Our bloggy friend, 5thState, presents his take on the recent media madness in the U.S. over some wedding in England…
This week the American corporate mass media has shifted into ‘over-bonkers-drive’ coverage of everything to do with Friday’s matrimonial shindig in London, England-shire, of Prince William Windsor (of the Windsor Windsors) and Catherine Middleton; a bit of middle-class crumpet from Buckleberry (best known for its hobbit-friendly, Nazgul thwarting ferry).
Such gushing attention might appear extremely odd given America’s anti-monarchical foundations, until one considers a few facts and features of the WASPy American psyche that has been molded from the nation’s vague subconscious memory of its birth, its awkward pubescent years in search of a moral compass, its first experiences with the sexiness of war (and subsequent depression over war-erectile dysfunction), its personal battle against oil addiction punctuated by episodes of political paranoia to form its contemporary state of ADD, Alzheimer’s and dependence on pseudo-scientific remedies, blockbuster-movie sponsored food-type “Happy-Meals” with the extra spiritual nutrition of toxic choking-hazard toys, and FDA approved pharmaceutical solutions to problems that most Americans probably wouldn’t ‘have’ if drug-company psy-ops departments weren’t such a great source of the advertising dollars and campaign contributions that allow the mental midgets of the media and politics to enjoy the privileged lifestyle of the fabled American Dream of owning time-saving appliances and hanging with the celebrities of human endeavor who usually actually have worked-hard for their life-rewards.
Note: If you struggled with the above run-on paragraph or in fact totally comprehended-it, just getting through it means that you are a contemporary and real American!
So where was I? Oh yes! The topic is America’s seemingly counter-intuitive fascination with British royalty and this current Royal Wedding.
Well it occurs to me that there are several major factors at play in both the sincere emotional and calculated pragmatic enthusiasm for the British royal wedding event that are simply expressions of the most mundane and generally universal human proclivities —the appeal of love and sex, money and power, popularity and respect, and fantasies come true (not necessarily in that order).
Every nation as a whole desires to be exceptional (and imagines the condition to be inherent rather than a consequence of time and circumstance) but in living memory none surely has insisted on such exceptionalism so-stridently as the United States.
Granted, the US has been and still is quite exceptional (unfortunately in some very disturbing and self-destructive ways), but only ‘in its own time’ and only due to the circumstances of its time—just as Great Britain could declare itself exceptional during the 18th and 19th Centuries when it policed the world’s oceans and administered trade and law over one quarter of the world’s population and land-mass, and just as the Romans could declare themselves exceptional for their extensive economic and military hold over ‘the known world’ from the last Century BC/BCE to the 5th Century AD/ACE.
The Romans and the British both adopted an attitude that their respective dominance in the world was due to some inherent national quality—the United States simply followed-suit—when surely in fact the dominance achieved was really due to a temporal accidental confluence of fortune and opportunity; otherwise in either case the supposedly inherent national characteristics of exceptionalism that were supposedly the root cause of the establishment of such empires should inherently have maintained both or either of them when in fact of course they were both ultimately significantly diminished and effectively destroyed, from without and within.
So what does the above have to do with the Royal Wedding and the combination of sincere and opportunistic American enthusiasm for it? The following reasons might apply:
Well, for one, a royal wedding is inherently an exceptional event, and Americans in general are enamored with exceptionalism in almost any form (being exceptional themselves of course).
For another, this royal wedding represents common aspirations which happen to particularly resonate with certain aspects of “the American Dream”—principally the opportunity to socially and financially better one’s self by whatever means available. And in case you think that marrying into wealth and status doesn’t at all resemble the American vision of success being the natural consequence of hard work and merit, it is in fact totally simpatico with the American dream of acquiring a better life through devices of convenience—such as the vacuum cleaner, the Sham-Wow, Ritalin, the Bedazzler and Jimmy Dean’s new taste-sensation of “breakfast on a stick”; marrying into wealth and status is simply a convenient device that many Americans have in fact employed many times over the years.
If Americans didn’t secretly like the idea of formal monarchy they wouldn’t have attached the nomenclature of “the King” to Elvis Presley and the “the King of” to the singer formerly known as that talented black kid with five brothers. They wouldn’t have financed a multi-billion dollar business empire that since the 1940s has offered increasingly lackluster acknowledgement of the service of its inspirational ever-optimistic red-trousered founding rodent in favor of the glorification of cartoon princesses (of necessarily foreign origin, of course) and facsimiles thereof (like Pocahontas, or that sexy, slutty semi-bestial abomination called “The Little Mermaid”).
Then there’s the subconscious national inferiority complex regarding history—America’s history being relatively so short, often ignobly violent (the Indian Wars, the “War of Northern Aggression”, the mobster wars of the Prohibition, the Vietnam War and especially the War on Terror) and just plain tacky:
Where for example, the Greeks left us the Venus de Milo, and the Romans the Statue of David, WASPy America has produced Barbie.
Where for example, the British bequeathed Shakespeare, Newton’s Laws, the chronometer and the Origin of the Species (and the three best wizards ever—Merlin, Gandalf and Harry Potter) to the world, WASPy America has willed the world the ‘self-help’ book (results may vary), gravity- and entropy-denying ‘Chicago-school’ ”supply-side” laws of economics (what goes up keeps going up and when it suddenly but predictably doesn’t there is no equal and opposite reaction suffered by the stock manipulators and speculators), the Snooze button and hybrid Biblical theme-park/natural history museums featuring Jesus and the dinosaurs he saved from pyramid-building servitude before they all drowned in the Great Flood that created the Grand Canyon that God purposely put there to tease people with so-called ‘fossils’ (and the closest thing America has to wizards, are homosexuality-obsessed televangelists who miraculously turn $1,000 donations into mega-corporate lifestyles and beholden congress-critters.)
You see for all its bluster and ‘blocking’, America can’t get over its traumatic childhood of parental rejection (Mother England always liked India more than America, and then it adopted all those African kids!) and consequent rebellion, only to discover it still needed its parent’s help (in the form of the industrial revolution) to succeed (and to have the type of nice furniture and crockery that constantly crops-up on Antiques Roadshow).
Americans have also always aspired to live glamorous lives that are better than anyone else’s (in part to impress the Imperial parent of their dim memory of national childhood) and in the desperate belief that anything is possible (such as gays causing hurricanes, the health benefits of carbon-dioxide and that they actually have a personal doctor whom they can pester about prescriptions for ailments an advertising account executive has told them they probably have), and thus they are able to believe and indeed need and subconsciously prefer to believe that by projecting themselves through the time-saving and effort-relieving features of media-appliances and through the authority of generally good looking people who have nothing more significant or productive to do than to exhort people to believe that their interests and the common interests are one and the same and entirely worth the rapt attention and implied participation of all, so that by mere emotional association the average American can vicariously live the American Dream of the easiest acquisition of wealth, social superiority and fame that reality can no longer provide (just as the chance of personal YouTube fame has dimmed with the competition of every idiot in the world who has a camera posting a video of themselves being an idiot, or of their cat.)
Thus although the media’s depiction of and projection-of enthusiasm for the Royal Wedding is significantly manufactured, the event still holds a genuine appeal for the majority of Americans who don’t actually have any more genuine antipathy towards monarchy than they have interest and enthusiasm for republican governance and politics (if the majority of Americans were really staunch republicans then more people would consistently show up to vote and political dynasties like the Kennedys, the Bushes and now emergent Pauls—Ron and Rand—would get the cold shoulder instead of being given attention and status by virtue of what amounts to political primogeniture.
There really is nothing weird at all about Americans momentarily, publicly admiring the institution of the British monarchy (and not-so secretly admiring it the rest of the time) that they apparently so roundly rejected in revolution and in the writing of the Constitution because all America really ever wanted was to emulate and acquire the better and more desirable qualities of its parent, paramount of which is the legitimacy and sense of security that comes with the physical and social representation of a thousand years of unbroken history, the acquisition of oodles of dosh (that means “piles of money” in the Queen’s English) and the permission, nay the right, to unabashedly show-off in the style to which one would like to become accustomed—really, what could be more American than that?