Archive for the ‘news’ Category

Royal Rebranding

May 7, 2011 - 11:40 am 7 Comments

Screen shot 2011-05-07 at 2.39.18 PMOn April 29, it was impossible to escape the Royal Wedding. Whether you witnessed this historical event live at 6:00am or relied on the magnitude of recaps to keep you well informed, William and Kate, or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they’re now formally known, were all anyone could talk about.

In this day and age, it’s hard for us to relate to the monarchy, an institution that seems so far removed from life as we know it. Better yet, the monarchy reminds us of the historical lessons learned in school or fairy tales where the prince and his princess live happily ever after. For Americans especially, monarchical rule was an institution of the past, boldly abolished in 1776 with our Declaration of Independence. We’ve moved on without looking back; but sometimes we forget that across the Atlantic, that traditional form of leadership still exists.

And it does. Last Friday we got a glimpse into the sheer grandeur of what the monarchy embodies. It’s not like visiting Versailles or the Tower of London where everything’s stagnant and behind glass. 200-year-old breastplates that took many hours each of polishing were on display right in front of our very eyes – and on soldiers no less. Prince Charles and Camilla traveled in an Australian State Coach, which we’d normally figure would be collecting dust in a museum. Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace were brought to life with hordes of supportive Brits, cheering jovially for the union of two beautiful young people – the future of the monarchy. No, the monarchy was very real that day for everyone across the globe.

As Americans, we can’t help but react to the concept of a monarchy in one of two ways; we either view it as outdated, a relic of the past, or we romanticize the very essence of it, generating this fantasy which has no bearing on reality. In many ways, these preconceived notions were corrected while watching the Royal Wedding. More than being merely accessible and imaginable for us (considering that those privileged to the inner-workings of the institution are very limited), the monarchy was revitalized. The royals seemed like real people, very much in love. Their demeanor was entirely relatable from Kate’s slightly nervous smile as she made her way down the aisle to Will’s whisper, “You’re beautiful” once she stood beside him at the alter. And Kate’s reaction, “Oh wow,” when she stepped out on the balcony and beheld the crowd of supporters? Exactly what we all would’ve done.

Despite the resplendent setting and décor, the overall feeling was very young and fresh – the hopeful endeavor of a new beginning marked by contemporary royals, especially Kate Middleton. On her special day, she was luminous in her simplicity and perhaps all the more loved for it. Instead of hiding behind a massive bouquet and a poufy creampuff of a dress (sorry, Diana!), Kate was herself – very down to earth and radiant as ever. Certainly a paradigm shift when it comes to the royals presenting themselves to their public.

William and Kate’s wedding was essentially a rebranding of the monarchy. It was the perfect occasion to showcase the traditional opulence of the institution, but with a twist – that twist being the young amorous royals who rejuvenated the affair. In many ways, it reminded us that the monarchy is not ingrained in the past but has a clear, positive future lying ahead. Through William and Kate, we begin to perceive the monarchy’s ability to relate to its people and embrace the changing times.

Do Americans Sensationalize Tragedy?

March 18, 2011 - 1:27 pm 25 Comments

In the wake of the catastrophic events that struck Japan last week, every news channel and talk show continues to give updates on the damaged country. Experts are brought onto morning shows to discuss radiation levels. Footage is aired of heartbroken Japanese among the devastated ruins. Stocks plummet. And this morning, Olympic medalist Tara Lipinski performs a skating routine dedicated to Japan and the Nagano Olympics that changed her life in 1998.

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Everyone is watching to see what will happen next.

As I continued to absorb this awful reality and what it means for Japan as a nation, I couldn’t help but wonder to myself: do we as Americans like to sensationalize tragedy? As our behavior demonstrates, Americans like to be in the know. Ranging from the Elizabeth Smart case to the earthquake in Haiti, we are the first ones on the scene and inform to the best of our abilities. The public depends on the media for both knowledge and the comfort of knowing there are people out there striving for justice in an unfair world.

However, everyone has a business to run. News correspondents need credibility. Advertising space needs to be sold. Newspapers need to be read. These are all facts and nothing sells more than a good tragedy. Sometimes I question the motives behind running certain stories again and again and again though. Before the crisis in Japan, for example, Charlie Sheen was all anyone could talk about. This is hardly shattering news, yet the media’s constant coverage on the actor’s downfall had eyes all over the nation glued to the TV. News correspondents followed up on rumors. Experts gave their opinions on the Hollywood star’s crude behavior. Now Charlie Sheen nearly has 3 million followers on Twitter. As a culture, Americans are very emotional and the media knows to play to our emotions by telling us who should be rewarded with our sympathy. The media portrays Charlie Sheen as a man undeserving of our pity and yet sucks us into the drama just the same.

It is amazing what a difference one week can make. Last week I had lost faith in the media because, in my view, they were milking the tragedy of one man for the sake of TV ratings. This week, however, there was no need for sensationalism as Japan’s series of disasters were of such a magnitude, human drama had reached its peak. All the media had to do was uphold press coverage – viewers were guaranteed. I noticed though that the tone of the broadcasts changed significantly. It is one thing to foster drama about an actor; it’s another thing entirely to experience the horrifying loss of homes, lives, cities – everything – in a matter of hours. This is not the kind of tragedy people enjoy sensationalizing. This is the kind of unthinkable tragedy that should never happen, but all too cruelly does. It’s times like these that we are put in our place, reminded of what’s really important. Just look on Twitter and Facebook. These social network sites used to chitchat with friends have turned into invaluable sources of help, comfort, and knowledge for Japan.

Even though we may get caught up in the drama sometimes, I’m really proud of Americans’ unwavering ability to come together in a crisis and lend our support to victims worldwide.

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