William & Kate wedding: Most Americans won't tune in

Most Americans aren't enthralled by the royal wedding. Rather than get up at 4 a.m. to watch, they're more likely to be interested in what Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert have to say.

Tim Hales/AP
Prince William and Kate Middleton arrive at Witton Country Park, Darwen, England, April 11. The full list of confirmed guests attending the royal wedding was released Saturday. Soccer star David Beckham and his wife Victoria were among the most recognizable names. Royal family members from countries including Bahrain, Denmark, Spain, and Morocco will also attend.

Mrs. Ross Hunt uses expletives to describe massive, global interest in the royal wedding. An American who left communist Prague 40 years ago, she will not be among the projected two billion worldwide television audience on April 29 to witness the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

She is evidence, say media watchers and sociologists, that Americans are looking at the royal wedding through a different cultural lens than the British. When 750 million watched the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, it was the largest TV audience in history. But much has changed since then, especially on this side of the pond, they say.

“Today we look at this wedding with a more jaundiced eye,” says Debra Caruso, founder and head of DJC Communications, a New York-based media firm.

“More of us are waiting to see how Jon Stewart, David Letterman, and Stephen Colbert will frame the event,” she says. “We’re attracted to the negative. Will there be a slip-up? Will someone mouth words on camera that will make headlines? Guaranteed, the fashion ‘don’ts’ will make more news than the fashion ‘dos’.”

Additionally, the results of a recent PriceGrabber survey of 2,842 US online consumers show 95 percent of American respondents do not plan to attend or host a party to celebrate the wedding and 92 percent do not plan to purchase royal wedding commemorative merchandise.

Sitting in the lobby of her audio-video production shop in Studio City, Mrs. Hunt, a Czech émigré, is only too happy to explain why Caruso’s comment is true for her.

She is horrified by the “pomp and pompous behavior.”

“Kate and William would impress me if they had a nice, quiet normal wedding in a nice English church and then released a video of it around the world and sent the proceeds to Japanese tsunami-earthquake victims, or even East L.A.,” she says. “Do you know how much money they are spending just on security?”

Handed four magazines whose covers are splashed with photos of the royal couple, she scoffs at celebrity magazines which “glamorize what is not good for the children.”

“They have privileges, and education and valets and they don’t impress me one bit for having an incredible wedding which they didn’t pay or work for,” she says.

Still, she admits that British royals can do some good. “I idolized Princess Diana for harnessing her attention for the global cause of land mines.”

In a quieter moment she explains her own history of coming to America 40 years ago because of its history and a culture that rejects European royalty. She says the money, the audacity and privilege of royal families is something she wants nothing to do with because it corrupts the minds of those captivated by it. It also casts marriage in an impossible light.

For her, a “Prince Charming” is something that lives in your heart, and does not have a crown on his head.

After four decades as a professional photographer, she says the eight most precious photos in her life were taken by the $10 paid witness at her $49 wedding in 1971.

“My husband and I each sold our cars so we could get an apartment and we were crazy in love,” she remembers.

If oversaturation is one reason many Americans are turning away from the royal wedding, practicality is another.

Several entertainment news shows have given daily updates of cakes, designers, rings, hats, and other trivia for weeks. ABC devoted an entire episode of 20/20 to the wedding, and Lifetime channel aired the story of “Will and Kate,” starring two actors who uncannily resemble Kate Middleton and Prince William. T-Mobile has also aired a spoof commercial of the wedding using look-alikes for Elizabeth, Princes Phillip, William, Harry, and Ms. Middleton.

“Few Americans will rise at 4 in the morning to watch live video when the whole wedding and sideshow will be available after dawn on hundreds of outlets,” says media consultant Caruso.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.