Last night my exasperated 17-year-old daughter asked me, “Why is everyone making such a big deal about this wedding? I mean, it's just two people getting married – who cares?”
Her question took me right back to 1981. That was the year Reagan was sworn in as President, AIDS was first diagnosed, and the first space shuttle was launched – but everything else took a back seat to the “fairytale wedding” of Prince William's parents, Charles and Diana.
Now that was a media frenzy.
Why do people make such a fuss out of royal weddings? Well, one reason, of course, is that journalists hammer relentlessly on anything sensational enough to sell newspapers, magazines or air time. They don't care if something is romantic or horrific as long as it's interesting, and they'll publish any snippets of news, criticism or speculation that will keep their audience coming back. That's Economics 101.
People love pomp and ceremony, and it's hard to imagine anything more rife with custom than an occasion that combines royalty, romance and religion. A royal wedding rolls up Camelot with Sleeping Beauty, spreads the Archbishop of Canterbury on top and sprinkles everything liberally with golden fairy dust.
There's a little bit of horrified fascination in the mix, too. After all, we know how hard it was to plan our own weddings, and what kinds of things went wrong; if it was embarrassing to us to step on our cathedral-length veil and yank it half off our own head during our processional, how much worse would it be to do that if you were being watched by basically every sentient being on the planet? (This is also the basic principle behind the popularity of NASCAR.)
However, I think people are interested in royal weddings for the same reason they're interested in common weddings: hope. Yes, we all know the divorce statistics, and we know that the storybooks glossed right over quarrels about closet space, PMS and dirty diapers. Still, for that brief, shining moment, the prince and the princess have found one another. Faces beam as they promise the world to love and honor one another, and it's perfectly possible that they will live “happily ever after.” We can believe that True Love will always conquer all. Who doesn't want to see that?
Now, will someone please explain to me why anyone watches the Oscars??