On the flight to London I read a book. (Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Brilliant graphic memoir. Thanks, D.) And on the flight home, I watched three romantic comedies.
Yes, three: Leap Year (really dumb plot but Amy Adams is appealing and Matthew Goode may be today’s vote for sexiest English-speaking male), Valentine’s Day (unwatchably and incomprehensibly dumb, but Ashton Kutcher is cute at playing himself) and…wait for it…Bride Wars.
S watched the first two with me and reluctantly began watching the third–I tried challenging her to finish it, but the only prize I could muster was my miniature packet of off-brand cheese crackers from the American Airlines snack box and it turned out she hadn’t eaten hers either. She made it through about fifteen minutes before switching to the last half of an Entourage episode.
“I think I might need to write about this,” I leaned over and whispered to her as she changed channels while I kept watching.
“Sure,” she said, too tired–and too old a friend–to mask her skepticism.
I mean, it did occur to me that I might have to comment on the film–especially after the early scene when Candice Bergen’s character (the wedding planner) informs those played by Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson (best friends getting married on the same day, vying for the same location etc.) that their lives will not actually begin until their wedding day. “You are dead, right now,” she says. Yikes.
But, also, I kinda wanted to watch.
The movie is nominally a paean to the preeminence of female friendship: not only are the fiancees minor characters in the movie, neither is really that attractive. (Which, as I said to S, is not an altogether unrealistic representation of reality: beautiful women, as we know, often marry un-beautiful men.)
It’s a (ridiculously, horribly done) slapstick comedy that would seem to parody how seriously many women take their weddings. But seriously: it stars Kate Hudson. It isn’t exactly satire.
So in the end it does more to reinforce gendered and negative stereotypes about pre-wedding hysteria than spoof them. The premise, after all, is two women who have spent their entire lives fantasizing about every detail of the day they’ll wed: where it will happen, in what dress, to what music, etc. (To whom never seems of all that much importance.)
It may come as a bit of a shock that this is not something I can relate to.
While S and I were in London, we walked down an upscale street that seemed to feature one bridal boutique after another. As we compared the sequined gowns, I asked her if she’d given any thought to what sort of dress she might want to wear to her own wedding.
Not surprisingly, her answer–like mine–was “not much.”
The only notion I’ve cooked up about my wedding is that I don’t want to have it in a city, and that outdoors would be nice.
It’s not that I don’t daydream about being married, or occasionally envision standing with clutched hands and tear-verged expressions beside an altar and some object of present interest. But it’s the whole marriage thing I’m most looking forward to, not the ceremony.
For the most part. I may not have a detailed plan or even many vague ideas about a wedding, but I do know that I want one. There aren’t many times in life when you get to demand that everyone you love be together in the same room, which pretty much sounds like the best thing ever.
But I don’t just want a party. I want to walk down an aisle with Mendelssohn playing and I want my Dad next to me and I want to wear white. I don’t know why I’m attached to these conventions. I probably could be talked out of them. But they’re there.
They aren’t nearly so elaborate as those in the movie. But they do seem to reflect some cultural indoctrination that I feel like I ought to resist, for the sake of, well, something…feminism, or subversion, or originality.
But then again, weddings are also one of few occasions when you’re allowed to do things just for yourself. And–oh yeah–the person you’re marrying.