Monday, November 16, 2009

In Which Carrie Prejean Fails to Fit NOM's Story Arc

It's not often that I would use the descriptor "good" in the same sentence as the National Organization for [Hetersexual] Marriage. However, I will concede that one thing NOM is good at is writing narratives that resonate with people's fears.

For instance, after Proposition 8 took away the right for same-sex couples to marry in California and LGBT advocates took to the streets in protest, NOM hyperventilated, "McCarthyism is threatening our free speech and freedom of association—our most basic constitutional rights. Donors who exercised these rights in supporting proposition 8 are seeing their employers or companies being targeted for harassment and intimidation."

When Rick Warren distanced himself from the anti-gay movement, NOM's Maggie Gallagher claimed, without evidence, that Warren was just kowtowing to the powerful gay movement that forces people to "mute [their] views on marriage."

When Carrie Prejean notoriously gave an inarticulate, barely literate answer to the ever-asinine Perez Hilton's question on same-sex marriage, NOM was quick to fit the tale of the Persecution of Carrie Prejean into their story arc. After Prejean ended up not winning the Miss USA contest, NOM mustered up a bizarre amount of outrage and built Prejean up as the biggest victim of an unfair election outcome since Al Gore in 2000. After she was later fired by Miss USA for alleged "continued breach of contract," NOM ramped up the narrative, stating:

"Hollywood hates Carrie. First they abuse her, then they try to get her to recant, then they threw mud, and now they are doing what they wanted to do from day one: Get rid of Carrie.

This cover story about a contract dispute doesn’t pass the smell test. Americans aren’t fooled that easily. God knows, and we know, the truth about Carrie: She’s a young woman of great beauty who chose truth over the glittering tiara that Hollywood offers. Of course they will try to punish her, but we know she will be fine in the end, because her values are in the right place." (Emphasis added).

On its website, NOM continues to run a video ad against same-sex marriage called "No Offense," further nurturing this persecution complex. The narrative proceeded to take a literal turn when Prejean announced the signing of a book deal where the 22-year-old was to write a memoir of the marriage controversy that allegedly left her "tiara-less."

For seeing hope for the "marriage defense" movement in the Carrie Prejean narrative, one commentator on NOM's website boasts that it is merely "Maggie’s latest stroke of genius."

None of this, of course, has a lick to do with whether or not same-sex marriage is a good idea for society. As long as Americans remain scared of the small cabal of villainous and powerful LGBTs, the substantive debate doesn't have to happen. People don't have to think about how LGBT people are harmed by the lack of equal marital rights as long as they're focused on protecting and defending themselves and their way of life from the homosexualists.

Yet, is Carrie Prejean the symbol of victimhood and traditional values that aligns with NOM's narrative? NOM brags of Prejean's values, but since they've brought it up, what exactly are Prejean's values? They have vaguely said that Prejean's values "are in the right place," but is the only measure of Real Values these days whether one opposes same-sex marriage?

No offense, but I'm not so sure that we should, as a society, value condoning beauty contests that reinforce age-old notions that women are to be valued primarily for their physical beauty and that losing such a contest is The Worst Possible Thing To Happen To A Woman.

No offense, but I'm not sure that we should value pageants that pay for women to get breast implants- procedures that, when done for beauty contest purposes, serve to fetishize female body parts and reinforce the idea that one standard of beauty exists for all women.

No offense, but it would be refreshing if Maggie Gallagher, who is (unfairly) mocked all the time on the internets for her looks, would use some of her incredible power and influence to critique this beauty industry rather than condone it.

No offense, but is a woman who allegedly made a sex tape of herself that, um, supposedly included only herself really the best person to represent the values of Opposite Marriage America?

In fact, it does not seem as though "stroke of genius" is the best choice of words of words for the manufacturing of the Carrie Prejean Narrative after all.

Ultimately, I'm left wondering. Are there are any real winners in these ugly, endless marriage battles? The LGBT community is regularly vilified and dehumanized. NOM and its leaders are widely reviled. One woman is regularly mocked for being "fat" and "ugly." Another has been publicly humiliated after being turned into a false martyr. LGBT families are bitter, hurting, and left without equal rights. Aggression begets more aggression and no one on any side of this should be surprised when the wind catches ones vile breath and blows it back into one's face.

Lest anyone forget, beauty pageantry is, first and foremost, a facade. Everyone knows that surface appearances count more than substance. In its mission statement, NOM claims "to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it." As substance takes a backseat to storytelling, perhaps NOM has found an apt martyr in Carrie Prejean.

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