The XX Factor

Will William and Kate Be Just Another Celebrity Couple?

KJ, like you I don’t have strong feelings for or against watching the royal wedding, although I certainly don’t consider it must-see television. I have to admit however that I was pleased to see the latest New York Times /CBS News Poll results that found American interest in the upcoming nuptials lacking and that folks on both sides of the pond are already tired of all the media frenzy over the wedding . The results were encouraging considering the level of celebrity worship we have in our culture, especially among teenage girls and young women. And it’s the celebrity worship part that made me wonder about these mothers who planned to watch the wedding with their daughters.

On the one hand, the planned tea parties seem like harmless fun and a good opportunity to bond with their daughters, as one woman quoted in the Times article said:

“Watching this historical event live on television will be a special moment for mothers and their daughters to have some fun together,” she said. “Life can be so structured and serious at times; it’s nice to share a breakfast together celebrating women, friendships and tea parties.”

On the other hand some of the women spoke so breathlessly about the event that it gave me some pause about the larger message they were sending to their daughters.

Said one woman: “My mom said: ‘A fairy tale is just a story, but princesses are real. Princess Diana ’s wedding is part of our history.’ It sort of stuck with me, the idea that a storybook character could be a real person. Hearing my mom say that to me didn’t shatter the illusion; instead it made me so much more fascinated by history and possibilities.”

Really? Diana Spencer was most certainly a princess and a real person, but her life was more sad soap opera than fairy tale and it was not a part of “our history.” If anything it should have shattered all illusion about the British monarchy and how the royals live. As for the “possibilities,” I have no idea what she was referring to. The possibility of marrying a boring older prince who makes clear even before the honeymoon is over that he’s just not that into you and then subsequently cheats on you?

The way I see it, William and Kate are sort of like Brad and Angelina, albeit minus the brood of kids, the ex-spouses, and the steady stream of rumors about their mutual philandering , or a host of other beautiful Hollywood couples that have captured the public’s fascination mostly for being rich, good-looking, and well-connected. To their credit, Angelina and Brad have used their fame and money to draw attention to larger and more important issues, such as poverty in developing countries, and I suppose Kate and William will advocate for their own causes too. I just hope that the young women who become their fans after the wedding pay more attention to the issues they promote and less attention to the daily ups and downs of their lives.