Marriage equality, as a topic, is very much in the headlines at the moment both here in New Zealand where has been debated in parliament and in the US where the Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments about the "Defense of Marriage Act" which would limit federal government to only recognising marriages between a man and a woman.
One sound bite I heard from a marriage equality advocate outside our own parliament buildings was that it's "all about love" which, because I have watched The Princess Bride dozens of times over the years, was translated in my brain to "Wuv, twue wuv".
And that's how I came to reflect on what The Princess Bride might be able to teach us about love and the institution of marriage. Now, I am given to understand because this has come up before, that there are some folks who haven't actually seen The Princess Bride. If this is you, I'm sorry but this post is basically one spoiler after another. Also, we're heading into a long weekend. Surely you can spare 2 hours of it to watch this movie. It's a classic!
Things The Princess Bride can teach us about marriage equality
Not everyone defines marriage the same way - For Prince Humperdinck marriage is merely a means to an end. Find a pretty girl. Get engaged to her. Arrange for her to be abducted and murdered on the eve of the wedding in order to start a war with a neighbouring country. Tale as old as time, that one. In fact this story arc will most likely be making an appearance in Home and Away next week (because this is about the only outlandish plotline that that soap hasn't done yet).
There have and always will be douchebags who get married for their own selfish reasons (looking at you, Kim Kardashian) just as there are plenty of gay and lesbian couples who want to get married for the right ones.
This is true love. You think this happens every day? - Well, yes, actually. True, most love stories don't involve fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love and miracles...but they do involve the love part. Someone, somewhere is falling in love with someone else right now. It's not a special thing that just heterosexuals do.
Some day you may not mind so much - The sick boy in the movie (played by Fred Savage) to whom The Princess Bride is being read is not much keen on the soppy public displays of affection that occur in the beginning of the story. He's a kid and all this smooching makes him feel... uncomfortable.
However by the end of the tale what he grows to understand is that Westley and Buttercup have been through a lot and heck, they deserve to get a bit kissy-face if they want to.
The idea of a man getting married to another man might make you feel unsettled, but who's to say that they haven't struggled and overcome villians, rodents of unusual size, and fireswamps to be together? Just because you're not used to seeing it, doesn't mean they don't have the right to their happiness too.
As with young Fred, it's only a big deal if you make it one. Grow up, already.
If you deny what is obvious to everyone you'll only look like an ass - In desperation, Inigo takes Westley's lifeless body to Miracle Max, the only man who might be able to bring him back from the dead. He asks the unconscious Westley what he's got to live for, and with the applicaton of a bellows manages to elicit an answer. The answer is "true love" but Max doesn't want to hear it and comes up with an alternate interpretation involving cheating and cards.
It's Max's own hang ups and cowardice that lead him to deny what is clear to everyone else in the room - that this is true love and no one, not even a washed up miracle man who was fired by the King's stinking son should stand in its way.
There's more to "mawage" than a "man and wife" - Towards the end of the film Prince Humperdinck "marries" Buttercup. She doesn't consent to the marriage and repeatedly tells the prince she has no intention of going through with it (though she is somehow coerced into a rather fetching wedding gown and her hair is looking pretty spectacular...under duress). Regardless, the ceremony goes ahead with an Impressive Clergyman who pronounces Humperdinck and Buttercup "man and wife". Because if you're the prince you can marry someone even if they don't seem particularly interested in doing so (looking at you, Prince Albert of Monaco).
Performing a marriage when one of the parties isn't consenting isn't cool. It's also not legal, as Westley points out later. But what about two consenting adults who'd really like to get married but aren't legally allowed to? Is that much better?
Life isn't always fair - Who says life is fair? Where is that written? Well, not in our current legislation...but we could make it fairer if we choose to.
I actually think that there are other things that The Princess Bride probably has to teach us about marriage equality and if you're a fan like I am and can think of some good examples I welcome you to share them below. However, I understand that there are people who feel very strongly that marriage equality would be A Very Bad Thing and that they like to comment on blog posts too. I'd like to be able to say that that's fine, and it won't bother me if you do that.