As the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle closes in on us, like a train moving so slowly that you can smell the mustard stains on the engineer’s overalls, it’s a pointless exercise to jump on the overloaded “Who Gives a Shit?” caboose. Not one of my friends seems to care. I haven’t had any Royal Marriage conversations with anyone, not even small talk with strangers encountered in an elevator.
So why is it dominating the news?
I’m told it’s because an heir to the British throne has once again chosen to marry what is commonly referred to in England as “a commoner.” But not a mere commoner. As I read in one news report, Markle is a “major celebrity.” With the added spice of she’s divorced. And of mixed race. And there was apparently some sort of family drama as to whether her father was going to England for the wedding.
At the hotel where I’m staying this morning, I picked up a free copy of the USA Today pamphlet, which is now so small that it’s delivered in bundles strapped to the backs of mice. As usual, it is divided into News and Self-Inflating Opinion, Money, Sports and Lifestyle. Four conveniently apportioned sections: In the editor’s world, there are never more natural disasters and wars to be reported on than there are movies to be reviewed.
All four sections had one or more stories on the Royal Wedding.
Yes, even Sports.
War and crime are always in good supply. So in order to achieve the correct balance in news content, editors are in perpetual need of fresh celebrities. Markle is a “major celebrity” because – and I had to Google this – she is “a humanitarian activist and former American actress.”
Those probably aren’t Markle’s words, so I’m not blaming her. I just want to point out that I have many friends who are humanitarian activists. They donate money to important causes, they volunteer at Planned Parenthood or organizations that work with immigrants, they build churches in Haiti. I don’t think any of these friends has ever introduced themselves as a humanitarian activist. Humanitarian activist isn’t a job title, like architect. It’s something you do. My friends are regular people doing the right thing on a world of hurt.
A “major celebrity?” If Markle has a sense of humor, and a proper level of self deprecation, perhaps she herself laughs at that description. I see she was in a television series called Suits, and the films Remember Me and Horrible Bosses. Like most Americans, I’ve never seen them. No matter how popular your TV show may be, no matter how many theaters may be playing your film, most Americans have not seen your work.
So what, then, is a “major celebrity?” LeBron James is a major celebrity. Serena Williams is a major celebrity. Stormy Daniels is a major celebrity. Longevity, success and circumstances make you a major celebrity. Who are Sutton Foster, Jameela Jamil, Ryan Reynolds, Chris Pratt, Justin Hartley, Channing Tatum, Seann William Scott and Zach Woods? Breeze passing through the internet. I wouldn’t know any of them if they were sitting next to me at the Oscars. But according to the news web site I’m looking at right now, they’re all newsworthy actors, each apparently a major celebrity since they all have résumés equal to, or greater than, Meghan Markle.
If you’re fascinated by the fact that Markle is divorced, you’re unaware that half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. If you’re surprised that Markle is of mixed-race parentage, you haven’t seen any breakfast cereal commercials. And if you’re breathless over which dysfunctional family member may not show up at the Royal Wedding, then your own family is absurdly well grounded.
These major celebrities didn’t invent a life-saving heart procedure or kill a baby seal. They’re media-generated content whose job is to fill a vacuum detected by the gatekeepers who were caught without a press release from the Kardashians’ publicist that day.
Our world perspective is a cracked lens. Prince Harry is a major celebrity. The media has made him so. But he is not a major world figure. I had to look this up: As heir to the British throne, he is fourth in line. Behind a 4-year-old kid.
BE THE FIRST in your neighborhood to know when a new Critical Mass has been turned loose. Go to the “Subscribe” button on the web site jeffspevak.com for an email alert. You can contact me at email@example.com.