turn out to be people too?
I fully believe that the royal family has been full of incidents like this over the years and centuries - trophy wives, marrying for position and power rather than love, mistresses/masters(?) on the side, children from 'the other side of the sheets', but because the general public wasn't aware of these things then the royals were able to keep some sense of propriety going. Now they're being honest and open about what's happening, whether through choice or not, and people are outraged because they feel that there's something to be outraged about, compared to not knowing anything before and assuming everything was ideal.
And apparently there's no truth in the rumour that Camilla has turned down the Queen's offer of a honeymoon trip to Paris, complete with car and driver.
Yes, that's a good point about past royals probably not being as pure as we want to imagine. They would have had a much easier time hiding their indiscretions.
I don't think it's limited to royals. Anybody who idolizes anybody is setting themselves up for a fall, or disappointment, or anger, when they find out something distasteful about their hero. Which they will do in this information age.
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