Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A marriage made in the media

Left-leaning though I may be politically, I'm not some Republican, anti-Monarchy, class war activist. I don't believe Britain should throw away the cultural trappings of history and pageantry lightly, especially when there does seem some genuine merit to the argument that they bring trade and tourism to Britain, and they have demonstrably increased giving to charities to which they've lent their patronage.

However. Today's announcement of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Whats-her-face is not what I call news. It's utterly drenched the media today, who have clearly had their pieces ready for some time in anticipation of the event we're all talking about. Well, they're talking about.

So the economic crisis, the compensation paid out to the Brits held without trial in Guantanamo Bay, all the various long-running genuine news stories (Darfur, Pakistan, Indonesia, Burma, just to name a few picked at random) have utterly disappeared into a morass of fawning, gushing, delighted news readers and reporters. They all seem to have put their best pearls on for the day, and can be seen grinning like Stepford Wives as the news that's being described as 'breaking' even at 9pm on the News Channel is repeated for the 43rd time today.

It's utterly, utterly meaningless. In what's already a story entirely constructed of fluff and fill, we've been blessed with the news that Esther Rantzen is 'delighted' (we can all sleep soundly in our beds knowing that), that Sophie Wessex is 'thrilled', and that Royal Crown Derby had been pre-prepping plates for the occasion for four years, among countless other inconsequentialities. I've even found out that Camilla Parker-Bowles is down with the kids, describing it as 'wicked'.

Surely, surely, most of us simply don't care, do we? The news that the Royal family has invited in a bit of common blood (surely a necessity as the Royals of Europe are so inter-bred that they must be in danger of sprouting extra limbs out of inconvenient places) would, in any society not utterly obsessed with celebrity, be relegated to a footnote after the actual news.

As they look back over the day's 'events' for the umpteenth time, I do wonder if some of the journalists responsible for regurgitating this over and over again wonder what happened to the news, dammit.

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