“We’re just minutes away from one of the most anticipated weddings of all time.” — Chris Harrison, host of The Bachelor
We live up here. All of us, we who love The Wire, Mad Men, Arcade Fire, the films of Wes Anderson, David Foster Wallace, and other stuff white people like. We who appreciate beauty, we who respect auteurs, we who consider ourselves refined, participating citizens of our culture, we don’t wallow in the trash that comprises 99% of the Western media’s output. We are simply better than that.
We’re not even familiar with most of what’s out there. We can’t see that far down. We know not this Hoarders you speak of, we’ve never heard this Ke$ha , and we’re sure that this Tyler Perry you reference is entirely mythological. But sometimes the cultural detritus is unavoidable. There’s just too much of it. And sometimes Mrs. Dilemma watches something on TV that catches my eye or ear. Like the above quote, referring to the “Bachelor Wedding” between Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney, which aired last night on ABC.
There’s no doubt that Harrison is right. In fact, after scouring through the historical record and taking an exhaustive series of surveys, here’s where the Bachelor Wedding ranks on the list of the most anticipated weddings of all time:
- Prince Charles and Lady Diana
- JFK and Jacqueline Bouvier
- Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney
- Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine
- Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom
- Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier
- Joe Dimaggio and Marilyn Monroe
- Boston Rob and Amber Brkich
- Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu
- Hank Baskett and Kendra Wilkinson
So, clearly, I had to pay attention to the proceedings. And frankly, what I witnessed surprised me. I expected to see two reality TV dimwits in a shallow, made-for-TV ceremony that mocked the entire institution of marriage. Then, when I heard these words from the ceremony officiant, I knew we were in for something special, for something respectful: “To that end, Jason and Molly have each written a love poem.”
Finally, modern celebrities with some understanding of the higher art forms, the ancient traditions that have led us here, that have made events like The Bachelor Wedding possible. To show our appreciation, let’s analyze these two odes to better understand their influences and where they might best fit in the history of poetry as a literary device.
First up, Molly Malaney:
Two souls, one love
Living for today, not yesterday
From the first, it’s clear that Malaney is influenced by both the Greeks and the great British Romantic sonnet writers. She uses an omniscient first-person verse, both to add weight to her metaphysical imagery and to firmly establish herself within the European folk movement of the mid-19th century.
When the world turned it’s back, you shone a light
When I needed you, you came to me with an open heart
Here, Malaney adjusts her meter to match the speed of a racing heart, an impeccable match of The Signifier and The Signified.
Our love is reality, romance and roses: a trifecta of happiness
You are a part of me, I am in you
I love you
A clear reference to Longfellow’s infamous “Translucent Prisoner Trifecta” leads to a denouement as reverent in tone as it is lacking in affect. Just a stunning achievement by Malaney, updating ancient poetic tropes for our troubled, confused times. A triumph.
And now for the estimable Jason Mesnick:
We were two strangers, now we are friends
We were partners, now we are lovers
We were very different, now we are the same
We were searching, now we are found
We were two, now we are one
If I may use a term common in poetry analysis parlance: Wowee. Wowza. Look at what he did there. Mesnick follow’s Malaney’s restrained classicism with a deconstructionist, almost dadaist attack on the form itself. It’s like Les Six transplanted themselves from 1920s Paris to 2010 Seattle, and Mesnick is channeling them. Most impressive is the way he subverts the very concept of the male gaze, and turns the idea of marriage on its ear. The next great poetry movement begins here, ladies and gentlemen, and the line forms behind Jason Mesnick.