Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A Proposal to End All Proposals

The famous actor Valentino was born around this time of year, and for that reason I will be dedicating this post to this hero of the silent film era. As has been my practice recently, I will be doing so with the aid of the TV series Chuck.
I will start with a question that many a film tried to answer already: how do you bring down one of the best spies in the world, a woman who never lets her emotions stand in the way of her mission targets, a woman that’s always heavily armed and won’t hesitate to use those skilfully, a woman who proved again and again her ability to detect the slightest sign of danger, a woman so fluent in martial arts she even beat the best Thai kick-boxer at his own art, a woman for whom jets are always available for two way trips across continents at the shortest of notice?
If your answer is James Bond then you’re in the wrong. Sarah Walker would eat James Bond for breakfast and then move on to the main course.
No. The answer is a very simple. You propose to her. Yes, the way to slip under the world’s most skilled spy unnoticed is through a wedding proposal; that will turn her clueless! There is a scene where Chuck organizes a wedding proposal featuring bands, horses and carriages and even (if I remember correctly) elephants. Sarah, however, notices nothing (!). Then there is another scene, here, where Sarah discovers Chuck's proposal plan. Like the good woman that she is, she does nothing with that information. After all, it is the man's job to propose; the woman is there only to say "yes", isn't she?

Which brings me to ask: Proposals – WTF?
It seems to me as if people are taking the entire concept of the wedding proposal as an inevitability. Apparently, the proposal comes with its own strict set of rituals, most notably involving the man doing the proposing, organizing some special event for the event, the bent knee, the diamond ring, and the ideally surprised woman. In the context of Chuck, once series 3 had Chuck and Sarah finally expose their feelings to one another, their season 4 wedding became the running theme. I was hoping for more, though: I was hoping for Sarah, being the super agent that she is, to tell Chuck what she thinks of this entire proposal thing in this age where women are meant to be equal; that in this day and age it is a silly affair; that diamonds are acquired with the blood of many a poor people and that there is nothing special about carrying a piece of carbon on one’s finger. At the very least I was hoping for Sarah to do the proposing. But no – in Hollywood, we do it the conservative way.
Talking about women being equal in contrast to the men doing the proposing, I will ask another question: Weddings – WTF?
Yes, you heard it. Why do people that love one another need an official ceremony and certificate to love one another? Why is a wedding day described as [usually the female’s] most important day of life? What’s the big deal if about half the marriages don’t last? And why are gays, on the face of it representing the opposite of conservatism, in such a rush to get married?
Don’t get me wrong. If someone wants to get married, they should be able to, be it gay or straight. What I am questioning here is not the right to marry, but the need people have for getting married in the first place. It’s an archaic institution that, by now, does not mean much – no, not even to the strictest of conservatives (don’t tell me they never divorce or cheat on their partners). So – what is the point? And why is a cool series like Chuck pushing this Stone Age institution on us while glorifying it?
Sarah Walker, you have disappointed me greatly.

And now for something completely different.
You may as well ask me how come I love Chuck so much given all the criticism I have been pouring over it on these pages. I will answer with the following clip, which – with the aid of the rest of the episode surrounding it – made us LOL last night.

(There is a better version of this clip that does not allow embedding here)
If you still don’t get it then consider this: after more than 70 hours with these characterless they become more than fictional; they become, to one extent or another, friends. And with that in mind: Happy Valentino Day!


Jeni said...

I decided when I was about 16 (23 years ago) that marriage was a waste of time. I could never see any benefit in it, and I've never had the desire to frock up in a white dress and waste thousands of dollars on a party. It would be my worst nightmare to have someone propose to me - especially in a public place. Every time I see a public proposal on TV I feel nauseous. However, I agree passionately that gay people should have the right to marry though I have no idea why they'd want to. I'm living very happily in a de facto relationship with two kids and I get really annoyed when I hear that children benefit from married parents. Bullshit, I say. They benefit from love, stability and consistency, none of which is exclusive to those who are married.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I so totally agree with every word you wrote (even if I was never in danger of wearing a white dress). Thanks, Jeni.