DREAMING of a WHITE PRINCE: Town & Country’s Top 50 Bachelors
So Town & Country Magazine just published its list “of the most notably eligible men in the universe right now.” Being that this magazine is Town and Country, one should not expect to see any profiles of working-class blue collar guys. The list is an outstanding celebration of elitism, privilege, whiteness and inequality. Perhaps the editors of Town & Country should have been more specific about which universe they were speaking of, it is clear their universe consists only of Paris, London, Manhattan, Miami, and Beverly Hills. The list includes only three non-white individuals, four Kennedy offspring, European princes, an earl, and other sons of privilege. Asia, which has 60 percent of the World’s population, only has one representative on the list. Although, the magazine seems confused about him writing “Brushing up on the history of his homeland may be difficult: Is it Burma or Myanmar? Rangoon or Yangon?” Africa, the second most populous continent, has one representative in actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is the British born son of Nigerian parents.
They range in age from seven-month-old Prince George Alexander of Britain to fifty-year old actor Johnny Depp. While the inclusion of Prince George is all the proof needed that this list should be thought of as a joke, the glaring racism and sexism of the list, however, demands serious critique and analysis. Almost all the men on the list are the sons of celebrities and wealthy families. Two of the three black males on the list include Theo Spielbierg, the adopted son of film director Steven Spielbierg, and Corey Robinson the eighteen-year-old son of retired NBA player David Robinson. The inclusion of three black males and Ivan Pun the “oxford-educated son of Burmese property developer Serge Pun,” was intended perhaps to shield the magazine from the very accusations of exclusion, which this post is making.
By ‘bachelor’ the magazine simply means unmarried male, there is no clarification of who is gay, queer or straight, and some profiles admit that the bachelors have significant others already. Let us go ahead and assume that there are no seven-month-old little girls right now who can either read Town & Country Magazine or who are already on the lookout for a future husband. So why the inclusion of seven-month-old Prince George and some teenage males who are likely not looking to settle down at ages 18 and 19?
The dream of white American elites has always been to recreate the British aristocracy stateside. Many an American WASP heiress has gone off to London to snag a British baron, earl or duke. The plucky Yankee Wallis Simpson managed to snag the Prince of Wales himself. Princes of Wales have been the Holy Grail in the white American romantic imagination. Now that Kate has snagged William, seven-month-old George, the latest Prince of Wales, has to become the new prize. Setting aside the possibly pedophiliac connotations of the magazine’s inclusion of George, his inclusion does have a purpose. The purpose is to reinforce the old idea that the ultimate ambition of women should be to snag a husband, not to dream of being CEOs, presidents, doctors and lawyers, police officers, or professors when they grow up, but to be wives and mothers, and if lucky duchesses and princesses, and it is apparently never too early to get started.
The term trophy wife is often used, but there also exists the idea of the trophy husband, a trophy husband is white, rich, royal, or aristocratic and hopefully handsome. Intelligence and character are not necessary to make a man a trophy husband. This list reaffirms that the only prize a woman should keep her eye on is a potential husband. People magazine publishes its annual list of the most beautiful women in the world and Maxim magazine publishes the Hot 100 list, a list of women, mainly models and actresses it considers desirable, both lists are just as problematic as the bachelor list in terms of offering a narrow Eurocentric concept of what is beautiful and in demarcating who is worthy to be loved and desired.
The answer is not to institute a diversity program to make sure these kinds of lists are geographically and ethnically inclusive, but to abandon these kinds of lists altogether which seek to quantify human value in terms of wealth and presumed physical attractiveness. They reduce men to matrimonial trophies and women to desperate damsels waiting for their billionaire/duke/princes to come. The magazine’s eligible bachelor list is an ethnocentric exercise in WASP cultural masturbation and pure sexism. There is a universal human need for love and companionship, love does not have to necessarily take place within the traditional context of heterosexual marriage. If the great fairy tale of Charles and Diana taught us anything it is that Happily Ever After, only happens in books and movies. Some gals may be dreaming of snagging a white prince like Harry, and some may be dreaming of a nice Filipino, Haitian, Jamaican, Ghanaian, Chinese, Jewish, Lebanese, Mexican guy or gal.