Lavender Foobs, dilly dilly, lavender green…

–So the Settling of the Century is here, and it is indeed a dilly; rivalling in scope and pomp only the last doomed fairytale re-enactment within memory, that of of Charles and Diana Windsor.

So much so, that I’m rather inclined to give FBOFW creator Lynn Johnston the benefit of the doubt for once. On the off chance it all isn’t being delivered with what the ever-hopeful Bertie Wooster liked to call ‘a twinkle in his eye’, however…

Ugh.

Lynn, the whole ruddy point of your strip to begin with was that these are real people, real problems, real flaws. You know, the whole ‘camera in my house’ thing.

OK. So real people, sometimes they do nice things for people, sometimes they don’t realise how much it meant until later. Fine. That much of this wedding debacle works. In fact, handled properly, it could be a really nice way to wrap up the strip. Had the Pattersons not devolved into Pattersaints, had the denouement involved a real crisis…well, it occurs to me I’m describing the plot of It’s a Wonderful Life. Sappy, but it works.

Thing is, Lynn, this isn’t a meaningful Life Situation; it’s a wedding. Not a marriage, a wedding – and not even a tasteful one. Three weeks yet to go, and you’ve already managed to leave the distinct impression that every one of the realistic, down-to-earth human beings in your strip has been carefully aligned over decades in advance of a tacky lavender-and-teal monstrosity that’s been stripped of any personalisation whatsoever. (Certainly Modern Bride magazine would’ve disowned it on sight.)

You skipped development of a realistic relationship between the bride and groom, let alone that same couple and the real world, in lieu of making sure the the material stuff is provided. You haven’t even established why they deserve half of it! Liz has always been a fairly peripheral character in re: the Millborough circle. Ironically, that’s because up till recently she’s always been far too busy establishing her own life.

So that’s the final message of For Better or For Worse, that’s your legacy for the ages: Look for security in things – not individualistic, carefully-chosen or even tasteful things, just things. Better be nice to people ’cause you never know when they might be able to come through with a limo.

This isn’t a new development; I’m reminded of the series of strips in which Elizabeth claims that Anthony has achieved so much more than her because he has, basically, more stuff. But the more we’re asked to cheer for this mindset, the more ridiculously hollow it becomes, until you have SIX limos, and FREE catering, and FREE decorations from basically the random shop-owners down the street, and for heaven’s sakes, Lynn. I’ll grant you that nobody’s sprung the news that Anthony’s actually heir to the throne of the Netherlands. Yet.

it’s all highly reminiscent of a quote from Judith ‘Miss Manners’ Martin (paraphrasing a bit): “Miss Manners is always suspicious of brides who claim they want to make their wedding day the Best Day of Their Lives. It leaves the impression that the marriage can only head downhill from there.”

So there’s this big gaping vacuum where emotional honesty should be. Where we’re convinced that the bride and groom love each other…or, hell, that the bride’s even aware of her surroundings. It appears that the magic security-providing properties of Things are such that they shut your brain right off. This may or may not be related to the fact that we haven’t seen the groom at all this week, but I have my suspicions.

Yeah, I realise I’m getting worked up over a comic strip. Again. But damnit, woman, you’ve spent years and years training people to believe that your strip meant something more – are still insisting that it does – and this is what you leave them with. Shabby, Lynn, very shabby indeed.

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