Thursday, 25 July 2013

Babies and stuff

The Kingdom rejoices!

Yeah, so let's do this Royal Baby thing. The Lion King joke is already out of the way so I suppose I should also make that other trite remark that literally everyone has already got to before me: a WOMAN has had a BABY! Look at how newsworthy and profound this event isn't now that we've written it in generalisations! If we want to veer into seriousness we can pretend to care about the 367,000 other babies born on the same day, twenty-four thousand of whom will not live to see their fifth birthday. It's a relevant statistic when we're griping about not being able to watch "proper news" on telly for a couple of days, although of course most people using that statistic have never bothered to look it up before and it will not suddenly become inherently newsworthy once the Interesting Baby has left the front page. I have a degree in development now, I'm allowed to say pessimistic shit like that.

I'm also not going to talk about Kate's baby announcement dress choices or post-baby weight loss regime. I'm sure one day I will descend into despairing wails at tabloid sexism (I actually can't remember if I already have, to be honest) but today is not that day.

Happy people! With a baby! Actually maybe it is nicer when you say it like that. Simpler, anyway.
Now that's all out of the way, time for me to say something marginally more original. I was considering just filling up the rest of this post with graphic pictures of childbirth, but actually a google image search for "crowning baby" brought up a lot of pictures of prostrate headless women which were too similar to weird objectifying porn shots for me to want to stick them on this blog. Look it up on your own time if you must, you'll see what I mean. So I'll do the next best thing and talk about stories.

No matter how indifferent or opposed you may be to monarchy in the modern world, and how fervently you hope this child lives to see the British royal family abolished as heads of state (and I do hope for that day), it's hard not to feel slightly strange about the fact that Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge is... not the right gender for his own narrative. They changed the rules about women inheriting and everything! People are starting, in that slightly weird reinventing-the-wheel way, to think about kickass heroines being OK and possibly quite groundbreaking even though they have existed before! They had that film about Scotland which was about a girl and she could canonically be heir to the kingdom! Jane Austen will soon be on the tenner (not actually so relevant but whatevs)! So surely it is time for an awesome real life princess that our country can have mixed-to-positive feelings about for the forseeable future? No, Prince George (literally) did not get the memo on these things, and had the audacity to be born the wrong gender for storytellers and gamblers everywhere. For shame, he's not even called Diana!

Of course, it doesn't help that we were spoiled for dramatic voyeuristic stories just one generation before...

The fact that we had a "right gender" for this kid to be born as at all does drive home how much we think of famous people's lives as fiction. I'm a big fan of Hadley Freeman's theory on this, that our modern readings of the Royal Family and the Beckhams and Justin Bieber and Scarlett Johanssen (who, by the way, has cellulite at 27, indicating that her boyfriend is a sociopath for staying with her) (oh dear I said I wasn't going to descend into tabloid bashing and yet here we are) are functionally equivalent to Victorian serialised novels. Here is a little snippet about what these people are doing! Admire or deride them, and despair when you contrast their apparently exciting lives to your own miserable existence! Then, to add the modern twist, invent headcanons and write RL fics of your favourite celebrity characters getting married by Garfield the cat. When these are people you literally just know from pictures then there is no functional difference between Prince William and Harry Potter, except that one is significantly more likely to appear on a bank note one day.

Now that we live in the day of being able to tell the creators of our media in real time exactly how much we hate them for not doing exactly what we wanted, having a first born with the audacity to not be female like we all sort of expected is just inexcusable. It's not even like Victoria Beckham's fictionalised baby drama in which she had to keep having children until she had a daughter because it was so incredibly important for her to be able to dress up a small girl (I'm not saying her family planning choices weren't influenced by wanting a daughter, just that if you read any tabloids during the time she was having children, it probably didn't go down in the melodramatic way they had it happening). Nope, we're STUCK with princes forever now, and we will be FORCED to watch an entire generation of girls who will automatically have no desires except to marry into royalty, rather than having just one who was fortuitously born into it whilst everyone else has to envy her. This is not the season arc we wanted!

There is only one solution. First, try to stop feeling anything except vague human goodwill towards celebrity people. You have no idea who they are, and it honestly doesn't matter. Second, and this is important, fill the void in your life by watching Let's Play the Sims videos on Youtube. True, Sims aren't quite as quotable, and they do piss themselves more than the average IRL celebrity. But they probably still have more interesting lives than you, and it's better than worrying about the narrative implications of a 2 day old baby.

2 days 2 blogs! It's madness! Just 28 to go.