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August 29, 2015

TV 101: The Royal Wedding Is Coming ... Why Do We Care, Again?

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Apr 28th 2011 1:00PM
Prince William and Kate MiddletonYesterday, I overheard some random woman in line at the drug store say to her friend, "Let's call in sick on Friday and watch the Royal Wedding!" As she blathered on while coyly posing next to Time magazine's special royal wedding issue, I thought about the upcoming regal nuptials and why anyone outside of the royal family and a handful of jilted exes would even care that it's happening.

The concept of royalty is pretty fascinating if you really sit down and think about it, preferably over some scones. As archaic and absurd as monarchy is in our current cultural climate, it doesn't stop us from trying to construct our own hierarchy of arbitrary and meaningless power. We want the glitz and the glam of a royal family to gossip and obsess over -- so much so that we've created our own warped nobility out of people who have done nothing to deserve it: celebrities.

The Fairy-Tale Factor
As far as I know, kids are still raised on fairy tales, conjuring delusions of love, justice, and morality that most never have a chance of realizing -- all packaged and sold with an action figure and a lunchbox. The Wedding is a fairy tale come to life, played out in real time on TV: the grumpy old troll (Queen Elizabeth), the dashing prince (William), the hot commoner-turned-princess (Kate), the wicked step-thing (Camilla and Charles)! All it needs is a magic potion (Jagermeister) and a talking bear (Elton John) and you can DVR it and watch it with your kids on movie night.

The Legacy
In 1981, 750 million people watched Prince Charles marry well above where his looks could ever take him, and subsequently Princess Diana became the darling of the world. Television has changed quite a bit since then, and worldwide viewership for the William/Kate wedding is expected to be well into the billions. Presumably, most of the copious amounts of coverage -- beginning as early as 3AM on Friday -- will be dedicated to comparing the two ceremonies. It's rare that such a sterling opportunity to take cultural inventory arises -- a case study on cultural shifts and stasis.

William and KateReality TV
For the same shallow, escapist reasons that people "care" about Snooki or Jon or Kate or Plus 8, they will tune in to this event, hoping that something goes horribly wrong. If 'America's Funniest Home Videos' has taught me anything, it's that the odds of someone splitting their pants or falling into the cake are extremely high, and the chance of seeing Princess Kate nervously farting on the altar is enough to make even the slightest "reality" fan celebrate.

It's on TV
Like the annoying woman I mentioned earlier, most people are looking for any excuse to avoid their own petty, morbid lives. Excuses used to range from "my mother died" to "I have pneumonia," but now, people will skip work just to catch up on their back-log of DVRed 'Guiding Light' episodes. There aren't too many things the world should stop for: nuclear war, genocide, the McDonalds shamrock shake, but now that virtually everything is on TV, that list has grown.

Everyone expects to see an insane amount of gratuitous extravagance, like a wedding episode of 'Cribs' (I don't even know how that would work), but those expectations will be difficult to fulfill. It's a wedding after all, and weddings are essentially the same no matter where you go. I suppose it could humanize these people when we think about the Queen doing the Electric Slide, Kate getting pissed about that stupid glass clinking-kissing ritual, and Prince Harry's bawdy best man speech during which he somehow becomes shirtless.

Anyone who wants to voluntarily watch a wedding ceremony must have psychological issues bordering on sadism. I have a video of my wedding that you couldn't pay me to watch ... and I'm IN IT! I know everybody on that video, and it's torture. So the thought of watching a stranger's wedding, live, must indicate serious levels of self-hatred.

Personally, I will be watching to see how cleverly Elton John can manipulate the lyrics to "Candle in the Wind" for the occasion, and I am not ashamed to say it.

Why will you be watching William and Kate's wedding?

Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he's getting the party started. You can also check out his blog and find him on Facebook.

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Lilia Lord

extreme, the wedding already happened ,the most beautiful wedding ever'

June 01 2011 at 12:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Victoria Cagle

wow, someone's a bitter bitch. wanting to watch something that's joyful and gives other people hope does not make you a sadist.

April 29 2011 at 1:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

It's fun to watch a fairy tail wedding and dream. I love this fluff.

April 28 2011 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't give a F about over privilege white people who belong to a family who own a country for many decades.

April 28 2011 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to blatinotop4u's comment
Brennan White

Lol. They don't own the country and have very little political influence. I give you an "F", especially in grammar.

April 28 2011 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Last time I checked I was an American and this has absolutely nothing to do with me.

April 28 2011 at 1:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hey it is day off here in Britain so it is stopping for us

April 28 2011 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Some of us really couldn't care less.

April 28 2011 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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