Sunday, June 13, 2010

'Till Death Do Us Part

      Marriage should be between a man and a woman: the motif that rings within society and particularly the Catholic Church. It is not only taboo for two people of the same sex to get married, but for two people of the same sex to be in a relationship at all. One may ask who would deny a loving couple the right to marry, but an increasing number of Americans dedicate their time and effort to deny gay couples these rights. It is not only becoming a trend to hate “gays”, but a trend promoting hate and ignorance. Through this political cartoon Ward Sutton not only portrays the ironic nature of “marriage”, but the mockery of the connotation the word can instill.
      The title alone, “George Bush, The Pope, and Other Conservatives Explain: Marriage is a Sacred Institution…,” blatantly portrays the satire and sarcasm employed. George Bush, former President of the United States was known for sticking to his Methodist faith and for not supporting any gay right laws. Throughout his eight years it was never a secret that he did not approve of gay marriage, and this even spurred the singer Pink to write a song dedicated to his hatred and obtuseness. The pope, another famous (or infamous) figure is an icon who dedicates his life to preserving the bible’s definition of marriage. This allusion not only appeals to Christians, but to all people who are even faintly familiar with this faith. The Pope represents the top tier of the hierarchy of Catholicism, and the man on earth closest to the “word of the lord”. For Catholics there is no one above the pope; therefore if one is to really label themselves a “Christian”, they must live by the literal words from the bible and the pope himself. As a figure who represents people from different races, ethnicities, and political ideologies, it is a tad ironic for the Pope to choose one side over the other and claim not to accept those who think otherwise. Catholicism is a religion known to be hypocritical. Major principles include, “Treat those how you would like to be treated,” or “Accept others,” yet, when a gay man asks to be married in a Catholic church he is shunned and treated like he is an embarrassment, or “not a real Catholic”. If the Pope truly accepted everyone he would not so strongly advocate the banning of same sex couple marriages. The last allusion Sutton uses is conservatives. Conservatives or more commonly referred to as Republicans, are similar to the Pope in that they take the literal words of the bible for truth. Conservatives represent the “manly”, “pick yourself up from the bootstraps”, and “hard-worker” type person, echoing that people cannot be born gay and therefore should not be allowed to marry. However, this ignorance is expected from conservatives who already believe that elite business men rein over the “non-hardworking” American (who in actuality works more than the business men).
      By cleverly illustrating eight different marriage scenarios, Sutton illuminates the truth behind the real “sacred institution”. The first box is a picture of two teenagers sweating as they lock arms down the altar. The girl is pregnant, which itself is a perfect reason for marriage, right? Often marriage is used as a way to “fix the problem,” or a way to make mistakes right. It is often used to justify decisions made and a way to hold the wrong-doers accountable for these mistakes. The boy is wearing a baseball cap, possibly a symbol for a southerner or a rural citizen. To the corner is a gun pointing towards the couple, reinforcement that marriage is used as a threat or weapon to prosecute rule-breakers and heathens. Marriage should in no way be a punishmentbut a ceremony rejoicing a couple’s commitment. The second box portrays two couples with alcohol in their hands, apparently wasted, saying “I do.” The woman is asking, “Do what?” as if she was not even conscious making this life-long commitment. Las Vegas is often illuminated with lights from casinos, hotels, and also marriage chapels. Some view participating in these chapels as the “cool” thing to do in Vegas; however a marriage to a man you meet at a casino does not just stay in Vegas. The third box displays two people smiling, dressed for a wedding after winning a reality game show. Shows like the Bachelorette or the Bachelor depict the grand prize as a marriage and something you win, not a loving commitment between long-lasting couples. The losers are often not good enough for the Bachelor and therefore not worthy of a marriage. Messages like these are also harmful to children by making them feel as if he/she has to look a certain way in order for a man of woman to marry them. This illustration is a contrast to the first, where the marriage was a prison sentence; now it is a prize. The fourth box is of two celebrities in sunglasses talking with reporters about their new celeb-wedding. It is not uncommon for middle class America to be in awe when hearing about the price tags and extravagance of these weddings. They are seen as symbol of status and wealth. The woman here is showing her sparkling, large diamond ring as if it is no big deal. A wedding ring is the latest accessory in Hollywood, so get one before you’re behind the trend. The man in this picture is holding a “pre-nup”, another common weapon behind this sacred institution. Once being single becomes the new fad again he will be safe knowing his partner cannot rob him of half his worth.
      The next row begins with an elderly man and a shapely young blonde; both with entirely different interests on their minds. He had a bubble of her chest, while she has one of money. The man was probably a CEO, now with a copious lump sum in his bank account. Anna Nicole Smith is a woman who was infamous for this gold-digging lifestyle. Marriage is seen as sealing the deal to the benefits from both parties, and when this geyser dies she will most likely reap in his wealth. Note that a heart is nowhere to be found within these thought bubbles, another reinforcement that these people are not marry for love, but merely using each other for their own selfish needs. The sixth box portrays a politician and his mistress standing in front of a Family Values Sign. The politician is winking slyly while waving to the crowd. This is another example of abuse of this “sacred” institution. Marriage should be as means to show commitment, not to win elections or fools audiences. The seventh box is of an apparently gay man and his wife. The man is sweating profusely while the woman looks innocent and naïve. He appears to be shaking in his boots as if marriage to a female is a shield from his true identity. He is hiding behind the term “marriage”, hoping no one will uncover his desperation or guilt; too ashamed to admit his sexual orientation. By marrying this woman he is only putting both of them through a life filled with embarrassment and lies.
      Finally, the last box portrays two gay men discussing this so-called sacred institution. Diction such as ‘clearly’, helps emphasize the satire used throughout the entire cartoon. Sutton also uses the descriptive words, “loving, and committed”, to ultimately sum up what a true marriage should consist of; not the latter mentioned in this piece. This cartoon also not only mocks marriage but it mocks the fact that while this abuse is continuing, gays are still seen as not worthy of this sacrament. By not legalizing gay marriage the government is only stripping these citizens of religious freedom but the right to equivalent financial benefits acquired through marriage. Discrimination against gays is one of the last legal forms of discrimination. To move forward as a society we must be not be stuck within the narrow-mindedness of Claudius Ptolemaeus. The world is evolving; and as the world evolves the people on it continue to expand, as does the diversity that engulfs us. To become a society, nation, globe, that lives in unity, we must except every type of person and embrace variations from ourselves.
      “If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”- John F Kennedy. Differences, such as in sexual orientation will always be present, but like President Kennedy said, the least we can do is ensure our nation equal protection for our citizens and for this everlasting diversity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak your mind.