Thursday, March 18, 2010
Love's Young Dream - NOT!
Is there a person alive who doesn’t know enough about the egocentric nature of celebrity to realize that it is completely contrary to the idea of marriage. Or more to the point, do we really understand what marriage is any more. Marriage – real, working, stick-it-out marriage has become, like the realities of childbirth, a dark secret nobody ever tells you about until it’s too late. Like meeting “The Perfect One” and pain-free natural childbirth, and working women who successfully “juggle their lives”– Happily Ever After is a fantasy we invented, that has backfired and serves only to make our lives more complicated and difficult than they already are.
While our grandparents groaned and got-on-with-it, taking the whole in-sickness and health thing to heart and staying together for lifetimes - what we have now is a culture where marriage is presented as the perfect ending to the perfect love story. The ultimate expression of love. You love somebody so much that you feel like you want to spend the rest of your life with them. And so you tie yourselves in with a ten grand day out and a legal contract and sit back to enjoy the endless-hot-date you have been promised. Like heaven – marriage is love that lasts forever. When the love goes, or you get bored or fed up – you end the marriage. Unless, of course, your husband is a really good looking footballer, in which case you might let them disrespect you with some topless dolly one more time. Because you love them. And that’s what marriage is all about isn’t it? Being in love.
Except of course, it isn’t. Actually, for most normal human beings, (the honest ones because loads of people lie about being madly in love because there is such pressure, even on oneself, to keep the dream of romantic love alive), marriage is the challenge of living with somebody after the love has gone. The sacrifice of oneself for the betterment and happiness of the other person even – especially – when you don’t feel like it. Marital love is the grown up stuff that happens when the feeling of love has faded and you have to be nice anyway so that the actual love – the results of the hard stuff like dealing with their ghastly relatives, tolerating their annoying little habits, biting your tongue when she gains three stone after the baby, eating the meal he cooked even when the meat was slightly underdone so as not to hurt his feelings, the not putting him down in front of the kids, or laughing cruelly at her attempts to look fashionable after forty – has the chance to grow and settle.
Marriage is hard work, and it takes time and commitment. Seemingly, being a celebrity is bloody hard work too. I mean, more work than the rest of us can ever know in that weird, unsettling way that young people now seem to aspire to. Two hours in hair and make-up for Cheryl, hours of training for Ashley – just enough recreation time to be photographed coming out of Nobu, or throwing a few shapes around China-White or a five minutes sofa-lounge with a lapdancer in Stringfellows. What about scrounging a couple of hours on a Saturday to watch the match at the pub, or trying to escape off with your girlfriends shopping for an afternoon because you’ve spent all week gawking at the telly in parallel partner mode and you’re sick of the sight of each other. Celebrities don’t have the luxury, or irritation of living on top of one another because they are too busy being celebrities.
Ashley Cole and his sleazy friend Terry ?????? are young men who are idolized and paid an enormous amounts of money for playing football. Cheryl has lovely hair and can sing and dance, and for this she has to spend a third of her working day getting all dolled up, and is held up as a role model for millions of young girls.
Our young men want to be rich footballers and our young women want to be married to them. Forever and ever – one long hot date for the rest of our lives. Does anyone else see the flaw in this picture?
What are we are telling kids about marriage and how to choose their life partners. Wait until you fall hopelessly, madly in love then get married and live happily ever after. Marriage is, after all, the reward for meeting Mr. Right. Once you’ve met a man who you are stone mad crazy about, then everything will fall into place. Surely, with all these famous Alpha men sowing their seed left right and centre, Beckam, Clinton, Woods – causing pain, and chaos and leaving their loyal, long-suffering wives reeling and gritting their teeth, we should be guiding our daughters towards settling for a nice ordinary lad with a decent job, even if he is a bit dull. But no. What we want, what we all want, is the man with an ego and a following the size of Wembley Stadium who, by some freakish turn of nature, will be satisfied with a kiss and a cuddle and a pizza in front of Emmerdale with the same woman for the rest of his life. Not going to happen. Is there any evidence, anywhere, that this man exists?
There is also the element of wanting what we want when we want it. Instant gratification. Cheryl seems like a lovely girl who, coming from a difficult background, doubtless craved the security of marriage. Society let her down by selling her the fib that marriage equals security, safety. Uh, oh.
Marriage offers more security to the faithless liar than the innocent trier. She is torn, because of that bit of paper, that fast, fecklessly made bit of legalize means that despite having been humiliated by a spoiled teenage boy, she can’t just walk away. She has to follow due procedure. He gets to beg her to stay, and to get the public to row in and persuade her to give him “one more chance”.
Of course, it’s nonsense. Men don’t filth about at that level by unhappy accident. Mucky men are mucky men. They don’t make good husbands. Ever. End of story.
While entertainers are generally weird, flawed, egocentric, often insecure people, the effect of celebrity on a young, impressionable male has to be ruinous.
When Ashley was caught out the first time, Cheryl’s mother in law moved in to their house. Part of his defense now is that the MIL moving in put a dampener on his and Cheryl’s thrilling sex life. Sorry son, if at your age and stage of fitness you can’t get it on in an enormous mock-tudor hacienda with your mother-in-law under the same roof – you’re problems are only just beginning. By the same token Cheryl did you honestly think a football hero was going to tolerate you persuing a career as an international popstar. Did nobody tell you the deal; when you marry a first division footballer, you put your life on hold and dedicate yourself entirely to them in the hope that they might possibly remain loyal and faithful to you – or at least, not disrespect you too publically.
And yet, at heart, our public interest in train wreck celebrity marriages surely just reflects our own broken hopes and dreams. We still want the fairy-tale. We want to believe in loyalty, and respect, and trust and true love lasting forever and marriage being one hot steamy date. But wanting something, as Cheryl and Ashley Cole have discovered recently, isn’t always enough.