Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The British Royal Birth and American Media

Well, that's done. Aren't you excited? If you were like me you were anxiously waiting to get news of the British royal birth. The new Prince of Cambridge was born yesterday and I am just so excited by this news. The rest of you must have been similarly intrigued because most of the American based television news shows I skimmed before coming to work and after arriving home were all filled with American anchors and gossip columnists acting a fool. Lots of precious air time and print space on various American stations and newspapers was devoted to the amount of time that the Duchess of Cambridge spent in labor, what the name of her new child was going to be, how long it would be before this boy would be king, who was ahead of him in the line of succession, how his birth would officially be announced, who was qualified to actually be in the delivery room to verify that he actually arrived from the nether regions of the Duchess and wasn't some sort of nefarious pretender Antichrist switched at the last moment and all sorts of other trivia that was only possibly of interest to various addled headed romantics.  It made this sappy old traditionalist feel a swell of royalist patriotic feeling in his heart and.... wait a minute....

That's right, I'm not British. I'm American. And usually I am not personally emotionally engaged in the arrival of a child into this world unless that child is mine or that of my kith and kin. I am ALWAYS happy to hear that friends, relatives, classmates, co-workers or other people I know are new parents/grandparents/uncles/aunts. I enjoy seeing their baby pics and hearing their funny stories. Why? Because I know these people and like or love them. Other folks? Well the best estimate is that there are approximately almost 400,000 children born every day on this planet. I don't mean to be a curmudgeon but I don't know or care about most of those people. I wish every child on this planet happiness, health and long life. My interest ends there.

I don't understand why it is big news in this country when a new heir to a foreign throne is born. Although you might not know it from some accents heard on various American news shows this country is not a province of the United Kingdom. We actually fought wars to make that point. We have no kings, no nobility and if this country had House words they would probably be "We do not bow"

So it was amusing and confusing to me to see so many American TV producers evidently accurately make the call that their audience cared that William and Kate did what roughly 73 million people (take a little off from that number thanks to polygamists, multiple births and artificial insemination) successfully do each year. Perhaps, and this is a sobering thought, it's news in this country because by some standards we now have less social mobility in the US than exists in the United Kingdom. So we're getting the atrocious class structure without the cool gothic or baroque castles. I'd rather have the castles. Maybe it's just a logical extent of a silly celebrity fixation in which we want to know everything about celebrities. I don't know. I can't help but be reminded of this classic Monty Python clip, which more or less accurately sums up my feeling towards all monarchies.

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