Haven't we got anything better to do? - On the news, the monarchy and the royal baby

23 Jul 2013

The 24/7 rolling coverage of the Royal Baby appears to have left great swathes of the British population in a state of drooling buffoonery. Maybe I’m just being a stereotypically grumpy republican on this issue, but it greatly annoys me. Of all the news, of all things going on in the world right now – we focus on the birth of a child? Is this the second coming of Jesus? It’s not as if David Cameron is trying to regulate the internet or anything. No, a child was born into a family that are born to rule in a hereditary monarchy that we all seem to gleefully love despite it being unjust in every sense of the word. Perhaps, Christopher Hitchens had a point when he called the monarchy “Britain’s favourite fetish”.


The reason this issue angered me so is, not only due to my dislike of any hereditary monarchy system, but also because of the sheer amount of coverage it received. Well over ten headline articles on the Daily Mail website were about the Royal Baby, with articles as mundane and trivial as “First glimpse of the Royal baby? Designer creates morphed picture to show what Kate and William's son might look like” or this gem-  “At 8lbs 6oz the Royal Baby is the heaviest future king in 100 years”. Is the world so unexciting right now that we are exciting at the weight of a baby? Surely the news has got better things to report – I went on to the BBC, our proud state broadcaster, to find out. Much to my horror I found the article “Beyonce gets hair caught in fan” in the top ten most read articles, below various ones about the royal baby. An article about a British man getting stabbed in Crete came well below the article about a celebrity getting her hair caught in a household appliance. I weep for humanity. 

Bill Hicks once mused that television was making the population ignorant and dumb, saying: “Go back to bed, America. Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again. Here. Here's American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up. Go back to bed, America. Here is American Gladiators. Here is 56 channels of it!”Although I don’t agree with Bill intertwining how television is dumbing us down with a government conspiracy, he has a point. Television is just full of mundane things like a baby being born, or some trivial nonsense about a celebrity having some new hair style, where’s the politics? Where’s the substance? And the worst thing is, tripe like this covers various channels – even the History Channel now runs ‘historical’ documentaries like “Ancient Aliens”. But now it’s got to the news, our source of information – that’s why it disgusts me. 

Ultimately, I just feel that the news is being wasted on trivial things like this, which the British public appear to lap up. People camped outside Buckingham Palace for two weeks to hear the news about a child being born that would most likely not even be aware of their existence. It’s insane. But the coverage was also unbalanced in the media frenzy – no-one spoke to the pressure group Republic which advocates for the honourable cause of an elected head of state. For the BBC claiming to be a politically impartial broadcaster, they certainly do have a pro-Monarch bias. I dare say that we should do away with this Eighteenth-century institution, so the news can cover something interesting, as Thomas Paine once pointed out: “Government ought to be a thing always in full maturity. It ought to be so constructed as to be superior to all the accidents to which individual man is subject; and, therefore, hereditary succession, by being subject to them all, is the most irregular and imperfect of all the systems of government.”  Being a constitutional monarchy, we are half-way to becoming a full-blown Republic, now the monarchy holds little power – but I’d rather we do away with it all together, its undemocratic and inherently unfair. The first step is balancing news coverage to prevent Britain becoming a nation of servile morons whenever the monarchy does anything like… have a baby, or members of it get married. The 24/7 rolling coverage by almost every news channel and paper is eloquently summed up by the Private Eyes front page“Woman has Baby”  - you could literally cover what all the newspaper and channels were doing for 24 hours in three words. What a curious species we are. 

By Rory Claydon 


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