Daily Dose: Marriage is not a commercial break

Kacper Niburski
January 28, 2014
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

If pop culture has taught me anything, it’s that nothing screams wedding bells like Madonna dressed up as a kitsch cowboy and singing “Open Your Heart” with a voice that sounds like the voice of absolute death.

Two nights ago at the Grammys this nuptial call squawked loudly. After a performance of “Same Love” by Macklemore and Mary Lambert, Queen Latifah officiated the marriage of some 33 same sex and straight couples. With minimal lighting and the soft humming of a church choir accompanying her, she used the power vested in her “by the State of California… to celebrate love and harmony in every key and colour.”

I’m sure it was supposed to be a display of how marriage is supposed to work. I’m sure that it was supposed to be a call to incite change on conservative values. And I’m sure that the whole thing was supposed to be so damn beautiful.

But I felt an unsettling feeling gnaw at me as the camera panned from a same sex couple embracing to Macklemore signing to Taylor Swift nodding along to the same sex couple again. The whole shebang felt momentary and fleeting. What I saw was not a celebration; it was entertainment feeding off our animalistic sense of wanting to belong.

Let it be known that nothing takes away from the cherished moment of those couples. Nor can anyone reduce the magnificence of the marriages themselves. But what occurred was no less a pageantry. The performance was not beautiful for this was not its purpose and meaning. It was a stage, an act, a show. There was a curtain. There was a close. And people clapped during it all.

Everything was too superficial, too overdone. Whether it was the plastic-faced Madonna belting out some rickety tunes or Queen Latifah's over bearing excitement, throughout the entire closing act I did not see a sense of commemoration for the couples. They became ancillary to the show almost as though they were just basic props for a set – people who just stood around, waited for a queue, got married, and moved as instructed. I’m sure some even were told that crying looked good for the camera.

What the Grammys showed wasn’t so much a statement on politics as it was a product placement. Marriage became commoditized. It was bought and sold with advertisement time, celebrity status, and common gimmicks: a flash of one star crying, another, then the lights fade, the show is over, and we’re left there on our couches waiting for the next show to start. A commercial break hums a familiar tune in between.

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