Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Kettle? Pot On Line Three

Let’s get this first thing straight: I am of English descent – a first-generation American, and for those who knew my Dad, you know that he was not exactly the average Brit, considering he took me to my first baseball game, among other accomplishments not usually ascribed to the nation of stiff upper lips.

As such, I believe I am well-positioned to make comment about two things: the upcoming Royal Wedding and comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s recent remarks about it.

Seinfeld was not charitable toward the royal wedding or the royal family. While Seinfeld was a guest on the UK television show “Daybreak”, promoting his upcoming standup comedy performance in London, interviewer Adrian Chiles asked him about the upcoming Big Event. Seinfeld shot back, “Yes, I’m very excited.”

He went on to describe the royal wedding as “a circus act,” and mockingly suggested that everyone pretend that the royal family were “special people”. That’s what theater is, he said. “That’s why the British have the greatest theater in the world. They love to dress up and they love to play pretend. … it’s fake outfits, fake phony hats and gowns.”

He concluded by saying, “It’s fantastic. We don’t have anything like that.”

My heavens. Mr. Seinfeld needs to watch for flying shards of glass when he chucks those rocks from his translucent house.

Chiles, the possible UK television equivalent of Matt Lauer, “Was Not Amused!” by Seinfeld’s opinion, remarking on-air, “I’ll join in on any of that [royal wedding] stuff, if it’s a Brit doing it. But I can’t bear Americans criticizing the royal family.”

Chiles is right, but not necessarily because Seinfeld is an American. British comics, entertainers and citizens generally have always taken their own shots at American institutions, and more than occasionally they have been not only right, but genuinely funny about it. Seinfeld may have been right, or maybe not, but he wasn’t funny (if that’s what he was going for) and he was the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. Of all the people to be beating on anyone for offering up over-the-top showmanship! Here’s the fellow who has been to nearly countless Emmy Awards shows in support of a sitcom which he himself loved to describe as “being about nothing”. If American awards shows don’t count as playing dress-up, with fake outfits and phony hats and gowns, and fascinatingly over-the-top pomp and ceremony devoted to celebrating the Best Supporting Actor In A Hardly Noticeable Role, I’m not sure what does.

So, as the son of an Englishman who also raised a single eyebrow in the direction of the royals and their trappings (he came from the Midlands, not awfully far from well-grounded places like Liverpool), I consider myself qualified to suggest further:

Think whatever you like about any particular royal family. As is the case with any family, royal or not, the longer you hang out within a family, the more you’re aware of the quirks, idiosyncrasies, dysfunction, and interest in ruling a world-spanning empire. (All right, that last characteristic isn’t always there; I made that up. Sort of.) Clearly, the House of Windsor has all kinds of all that. At least the first three; I think they must have given up on the reality of the fourth characteristic by now, whether or not MI-5 still exists.

Set aside, please, for the moment, the deserved aggravation with the British government of all those nations which were involuntarily part of the British Empire, upon whom the British government tended to look down for so long. And also temporarily set aside the reality that the British monarchy could be using all the money they’ll spend on the upcoming wedding to help, oh I don’t know, feed the poor etc etc etc. So could the American media, which are committing enough personnel and resources to covering this event that they could probably re-stage the invasion of Normandy if they turned east at Dover.

But have you seen a British royal wedding? Have you heard any piece of music written for one of them, or for a coronation of someone to the British throne? Alternatively, have you seen or heard the Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve, from Westminster Cathedral? (Monty Python’s “Armaments, Chapter Two, verses nine to twenty-one” bit is as funny as it is because it’s accurate, but also because there’s substance to the subject it’s going after.)

The English know how to do pomp and ceremony. With due respect to, oh, every other government and institution in the world ever, there is nothing at all like the English firing up their “we are not amused!” stiff-upper-lip hyper-dignity and having at it. (Give or take the Queen Mother’s hat-oriented attempts to inject some lighthearted goofy into things).

So, about those within the American entertainment industry, of all people anywhere to be making sarcastic cracks about putting on big pretend dress-up events, I utilize Mr. Seinfeld’s own words: “Who are these people?!”


April 16, 2011 - Posted by | celebrity, entertainment, Famous Persons, government, media, television | , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Great observations! I think that Monty Python would be a better observer of the latest royal attempt at marriage than Seinfeld.

    Comment by joe mccoy | April 16, 2011 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: