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Film Clips, Chapter 8

Part I

Modern Day Fairy Tales: British Royal Weddings Since 1947

CBC Archives Series

CBC has archived news clips on the British royal family weddings going back to Elizabeth II’s relatively modest wedding and extending forward as far as the engagement announcement for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. These brief news clips can be used to illustrate practices surrounding the ideal of the wedding ritual (van den Hoonaard, pp. 151–155); the standards set and exceeded in the public discourses surrounding wedding rituals; and public reactions like nationalism that are sparked by royal wedding rituals. The clip on Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding spectacle includes commentary by Pierre Trudeau’s then young sons (spot Justin!).

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. How have the royal weddings changed over the years that CBC has been archiving their film footage (1950s to present)? How do these changes reflect general changes in the rituals in Britain, Canada, and the US?
  2. Why is it important that the Royals still engage in public wedding rituals? What sense of symbolic communitas (p. 161) is gained (or not)?
  3. If you watched Kate and William’s wedding in 2011, what was different from previous royal weddings? Why did this change? What stayed the same?

Part II

Some Kind of Arrangement (1998)

NFB, Ali Kazimi (director), 45:42

Arranged marriages in Canada are not as uncommon as generally assumed. They beg the question “Why are some Canadian-born children of immigrants engaging in this process?” This documentary provides material for students to compare with the Canadian wedding rituals described in the chapter: as a rite of passage (van den Hoonaard, p. 148); past rituals (p. 151); present rituals (pp. 148–151); gender convergence; conspicuous consumption (pp. 153–155); and honeymoons (pp. 159–160).

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. How do the partners in the arranged marriages in this video combine Canadian wedding rituals with rituals from their immigrant parents’ home countries?
  2. Arranged marriages are usually thought to enlist traditional gender norms and roles. Comment on this hypothesis using this documentary as a source of illustration.
  3. Would you agree to an arranged marriage if your mother or father offered one? Why or why not?

Part III

Jae Rhim Lee: My Mushroom Burial Suit

TED talk, 7:30

Jae Rhim Lee looks at traditional funeral practices in America (van den Hoonaard, p. 161) as a denial of death with polluting effects for the environment. What should we do with our toxic bodies after death? The “infinity burial project” is a study of how to decompose bodies using mushroom species and “decompiculture.” Think of the implications of “infinity” for the surprise. She is wearing the prototype of the burial suit and describes the “decompiculture society” that accepts death and decomposition and promotes a more environmentally friendly burial ritual.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Does the “infinity burial” represent what van den Hoonaard calls a “secularization” of burial practices or a “celebration of life”?
  2. How would an infinity burial change the way we mourn or the way we give mourners a sense of “symbolic communitas” (p. 161)? If you have attended a funeral, what would differ?
  3. Would you agree to be buried (and possibly resurrected) as a decompiculture? Why or why not?