There's a handy GOOD flow-chart making the rounds of the Twitterverse at the moment, the lesson of which is that only a nihilist would care about the Royal Wedding. This is because, I gather, it is impossible to care about one's family, one's national politics, and one's suffering world while simultaneously having a bit of interest in the revival of the wedding hat.
Yet my entire adult life would disprove this. I read voraciously about climate change and budget deficits each day; I also make time to talk to my family. And often, in between these pursuits, I click over to see what the craziest HuffPo-approved rumor of the day is about Kate Middleton's wedding gown (she designed it herself! It's made from calves' livers! She'll wear Bjork's swan dress!).
Here's why: There is a limit to the suffering I can take in during one day. This is the same reason that even the stolid old BBC has time to report on what's happening in football every single day; it's the reason that NPR devotes time to stories about Bullwinkle and The Fleet Foxes in between reports on the budget "crisis." There is a simple, human limit to the amount of disaster and suffering one can take before it blends together. And when tragedy after tragedy blends together, it's easy to care about nothing.
I know this condition well. Many of my friends, colleagues, and favorite online writers are professional unhappys. Their main forms of conversation involve a constant stream of rage, upset, disappointment, and disgruntlement. Every new tragedy is expected; every new scandal is only a reminder of the last; every new massacre was predictable, preventable, and utterly unsurprising. They care about everything with such equal vehemence that it's almost as though they care about nothing. The impression, at least, is the same: a stream of awful that ends up making the issuing of a signing statement by President Obama an "atrocity" akin to the civil war in Darfur.
Flickr: JeanM1 | CC License
For those of us who prefer to have a range of emotional responses, sometimes even within the same day, a celebration like the Royal Wedding shouldn't be ignored. It provides a perfect pendulum swing away from all that is terrible and frightening in the news. In so doing, it allows us not only to take a glimpse at a More Perfect Life -- a life of fairy-tale ideas, of high pageantry and low-end gossip -- but also to realize that, perhaps, a world that can still manage to care about such trivial things as who a prince might marry isn't, perhaps, so hopelessly cynical that we're beyond reason.
I'll go one better than that, though, and say this: I don't even believe the Royal Wedding should be scaled back to match the times. I don't think Prince William and Kate Middleton should be getting married quietly in store-bought clothes with a box cake. To say that they should is also to say that Kenneth Brannagh should back off of making fabulous Marvel movies because that money could be better spent elsewhere; networks should show nothing but news, all the time, because dramatic and comedic television takes away from time that could be used to explain and cover major national events; books, in fact, should be only non-fiction, and only on topics of seriousness, and the editors of GOOD magazine should be allowed to decide what is serious enough to be covered.
In short, to think of the Royal Wedding as anything other than an entertaining spectacle is to think of it incorrectly. It's not a matter of national interest except that nearly half of a rather powerful nation is interested, keenly, in seeing how it goes. It's a cheering charm in the middle of a thunderstorm. It's the season finale of "LOST" for those of us who wonder about the mystery of the wedding hat. I'm tired of being told I'm unserious for sometimes liking -- sometimes needing to like -- unserious things.
So haters, let it be. Let me watch in peace. If you have to sort through a few royal headlines to make it to the sad news for a day or two, well, life's tough all over.