The Bradley-Martin Ball and the end of the Gilded Age. Part II

So when we talk about excess in the modern sense we kind of think we invented the concept. One need look no further than at the garish spectacle that has become Kim Kardashian’s wedding to notice that this trend among celebrities and the mildly well-to-do is in full force. I have no problem with someone spending the money they have earned on what they want but at what point does someone tap the other on the shoulder and say: We all know you aren’t royalty, but you want us to treat you as such. Could you first learn some grace and elegance? Or at least, not have a $20,000 wedding cake? It’s sad when Kate Middleton looks modest comparatively, given she is the future Queen Consort of Great Britain. Is Kim Kardashian the next anything? Nope. She’s a nobody at heart, just like the rest of us Americans. Long ago this country discarded titles and appointments of peerage, yet our media and those who feed off of it like celebrities are so keen to try and recreate this atmosphere or social structure it makes me gag. These are people from normally humble backgrounds who sometimes ruin themselves in pursuit of an image that is vastly incongruent with the social strata of today as well as the economic composition of society. It’s almost the equivalent of a dick size contest, except for here we have Kim Kardashian, a reality star famous for being railed out on a sex tape. I’m quite certain that the Valois, Bourbons, Hapsburgs, Tudors, Windsors, Romanovs, and Yamatos, etc. didn’t take their positions in society based upon the popularity of a sex tape. At the same time, some of these people, but not all, being nobility, were keenly aware of the privilege their station placed upon them and sought to ameliorate any sort of social tensions that it may cause. Some but not all. Why I highlight this though is to draw distinction between then and now, the function of the nobility in society versus the function of people like Kim Kardashian. Weddings were une affaire d’etat and thus akin to the State of the Union Address, Presidential Inaugurations, and so on. Shows of wealth, power, and prestige were meant to send signals to rivals and allies alike that the Valois/Bourbons/Romanovs were not to be messed with and you best keep the current arrangement or else their overwhelming awesome would come across the borders. Kim Kardashian is not royalty. Her wedding will not even be a footnote in history. Yet, here she is, spending money like a drunk and trying her damned best to make us be in awe of her. I find it all incredibly sad and disconnected. This is how love is expressed between normal people? Through shows of wealth, prestige and power? I think someone missed the message along the way. How can one show one’s face in such circumstances? How embarassing would it be to encounter Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, truly two men who are as wealthy as monarchs of old, knowing that they have devoted their fortunes to charity? I think these considerations take intelligence and tact, both of which seem sorely lacking in this fête. Kim: you’re a beautiful girl, but we all know it probably won’t last and really what is the goal? Publicity? Good job, I will go out of my way to avoid you and your family in every field in which I encounter them. Unlike the Valois weddings, I know yours isn’t a show of power and influence but rather sadness and a lack of self-awareness that is as breathtaking as your exterior beauty.

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