Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Royal Marrying Of Celebrity Culture And Authoritarianism

By Steven Maclean, Dreaming Genius co-editor

Image by The K-Guy
While Friday's ultimate launch of the Endeavour space shuttle was postponed due to a last-minute technical failure, the royal wedding - or as I like to call it: massive twat convention - went without a glitch. I was hoping we could combine the two, and launch the royals into space, but science isn't as reliable as unearned hereditary status, so they will have to go on living on another planet in the metaphorical sense only.

Kate, after a brief spell of being Catherine, is now the Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, and Baroness of Carrickfergus, for no reason other than Cambridge, Strathearn and Carrickfergus are the kinds of nice places that deserve a Duchess, and if she were the Duchess of Slough, Staines or Luton, ordinary people from those places might wrongly mistake her for just another human being and hesitate to elevate her onto a platform of greater worth.

Television coverage of the pomp and ceremony was predictable. 'Analysts' offered pearls of wisdom like "she looks so regal", difficult to do when marrying a prince at Westminster Abbey, and "you can see they really care about each other", a rarity for people embarking on marriage. One particularly insightful expert on filling gaps in airtime with meaningless judgmental observations criticised Samantha Cameron for not wearing a hat, adding that it was a great shame as "she would make a great ambassador for hats". Presumably she could then meet with scarf and glove diplomats to ensure a colour-coded future of cooperation between clothing accessories. Kate's bridal gown was fawned over non-stop, with a plethora of shallow sycophants offering varying viscosities of materialistic bile. William's outfit - which made him look like a cross between Michael Jackson and a multicoloured Mr. Bean - received less scrutiny, and Prince Harry avoided a PR disaster by leaving his fancy dress outfits at home.

Had Harry donned his Nazi uniform he would have been in good company, or at least he would have if the royal family had gotten their way. The guest list included the King Mswati III of Swaziland, who knows a fair bit about weddings himself. King Mswati has thirteen wives, and marries a new one each year, picking his favourite from thousands of topless virgins. Also invited was Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain, who only declined after human rights activists planned to protest his attendance, and the Syrian ambassador Dr Sami Khiyami who was uninvited at the last minute after it turned out the guy he works for isn’t very nice.

For anyone who didn't know better, tuning into the sycophantic television coverage of the happy couple's unison in holy matrimony would leave them convinced of the public's unanimous approval. While flag waving children were shoved in-front of cameras to screech how it had been 'the best day of their lives', anyone with misgivings about the hegemonic zeitgeist of conformity were rounded up by the Met. Having taken an oath to ‘well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people’ police officers had already detained subjects of the Queen the previous day, including a 68-year-old university professor who was organising some dangerous street theatre. 

Suspiciously in-sync with the royal celebrations was a nation-wide crack down on squatters. Who do these lazy non-conformists think they are by expecting taxpayers to pay for their residence? Don't they know only the royal family get privileges like that?

The police were gloatingly pleased with how they manhandled the whole thing, saying in a press release that their performance ‘demonstrated the Met at its very best’. At their worst, of course, they baton people to death rather than merely restrict their democratic right to peaceful protest, so all in all they did do pretty well.

Some other things did happen on the same day, but they were largely unimportant in comparison. Tens of people were gunned down by a brutal regime in Syria, hundreds died when unprecedented tornados hit the USA, and around 70,000 other people died around the world as they do any other given day. All of this is trivial though, when two entirely unremarkable people are doing what thousands of other regular human beings do every single day. Incase you need proof the royal wedding deserved pride of place on the media mantelpiece of arse-lickery, I submit this commemorative pizza, along with the postulation that you won’t find one topped with depictions of genocide or obliterated suburban housing estates.

More than anything Friday's ritualistic celebration of excess, privilege, and celebrity culture was good value for money. So what if an extra national holiday was estimated by the Confederation of British Industry to have cost the economy £6bn? It isn't as if we're in the midst of a financial crisis. And what The Department for Culture clearly haven't factored into their estimation that the policing, stewards, decorations and expenses on media costed around £10m, was that we all got another opportunity to get royally pissed.

So was this grandiose spectacle of any worth whatsoever? Well actually, yes. Despite totally unfounded suggestions that William's choice to marry a 'commoner' is indicative of, or will encourage social mobility - as if aristocrats all over the country will now propose to the first bit of rough they lay their eyes on - his break from tradition could well signal a change for the better. It's no secret he has in the past shown a desire for change within the monarchy, and despite being raised in a perversely twisted dimension of reality, the prince (and his chosen bride) seem to actually be quite decent people. 

Republicans alive today might never see the abolition of the royal family we crave, but a prince who blames the 'traditional' media for the death of his mother, and has grown up in a time when new media has given him more access to the culture of his subjects than was ever possible for his forefathers, might just have the will and courage to reform it into something we can hate a little less.
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