I have to admit that the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is exerting a strange attraction over me. It's not that I have any interest in either William or Kate themselves, nor do I have any strong pro- or anti- monarchy feelings. (Shocking, I know; I've been told by many people that I should have, in that I'm Scottish - apparently, that means that I have to be strongly anti-monarchy - but I really don't. Sorry, everyone.) No, what is weirdly fascinating to me is the size of the whole thing. Two billion people are expected to tune into the live broadcast on Friday. Two billion people. Isn't that the kind of thing that we should be paying attention to?
I don't necessarily mean that in the sense of 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't be Wrong, because - well, yes, they can; quality has never been defined by mob rule, after all. But nonetheless, when so many people are interested in something, when so much time and attention and thought has been spent on something, doesn't that mean that we should at least pay some level of attention to it?
The Bugle, the podcast from Daily Show correspondent John Oliver and British comedian Andy Zaltzman, has been taking full advantage of the insanity surrounding the preparation for the event itself with the most recent episode satirizing the amount of attention it's been getting, and tweets announcing new details like "PRE-NUPDATE: Kate Middleton reportedly insists on 'no beheading' clause in pre-nup contract. William: 'No deal. She has to earn her head.'" And that kind of attitude is, I think, entirely fair; there's an insane level of overkill from broadcasters surrounding the event, with over 40 stand-alone studios being constructed in a specially-constructed "media zone" alone, that needs cutting off at the knees and being put into context, after all. But it doesn't necessarily answer the question of why people are watching it.
It's so tempting to say that this is a chicken and the egg thing, isn't it? So much attention is being lavished on this event because so many people want to watch it, because so much attention is being lavished on it and and and, in a circle forever. But that's not actually true, of course; people want to watch this because it's a "happy ending." It's good news for once, at a time when there's not too much of that around - Well, aside from that adorable baby liger video that was going around yesterday - and, all the better for the broadcasters, it's scheduled good news. Which is... great, right? I mean, who hates good news? Who doesn't want to see more happiness in the world, right? (Okay, aside from all the haters, but they don't count because... well, they're haters) Everyone wins!
Well, unless Kate jilts Wills at the altar. But that's when journalists are glad they're there for an entirely more cynical reason.