I’ve been thinking a lot about democracy and royalty.
Not in a super deep way.
It’s just that I’ve been living in a place previously infested with royals.
Oh and that wedding just happened.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about.
1. English Royals and their Media Embargo
Like many Aussies and Yanks, we were a bit puzzled and bemused in the lead up to this wedding. My feelings were essentially, “chuckle Silly royals actin’ important”.
However, I couldn’t help but feel uplifted watching the millions of cheering well-wishers united in the celebration of something so…lovely.
That was until I learned of the Royal media embargo.
The royal family issued an embargo prohibiting the use of any wedding footage being used in a satirical manner. Apparently, the monarchy was perturbed by an Australian satirical troupe called, The Chaser, who were set to air a (most likely) hilarious commentary over images of the event.
Clarence House, the body which oversees Prince Williams affairs, stated that the embargo is, “standard practice for these kinds of religious ceremonies to include a clause which restricts usage in drama, comedy, satirical, or similar entertainment programs.” Whatever. I think it’s some B.S. Why is this figurehead family allowed to restrict the free press?
By the way, you should check out some of what The Chaser’s have done. This is from a few years ago, but it’s still funny. This comedy troupe breaches security at the 2007 APEC summit with no credentials, and a man dressed as Osama. It’s hilarious and legitimately dangerous.
I suggest starting at 1:40.
If you have studied almost any other language, I’m sure you’ve had that moment where you come across the second person pronouns, and thought what the? A formal you? The ol’ Sie, Vous, Usted, Lei/Loro. The useless ones.
Well, using this formal second person is still a very important show of respect and deference around the world. We certainly hear this distinction a great deal in Germany. It hearkens back to the times of serfs, nobles and the seriousness of class etiquette. Nowadays, it’s for addressing older people and strangers. We all know that it’s polite to address your bf/gf’s parents as ‘Mr. and Mrs. So and So’ until you get the first name ok. But imagine having to wait for the ok to use informal language with them (and it sometimes takes a few years)!
So what ever happened to the formal you’s in English? I was curious about this undemocratic lingo, so I did a teeny weeny bit of research.
Long ago, English used Thee/Thou for informal(peasant) speech, and You/Ye for formal (reverential) speech. However, English speakers were never too rigid about these forms. I guess, they just wanted to copy the French who were the trendsetters for courtly etiquette. Now, I don’t know how true this explanation is, but allegedly centuries later the Quakers got a hold of this concept. You remember the Quakers? Radical egalitarian, religious group who shook a lot during prayers (purveyors of tasty hot cereal?). Quakers objected to this unseemly perpetuation of social hierarchy, so they began to use thee/thou indiscriminately. In response, Non-Quakers decided to drop thee/thou altogether for fear of being mistaken for one of those crazies.
So basically, formal/informal speech died because it became “uncool”. Nice.
3. Australia and America
PC and I hail from fiercely democratic societies. I really enjoy comparing the evolution of our nations. I love saying that we’re from the “New World”… it’s so much cooler. I often take for granted how revolutionary and frightening democracy appeared to 18th century Europeans.
Yet, despite beginning as forward thinking democracies, both Australia and the US retain these weird ties to that old world of nobility.
Did anyone catch this quote from Sheldon off the Big Bang Theory? “In the South, pre-adolescent children are forced through a process called Cotillion, which indoctrinates them with all the social graces and dance skills needed to function in eighteenth century Vienna.” So True. Seriously, why?
Of course, Australia is a member of that Commonwealth thing where they remain ceremonially tied to the English monarchy, and take a day off for the Queen’s birthday. ok…
Anyways, I’m just left wondering what place does all this royalty, nobility, aristocracy crap have in our world today?