Tuesday, November 1, 2011

American Royalty: Aristocracy, Extravagance and a Negative Economy

After 72 days Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries have called their marriage quits. News of the pending divorce erupted on Twitter, Facebook and across the blogosphere. Ryan Seacrest confirmed the break-up as did Kim-K herself. Ironically, the divorce announcement came at the end of the same month that E!'s Kim Kardashian wedding special aired and before the premiere of Kim and Kourtney take New York where Kris Humphries is prominently displayed in the promo.

The Kim Kardashian Kris Humphries union was billed as Kim's Fairytale Wedding. It was considered the social event of the year and for those invited an up close and personal look at American royalty. The term "American Royalty" is thrown around often in reference to celebrities that are larger than life and living out some kind of Cinderella complex to the delight of image consuming audiences everywhere.

Just months ago the term was again attached to Beyonce and Jay-Z after the very public announcement of the coming heir to The Throne. The term is attached to singers; Pop Princess, King of Pop, King of Rock & Roll, Queen of Soul, Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. The term is attached to politicians; think President Obama's inauguration. The term is attached to so many, so much that it is trite.

But not only is the term trite; it in and of itself is in direct conflict with the principals of this country.


If you think back to that boring American history class you took years or not so many years ago you'll remember the lesson of The American Revolution. You'll remember that lesson about great men from the colonies coming together to list their grievances against King George III, the tyrant across the water who installed red coats in homes of colonists and taxed the Yankees
recklessly even though they had no representation in Parliament. The whole idea and concept of America was born out of the need to get away from the monarchy, to disavow the royals, and prove that we the people are no better than each other.

Flash forward more than 200 years later and here we are working ourselves into a frenzy over actual royals -- the ones we disowned -- Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. (She hasn't been made Princess yet) Millions woke up at the crack of dawn -- myself included -- to watch the Royal Wedding. But because of the separate continents, countries, and time zones Wills and Kate can't truly satisfy our royal fix. Therefore, we turn to our celebrities whose lives we have become so invested in we hold them up on a pedestal and they know not to disappoint.

Kim Kardashian's wedding cost $10 million. They made $18 million from it. Girls and maybe some guys fed into the fake fairytale that was as much a lesson in what not to do when you're preparing to get married as it was a sort of pity party to marvel at everything you don't have and may never be able to afford.

I'm getting married next May. The budget for the wedding for my fiancee and I is nowhere near close to that of Kim Kardashian and yet we still think we're spending too much money. Another issue colonists sought to break away from when they broke ties with Britain and the aristocracy.

Historically, being royal means more than signing laws, going to meetings, and taking care of the affairs of state. To be royal is also to put on a show. From the mythical Kings and Queens in Shakespeare's plays, to the real life playboy Henry VIII, his feisty red-headed daughter Elizabeth I, the hemophilia spreading incestuous relations having Victoria, and even this current crop of royals whose pomp and pageantry rivals none not even the Kardashians.

My favorite royal figure is Elizabeth I. The Virgin Queen. The Queen who famously only wore White in public to symbolize her virginity. The Queen who wore a wedding band to symbolize her marriage to her countrymen. These are the spectacles Kings and Queens in aristocracies create around themselves to keep their people obedient and in awe. The display of the crown jewels worn all at once makes the paupers envious and inspired.

This type of spectacle and extravagance is so much more than a reality show.

We can keep up with the Kardashians, watch the oldest sisters take over whatever city they wish, see them hob-knob with the Jay's and Kanye's and watch them drop stacks on top of stacks on top of stacks on jewelry so blinged out and gaudy that deep down you know no one would ever really wear that ish in public.

The spectacles of extravagance our pop tarts and celebutantes create around themselves will never really rival actual royalty yet we eat it up as if they are royal and that just makes them go bigger. We take in so much of their show that they never seem to oversaturate or overexpose themselves.

We live for the glitz and glamour we don't have at a time where celebrities on TV in addition to bankers and politicians are the only ones with even a modicum of glitz and glamour. We can all get suited up, booted up, and fresh to death but in Seven paper denim jeans, Louboutins, Chanel glasses, a Balenciaga bag, and a Dior blazer... that just ain't happening.

Kim Kardashian's marriage and divorce symbolizes everything that America was not supposed to be: frivolous, excess, extravagant and over the top, a spectacle, a caricature of an aristocracy some of our countrymen traded their lives to escape. But moving out of the past and into our present Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Jay-Z and Beyonce all define a culture obsessed with consumerism. A culture consumed by celebrity. A culture more concerned with infamy than actual fame. A culture looking to get rich quick by doing absolutely nothing more than laying on one's back in a V-H-L shape (this is the exception for Jay and King B).

Our country was founded on the strength of its own merits by a collective and not an individual and yet it has devolved into a country more concerned with a select few than the masses. There are two very different realms people in this country inhabit when the whole purpose of this country was for all of us to inhabit one. To be one. Because out of many we are one.

I guess someone should relay this history message to Kim-K and klan because clearly they cut class that day.


Questions:
1. Do you think the demise of the Kardashian-Humprhies union exemplifies how much emphasis we put on the wrong things?
2. Though not touched on in the piece do you think these quick celebrity marriages and subsequent divorces highlights how much marriage is no longer valued?
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