Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Cult of Celebrity

At the time of this writing, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was 63 hours ago. Yet here on Sunday evening, after two and a half days, two of the three 24 hour news channels I receive are showing their entire wedding coverage from this past Friday - for the umpteenth time!

It was a lovely affair, and, I suppose, a storybook tale about the beautiful girl whose "commoner" family hails from a coal mining town, who marries a young man who will one day be King of England. It makes a nice story and there was no shortage of pomp and pageantry (those Brits really know how to put on a great show!) But how long is this incessant coverage going to go on?

Granted, these Royal Weddings don't happen every day, and for the British Commonwealth, I suppose it is all a matter of national pride. News reports say that 2.9 billion (that's 1/3 of the planet's population!) watched the ceremony live. That is incredible when you think about it.

The hype building up to this event, even here in America, was unbelievable. The wedding plans were talked about on morning news shows for weeks. Cable news channels counted down the days and hours until the nuptials would be accomplished. By midweek last week, every broadcast news organization had anchor people on site in London, and their major news shows originated from places like Trafalgar Square or Hyde Park. The design of Kate Middleton's wedding gown was a greater secret than the formula for Coca Cola, or the ingredients in a nuclear bomb. By Friday morning the live coverage was spread across all the network feeds. In fact, here in Huntington, WV, the local morning newscast anchors were decked out in formal wear!

What is it that causes otherwise reasonable people to fixate on such an event?

My first guess is that it has something to do with the fairy tales that were read to us as children. Every young girl back in the 50's dreamed of the day when one day her prince would come to carry her away on a big white horse. You remember the stories. They all ended with them all "living happily ever after".

My brother would suggest that it's all a big deal for folks who "didn't get enough dress up", and make believe when they were kids.

For some, the interest might be historical. For others it might be the love story involved. To many people, it was all about the Prince's late mother. One friend actually said, "This world needs Diana and her seed!" (whatever that means).

My personal opinion is that it all has more to do with the cult of celebrity that seems to have engulfed our society. We have become a nation of voyeurs. Television, the Internet, and social media have enabled us to view the lives of celebrities 24/7. Celebrity award programs abound, giving these icons an opportunity to preen for us on the red carpet, and for them to steal the spotlight in the self congratulatory awards ceremonies. Many sit glued to their televisions to view "Dancing with the Stars" and "Celebrity Apprentice". Water cooler conversations swirl around who was voted off and who was fired. Apparently many folks live vicariously through an escape from reality, by obsessing on the lives of cinema stars, sports heroes, and others like Paris Hilton or the Kardashians, who somehow have become famous, just for being famous!

Can anybody answer my question, Why?

Why has this dominated the news for days?

During the same time, seven states in the southeastern U.S. have been declared disaster areas from the effect of severe storms and tornadoes. Hundreds of people are dead, entire towns have been demolished, thousands are injured and homeless. Yet the public obsesses over a marriage of a beautiful young lady to a fellow who happened to be born into the gene pool of an outdated monarchy, who happens to be the son of a dead celebrity, himself. In the vast scheme of things, this wedding, while interesting, should be less than a blip on the radar screen of human events. Instead, we are inundated with it, ad nauseum, two and a half days after the fact.

I certainly wish the Prince and his bride (I guess they are the Duke and Duchess of somewhere now) a long and happy life together. I wish the same for the thousands of couples who repeated similar vows in much smaller ceremonies all around the globe on the same day - in fact on any day.

Beyond the passing interest that is understandable, and for those who obsess over this. I would humbly suggest that you get a life.

For those of us here in "the Colonies", who are enthralled with the whole monarchy idea, keep in mind that is what we revolted against 235 years ago!

Enough already!


Anonymous said...

You could stick your head in the ground like an ostrich and pretend nothing is going on in the world; or you could just turn your knob to off.

C.J. Adkins said...

My point exactly, my anonymous friend. Other stuff IS going on in the world, but we've seen very little of it for the past three days. And believe me, I have turned the knob to off. But two and a half days later, everytime I turn it on, there it is again!