God Save the Queen, or at least the monarchy

19 Apr

Today my blog got picked up on Freshly Pressed (“The best of 398,060 bloggers, 444,336 new posts, 429,604 comments, & 109,230,100 words posted today on WordPress.com.”) and featured on the front page of WordPress.  I had no idea that this had happened until I logged in to check my stats for the day (I usually get about 40 hits/day) and saw that I had over 1700 hits as well as a bunch of comments awaiting moderation.  Now I feel internet famous.  Obviously, this puts a lot of pressure on this next post…

Before my newfound fame and fortune (I made $75 for participating in a market research study today.  That counts, right?), I was going to write about the Royal Wedding and how we as Americans are “above it”, but obsessed anyway.  And how we as feminists are “beyond it”, but obsessed anyway.  (Although I’m going to duck away and obsessively hit refresh on my stats every few minutes, I’ve decided to stick with the topic.)  I’ve seen so much coverage from people who “don’t care” about the wedding, but keeping writing about it.  Really, I think I’ve seen more articles from “disinterested” writers than from those that actually own up to caring.  I’ll come clean from the start and say that I, personally, am stoked about the wedding.  I’ll be on vacation with my Mom on the 29th and plan on forcing her to wake up ridiculously early to watch it with me.  (By the way, Harry Potter’s riddikulus spell has completely ruined my ability to spell ridiculous or any version thereof.  Thank God for Spell Check.)

In “Beware the In-Laws”, Slate’s Christopher Hitchens spends most of the piece talking about how the royal family is an irrelevant (“A hereditary monarch, observed Thomas Paine, is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary doctor or mathematician. But try pointing this out when everybody is seemingly moist with excitement about the cake plans and gown schemes of the constitutional absurdity’s designated mother-to-be.”) and outmoded (“Together, Margaret and Charles set the tone for the dowdy, feckless, can’t-stay-married shower of titled descendants with whose names, let alone doings, it is near-impossible to keep up.”) institution.  But, Mr. Hitchens, if they’re so irrelevant, why are you writing about them?  To write a 1,000 word piece on a subject (Thank God for Word Count), I assume you have to care at least a little.  (No, things written for eHow don’t count.)  I love Slate, but I realize that its pretty guilty of creating search engine bait articles.  So, clearly someone at Slate thinks that their readers (or at least the Internet hoi polloi) care, too.

Bitch Magazine’s blog has a whole series (The Wedding March – unfortunately the series isn’t linkable, but their all linked off here) on the topic throughout which they make all kinds of snipes about the royals (Ex. “Prince William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, was an illustration of what happens when the fairytale ending fails to satisfy” and “Now that tuition fees have rocketed, fewer people from underprivileged backgrounds can afford university, and the much-vaunted social inclusion that allowed a girl from a reasonably well-off family to meet and marry a boy from an incredibly well-off (if deeply dysfunctional) family is at an end”).  Although I’m not too pleased with the series overall, I really liked one part of the last post:

“So is this wedding just the last hurrah, a decaying institution relishing its final moments of cultural relevance, or does the Windsor-Middleton union herald a renewed love of all things regal?”

As an American (and a feminist), I think I’m supposed to hope for the former.  But, I love the majesty of the whole thing.  Maybe it’s because I’m an American, but I’m fascinated by the pageantry, the history, and the drama of it all.  I loved my British history classes and have even been known to read a Phillipa Gregory novel or two.  (Don’t judge.)  The history of the British monarchy is a great story and I don’t want it to come to an end.  I know that it’s a story that’s jumped the shark a few times and that none of the original cast of characters (or even any direct decedents thereof) remains, but I still love it.  At this point, it’s kind of like a really bad soap opera.

Yes, I recognize that comparing the House of Windsor to a bad soap opera is a terrible defense of the institution.  (Hey, it’s the same reason that I enjoy Sara Palin’s personal brand of crazy and I stand behind that strange fascination, too.)  But, actually, I think the pageantry of the royals has social value in and of itself.  Because we lack royalty in America, we focus on the first family and the perpetual first family, The Kennedys.  (They are called America’s Royalty for a reason.)  We follow the President on his vacations and comment on all of the First Lady’s dresses.  Think how much time and effort the White House must spend dealing with our entertainment.  It’s not really how I want the President and his staff spending their time.  I want them fixing the economy and getting us a budget, not worrying about the politics of the First Lady’s dress choice.

Having a monarchy takes this pressure off British politicians and let’s them focus on work.  One of my friends from college (of course I forget who), suggested that we instate an American monarchy.  It would have no power and would serves purely as paparazzi fodder.  It would provide people to attend ceremonial functions and ribbon cuttings so that the President could work on work.  Watching (okay, reading) the Royal Wedding coverage, I’m thinking that this is a pretty great idea.


MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new in the world of Internet culture. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration. My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on Freshly Pressed, bringing a while new readership to my blog. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

5 Responses to “God Save the Queen, or at least the monarchy”

  1. The Water is Deep April 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I just started Blogging about a year ago and rarely have the attention span to read most blogs through to the end. Until I saw yours on Freshly Pressed today! :0)

    • Maggie April 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

      Thanks! Sometimes I worry that I’m rather long winded and could do with an editor.

  2. Beeemiss April 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    I watched Barbara Walters’ 20/20 special last night- “The Royal Wedding: Will and Kate’s Modern Fairytale” and boy, was I disgustingly intrigued.

    I’ve always wanted to be a princess, but I was never particularly interested in the British Monarch; one of the sole surviving establishments of Royalty (or at least we Americans know about, anyway).

    Barbara’s beautifully eloquent narration had me captivated (and obsessed, as you call it) with the dramatics of their rubber band relationship and the “Soap Opera” of the Windsor ancestry.

    I doubt, however, that we could call it a Soap Opera unless the public demanded they know what was going on behind the palace walls. Of course, we can thank people like Barbara Walters for making it possible. I don’t want to say one or the other is to blame, rather its a vicious cycle of supply and demand. The media made it available, and then the audience wanted more. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure the romances would repeatedly end up in the toilet without a little encouragement of bold ink on papyrus.

    Johann Hari argues that out of the 290 million dollars a year pulled from tax payers to support the whole show, all there is to be shown are the 83 personal servants to carry the Queen (remember that dress must weigh at least 40 pounds with all the petticoats) and an underdeveloped ability to squeeze toothpaste on Prince Charles’ accord.

    Of course, can we say that we do any better? Sure, we Americans can be proud that our President came from a humble background, but is there any less of a show? It would be hard to argue that Michelle Obama’s primary duty isn’t to be smartly dressed in J. Crew.

    And at least they KNOW where their tax dollars are going; and at a measly dollar per person per year to “sustain this extraordinary institution,” says William Shawcross. I doubt that the majority of Americans even pay attention to what their paying for, let alone can actually say they read the off-kelter, less hegemonic news that provides a more aware, keen sense of agency.

    I agree, God save the Monarchy! I think we can only Hope that we touch the same prestige and duty as they. (Maybe that’s why my boyfriend is British)!

  3. Joe April 20, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Long live the Royals !!!

  4. georgettesullins April 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    A supervisor of mine once said “Everyone pays attention to what everyone is paying attention to.” On April 29, I will be paying attention and getting up early, early to view this wedding just as I did with my two mo. old 30 yrs. ago in July of ’81. I agree with you, “I’m fascinated by the pageantry, the history, and the drama of it all.” Isn’t it about style? a sense of style? We want to know how this new generation handles the old and pulls it off engaging many corners of its audience. I want to see what changes, what endures and what prevails.

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