The Bachelor of Arts
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Hollywood superstar with a roving eye, or in a perennial state of quasi-detachment from the opposite sex, must be in need of a suitable girl. (Yes, it’s that heteronormative: we aren’t bothered about the love-lives of our ‘gay icons’ from the cinesphere.) So, once the reports of George Clooney – debonair yet ageing, commitment-phobic yet ludicrously sought after – first dating, and then, illogically enough, getting engaged with the British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, got out, people all over the world started going hysterical. While the liberal intelligentsia, for whom Clooney was the acceptable face of demotic Hollywood (his commendable work in Darfur, radical political declarations, campaigning for Barack Obama and myriad other daily marvels endearing him to the urbane middle-classes), for others, particularly the men on the other side of 40, the actor represents faith in a non-testosterone-pumping ideal of maleness, which delights in a cool, unemotional and cerebral demeanour, more European than American in taste. Clooney, being the quintessential Bachelor of Arts, has often been touted as the last bastion of a cosmopolitan masculinity, which, in its confident vulnerability, political and intellectual volatility as well as sexual non-conformity, has become both the reiteration and critique of an ultimate maleness. He has been the living breathing disparagement of the institution of marriage, as well as its spin-offs, in both his rejection of monogamy as well as his choice of unconventional women. He could be a latter-day Darcy – and probably is – and because our universe is still directed by the cultural cosmology written and directed by Jane Austen, we find his salvation in Amal Alamuddin, a brilliant, beautiful, multi-ethnic woman. Could there be a better advertisement for the institution of (imminent) marriage? Probably not.