There was an article I read a week ago about how the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) was rolling out a new advertising campaign for its diamonds. The article is entitled, “The diamond industry is aiming its new ads at millennials who aren’t that into marriage.” The bottom line of the article is that since lesser people are getting married, lesser people are buying engagement rings, ergo lesser sales for the diamond companies. What a tragedy. Gone are the days when you heard that slogan of “a diamond is forever.” Apparently now it’s: “Real is rare. Real is a diamond.”
It’s an amusing article for a couple of reasons. For one it shows how diamonds really had nothing to do with marriage until De Beers said so. It all boils down to what the advertising firms want us to want. And yep, we just keep drinking the kool-aid.
Another reason I found it amusing was that it dealt with fairytales:
The [ad] agency learned that millennials associated diamonds with a “fairytale love story that wasn’t relevant to them,” said Thomas Henry, strategist at Mother NY, in a statement. “We needed to bring this powerful symbol into the modern world by acknowledging that perfection is no longer the goal for a great relationship.”
After decades of Hollywood romcoms all selling their own 90-minute “fairytale love story,” the diamond industry finally turns out to be the poor guys footing the bill. Hollywood was just too good at selling “happily-ever-afters” that made us forget what was (ironically) real in the first place. It was the finger pointing to the moon but, as the great Bruce Lee warned, we concentrated on the finger and “lost sight of that heavenly glory.”
An alien coming to earth for the first time would not altogether be wrong if it referred to marriage as a “fairytale.” It was an institution, nearly universal among our societies, that unites two strangers, a man and a woman at that, in a permanent and lasting bond for the rearing and nurturing of children. It was ,and is still, set against a backdrop of “free” sex and unlabeled relationships, of how the videos in the article described as the “wild and kind.” It is not perhaps new that we juxtapose what is “chaotic” or “wild” with what is poetic. G.K. Chesterton had already made that objection in his time when there was the notion that being in revolt was poetic. It is only in a dying and decaying society where we romanticize death and decay or in Tolkien’s terms where ,”Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of sons.” The chaotic, the wild: these are situations that happen all by themselves. Anyone who has studied the 2nd law of thermodynamics knows this: it is entropy. Things, relationships, people – if left to themselves eventually decay irreversibly. There should be nothing surprising, therefore, of the sight of a fruit left on the ground decaying and rotting away. But if that same fruit were, after several years, found intact and ripe, now that might be poetic. Of the infinite possibilities where an endeavor might have gone awry, and yet it does not – that is poetic. Perhaps this is why Chesterton said that the most poetic thing in the world is not getting sick.
Take the notion of marriage. The promise of “forever” or the idea that love transcends the bounds of space and time never fails to stir the depths of the human soul (here’s to you, Interstellar). In the USA the statistics of the number of marriages that end in divorce are, what, around 50%? Whatever it is, it doesn’t take a divorce law to show how marriages end up sour (just take a look at the Philippines). There could be a million reasons why a relationship does not work out. Yet with all that, two strangers take their chances and enter into marriage. Now while Hollywood and the DPA are selling that moment, who could disagree at the magic of the first few minutes of the movie Up? Here’s the clip in case you didn’t see it yet:
A powerful clip. It’s fascinating because the magic (if you would call it that) comes not at the moments of joy of the couple (moments without any diamond rings, if I may add), but when we perceive their time speeding up, where one second turns into a decade, and then we blink and find that the two are now old, but still together. The scene where Ellie fixes Carl’s necktie is an example and my personal favorite. The thought that routine, while labeled by some as completely unpoetical, is turned on its head and becomes even romantic.
It was, therefore, quite accurate for millenials to refer to marriage as “a fairytale love story” and to reject it as not being relevant to them. At least they called it as it is. Marriage perhaps is a fairytale, but it might also be the only fairytale that’s real. Now, it’s quite another thing for advertising companies to make this rejection of the fairytale a fairytale in itself. I take it that the “real is rare” idea is just glorifying extramarital relations and injecting a demand for diamonds in the equation. So, are we going to keep drinking the kool-aid now?