Marriage, Money, Tom and Katie

Two years ago, one of my daughters made the colossal mistake of declaring, to the family, that she was not going to finish high school.


“I’m just going to marry a rich man,” she said.  She’d been watching a few too many episodes of The Kardashians.


Fortunately for her in the long run - albeit unfortunately for her in the short run  -- we all set about educating her.


Her older brother, with all the tact of a teenage boy, used logic to explain to her, repeatedly, that her ambition was in all respects equivalent to prostitution.  He, of course, used the synonym for prostitution that has only one syllable, since it brought his sister to tears faster.


I was more diplomatic.  For the next three months, every time we passed a particularly grotesque older man on the street, I would suggest that he was probably quite rich and that maybe, if she were lucky, she could marry HIM.


Our strategy worked beautifully. Said daughter has hunkered down academically and now plans to go to Harvard.  Phew!


All this rose up again in my mind, and in our dinner table conversations, with the news that the young, beautiful actress Katie Holmes is divorcing the highest paid actor in Hollywood after one child and five years of matrimony.  My kids and I talked about why she is leaving Tom Cruise now, and the rumors that she is protecting their daughter Suri from incipient influences of Cruise’s religion, Scientology.


Then we got to the meat of the dilemma: Why did Katie Holmes marry Tom Cruise in the first place?  And, perhaps more importantly, did it pay off for her to do so?


It’s always gratifying when you can use celebrities to engender philosophical debates that would make Immanuel Kant proud.  Young, beautiful, rising television star is courted by older, still-handsome, immensely rich and powerful movie star.  She stays married for five years, builds her celebrity profile by appearing on dozens of magazine covers with famous husband and their famous child, and walks away with a bite-sized chunk of his wealth in child support, as well as a nice home in Montecito, California.


Plus a beautiful daughter she gets to keep!  An extra special party favor.  What’s not to like?


Well, the standard counter-argument rests on self-respect.  My son would say all Katie Holmes negotiated was the price of her services, not whether or not she qualifies as a prostitute. And maybe he is right.