This week offered another example of why I’m glad to no longer have a daily radio show.
If I did, I would have had to talk about Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which drew a lot of viewers Sunday night and quite a bit of buzz Monday morning. I used to pay attention to made-for-TV events like that because I knew that many of my listeners watched and had opinions they wanted to share about them.
That wasn’t a problem if I cared about the subject matter. But through the years, doing my job meant having to sit through trash like Paris Hilton’s reality show, “The Simple Life,” Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell on “Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire,” and Geraldo Rivera’s “Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults.”
I didn’t give a damn about any of them, and I’ve never had any interest whatsoever about the British royal family (or any other, for that matter!). So, I haven’t even seen clips from the Harry-Meghan-Oprah show. I’ve also never watched “The Crown,” or read a tabloid story about “What Really Happened To Diana,” or found the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace all that compelling. Frankly, I didn’t even like Lorde’s song, “Royals,” all that much.
Moreover, I don’t understand why so many Americans are obsessed with them. Weren’t we supposed to be weaned from the royal teat after winning our independence from Britain more than 200 years ago? If we’re so proud of a system whose leadership isn’t decided by birthright, why care about any monarch or her offspring?
I also can’t stand the way little girls in this country are steered into princess culture. From a very early age, they are taught — by their parents and more than a few Disney movies — that being a princess is something special, a goal to strive for, a position to be revered. Nonsense. We should be teaching our daughters to achieve greatness on their own merits, not merely by being born into an exalted family or marrying some inbred progeny. That’s even more true when the position is entirely ceremonial, carrying no real responsiblities other than being coddled by finances drawn from the public coffers.
Why do we perpetuate these fantasies for females, but not for males? I don’t remember ever having a boy come to my door on Halloween dressed as a prince, a duke, a lord, or even a king. When I was young, none of my friends ever answered the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” by replying, “Royalty!”
If there were anyone on that CBS telecast Sunday night who should be emulated, it wasn’t the interviewees, but the interviewer. It may not be any more realistic to believe your daughter will grow up to be Oprah (who I have a lot of issues with, many of which I’ve written about before), but at least she became rich and powerful by working hard, climbing a career ladder, and not letting her skin color or out-of-the-ordinary name keep her from rising to the top.
That’s worth a lot more admiration than sticking a crown on someone’s head and proclaiming them special by virtue of their bloodline.