Royal wedding overcoverage: The world media's love letter to the female audience, with Perez Hilton
Have you thought about what may happen if terrorists attack Friday's wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in England?
Or where Middleton's gown will fall in the record of British matrimonial history? Surely, you've heard how the royal wedding planners have blocked tweeting from the immediate area of the wedding?
Yes, you're in the middle of serious royal wedding overload, as the world's media focuses on an event that, in some circles, has been a topic of conversation and speculation for months.
It's the kind of spectacle modern media is increasingly unable to resist: a world-famous event sure to appeal to a specific, solid audience. In this case, women old enough to remember the 1981 wedding of the young prince's parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
But, as you might expect in today's fragmented media culture, if there is a large contingent of people who care about this ceremony, there is an even larger pool of people who don't (according to the Pew Research Center, about 19 percent of Americans plan to watch the wedding, but 34 percent of women over age 50 will check it out).
And they can be pretty vocal about seeing 8,000 journalists descend on a wedding so tightly controlled, no one even knows what the bride's dress looks like, yet.
I wrote a story for the front page of Wednesday's newspaper dissecting the ideas behind some of the smotherage, noting that polls reveal one-third of women under 40 are at least somewhat interested in this event. They'd better be: Everyone from the major broadcast and cable newschannels to TLC and Telemundo is planning live coverage of the nuptials, usually beginning sometime around 4 a.m.
I'll be live Tweeting, Facebooking and blogging on the coverage at that time tomorrow, acting as your snarky, informed TV companion while this bloated mess of media hype finally hits the airwaves. Stop by and we'll hoist a cyberspatial cup of joe together.
The reason for all this sometherage is simple: The western world's preoccupation with fairytale romance has met its closest real-life example, blended with American television's hunger to satisfy its most solid constituency. Older female viewers have made media gods of everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Barbara Walters, and now every outlet even tangentially connected to that demographic is trying to work a royal wedding connection into their broadcasts Friday (yes, TCM is airing the 1951 Fred Astaire movie Royal Wedding).
So, if you're annoyed by what's led up to all this, I suggest sleeping in late and an early morning screening of Fast Five. Otherwise, you've got an orgy of sentimental speculation coming, as commentators across the world the symbolic heirs of a powerless monarchy try to break the royals' recent history of dysfunctional marriage and public scandal.
No wonder cybergossip Perez Hilton is getting a piece of this action, hosting a special with Celebrity Apprentice star NeNe Leakes, Will + Kate = Forever, airing on the Wedding Channel at 7 p.m. Friday.
I emailed some question to Hilton for my newspaper story, but he got back to me too late for inclusion. So here's his words, reprinted here for you edification. I believe his answer capture the tone of the coverage so far:
Why do Americans care so much about this wedding? They're not our monarchs and we're not exactly looking for royalty in our own country...
We don't care that much. But, if the whole world is going to be watching, we don't want to be left out!
With so many media outlets covering this event, what can you bring that's special?
Besides my dazzling good looks? Well, I bring ME to the table - and Nene Leaks too! Oh, and you won't believe what I'm gonna wear!
How should fans watch the wedding -- besides watching your TV stuff, of course!
They shouldn't watch it. It's happening way too early on U.S. time. Just watch my wedding special!
What will you be looking for as you watch the wedding? What will you be looking for in coverage?
I will be looking for who wore what and excited to see the performances. In terms of coverage, I will only watch my own!
Given the dysfunction of the Diana/Charles marriage and Sarah Ferguson's recent travails, does this feel like a bit of do-over for the royal family -- a chance to show the world a grand, fairytale wedding?
Well, this wedding will be grand, but decidedly less opulent than the wedding of Charles and Diana. This will be a good reminder that the British royal family is still the most storied in the world - and relevant!
With all the serious things going on in the world should so much media be devoted to this?
Better this than more Lindsay Lohan coverage! Besides, people love weddings and babies!
Are we paying attention to this, in part, because media outlets are telling us to pay attention?