From Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, to Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, from Jennifer Lopez and Marc Antony to Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, 2011 was not a good year for celebrity marriages. They fell like dominoes, toppled over by the headwinds that are always gusting in the face of celebrities, devoured by the beast that is our celebrity-obsessed popular culture.
While this year seemed to shine the light of ridicule on celebrity marriages, in actuality every year is a bad year for celebrity marriages. As Americans spend too much of our time following the details of celebrity life, we should all pray that the misguided celebrity version of love doesn’t find its way into the mainstream. If it does, we’re all in trouble.
The saga of Kardashian and Humphries, played out for all the world to see on the E! reality show “Kim and Kourtney Take New York,” was a clear illustration of the fallacies underlying the celebrity marriage. They knew each other just a few months before they dived onto the marriage train, their minds and bodies still tingling from the fiery joys of infatuation. Is there anything as exciting as the first kiss, the first night of intimacy, the first extended trip, with a new love? You’re so intoxicated by the drug of passion that you don’t stop for a second to consider whether the two of you are even minimally compatible. In the case of Kim and Kris, they weren’t (minimally compatible). As you watched them try to work out the details of their life together–where they would live, when they would have kids–you began to wonder how these two people ever saw each other even as casual friends, never mind life partners. Let’s hope that out here in the real world, if our young people are taking any cues from Kim and Kris, the cues would be to have a conversation or two with your fiance about your future together before you dive into marriage.
And then there’s the case of Arnold, California’s “Gubernator.” Arnold was seduced by the other side of the celebrity coin: power. In other words, I have so much of it that I can do anything I want to whomever I want, including my wife. Can you imagine the balls it would take to sleep with the family maid and allow her to live in your family home with the love child that resulted from your longtime affair? In the real world, the customary male reaction to the production of a love child is to keep the mother and love child as far from your wife and family as you possibly can. But when you are an international film star, multimillionaire and governor of the nation’s largest state, you don’t bother yourself with such real world concerns. I would guess that since most guys are not international film stars or millionaires, we don’t have to worry about this one becoming commonplace across America.
There was also the seduction of power at play in the downfall of unions like those of Marc Anthony and of Kobe Bryant. Both of these men were betrothed to gorgeous women–in the case of J.Lo, the “most beautiful woman in the world,” according to People magazine. But beauty was not enough for them. Their eyes wandered, their loins strayed–for Kobe, at least 105 times, according to his wife Vanessa Bryant.
We can be certain that celebrity marriages will continue to tumble in 2012, just as surely as all things Kardashian will continue to rule the celebrity world. It would be nice if we could look closely at these celebrity marriages to glean some lessons for us all, but I’m afraid that when we look closely, we will find ourselves staring at a whole lot of nothingness.
By Nick Chiles
Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author.