I’m back from vacation! And just in time—sigh—to catch a week’s worth of buildup to the wedding of two highly privileged people who hold no actual power in my country. (Nor, really, in their own.) The wedding of Bonnie Prince Smiley and Commoner Kate, the Best Person in the World, will consume American media from now through the weekend—and, full disclosure, I do not pretend that TIME is not a part of this—which means that as TV columnist, I will be professionally obligated to follow it. The countdown. The Lifetime movie (above). The too-damn-early-in-the-American-morning nuptials. The fact that Kate is inspiring American women to wear birds on their heads.
So to start off the week, I put it to you thus: Why the hell should I care?
I ask this not to be snarky—not just to be snarky—but out of genuine curiosity. The royal wedding and things like it give me the sensation of eavesdropping on an earnest conversation in a foreign language: I get that there is passion, but I am incapable of understanding it. That so many people evidently do want to know about the wedding means I need to entertain the possibility is that the problem is with me.
I can understand the appeal of gawking at the lives of the rich: we have five million Real Housewives series to prove the appeal of that. I also get the public-relations significance of William and Kate to the flagging image of the British monarchy. But the main connection we, as Americans, have to that monarchy is that we fought a war to get away from it. OK, yes, there’s the novelty that Kate is a commoner. But again, Americans are impressed why? Everyone who gets married here is a commoner.
And while I know we spend plenty of time obsessive over the lives of people we should properly not care about—Jon and Kate rather than Will and Kate—in the case of our own celebrities, we have the thread of their narratives, their triumphs and failures and divorces, which gives us reason to be invested in their stories. Do Americans actually, year in and year out, follow the narrative of the Royal Family? And if so, who are these Tories?
Is it a cultural bias on my part? Am I less interested—to be blunt—because I’m a guy? I throw this out there, by the way, not wanting to make some kind of ridiculous overbroad generalization. (Say, like asserting that women don’t like fantasy fiction.) Truth be told, I know several women, including Mrs. Tuned In, who emphatically don’t care about the royal wedding, whereas I’m not sure I could name any female friends who really do care about it. But, as a child of the ’70s raised on Free to Be You and Me, I have to at least be open to the possibility that, on some subconscious level, I am raised to see weddings as silly girl stuff. (In my defense, however, I also don’t really care about sports.)
The last possibility is that I’m somehow biased by my milieu: maybe I’m just a cynical member of the urban media. Except that it seems equally likely to me that media elites are if anything biased toward caring too much about royal betrothals, and toward Anglophilia in general: why else is Piers Morgan working for CNN?
But again, this post is not about me: it’s about what you think is wrong with me. So I beg you, for the sake of my making it through this week, to explain to me the wrongness of my apathy. I’ll be in the kitchen, making tea and buttering scones.