Baby crazy: royal obsession of the poor-taste press

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
ABC The Drum /
July 23, 2013 /

Click here to view original /

I may have outgrown actually saying it, but when a friend announces her pregnancy, even at 33, I still wonder whether she will keep it.

Now that’s a public school education and feminist upbringing for you.

It’s just hard for me to get enthusiastic about babies. I don’t dislike them, truly I don’t, but I think of the whole production as akin to pursuits like driving: even the slowest of slow-witted people seem to accomplish it. I just don’t get the hoo-ha.

So we’ve got a royal birth and of course it’s splendid. Magazine editors are planning celebratory holidays in Provence and the most perverted of the paparazzi are hoping for a milk-stained blouse.

And me, like any writer worth her ink, is searching for an angle. A hook.

Bad news sells. Fiery plane crashes and sad things happening to pretty women and daredevil charity pursuits gone awry sell papers. And we voraciously gobble it all up because our devilish sides like to sleep soundly knowing there’s misery worse than ours – like to feel all good and righteous about double-deadlocking our doors.

Bad news stories proffer angles, serve up ever more juicily hokey eyewitness accounts and gift us the inevitable one-legged wedding triumph tale. Bad news wrenches the fear, loathing and deep-seated lividness out of us. And it’s oh so delectable for business.

Five fingers, five toes? Fantastic. Happy happy, smiley smiley faces? Tremendous.

So now what now?

What’s to be said about a baby? What feelings are there to be conjured in us beyond a vague “mmm, cute” before we turn the page or open up a new window to play Scrabble?

Because it’s unlikely we’re going to get an answer to the “natural”-pure-as-the-driven-snow vs too-posh-to-push methodology question that’s always catnip for the crazies.

And let’s face it, the kid damn well won’t be getting a Le-a (“Le-dash-a”) name for us to all mock and malign and get all quaintly classist about.

And while, truth be told, part of me is hoping that Will and Kate turn out to be deadbeat parents of the chronic gaming or pageant junkie kind, I’m thinking it won’t play out that way.

So how do we keep it all interesting? What will fuel the 24-hour-party-people of the press trying to milk this malarkey for all it’s worth?

What – most importantly – will give this story enough Walkley Prize meat to resurrect the embattled career of Sunrise’s newly promoted/demoted “royal correspondent”, Mel Doyle?

Just quietly, I like a good switched-at-birth story. Alas, those take time in the brewin’. And I’m not sure my patience can hold until an early-20s pimp, residing somewhere charming like Hackney, is revealed as the true heir to the throne.

Part of me, that Seinfeld-watching smartarse, is hoping that the baby is a tad ugly. Not paper-bag-job ugly – let’s not go crazy – but just … quirky … enough to force the mags to crack open the Roget’s and source ever more eloquent ways of phrasing not completely hideous.

And then there’s the nanny. Because I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having some mighty high hopes pinned on her. Not necessarily another Lindbergh tale, but there’s got to be something there. A secret scientologist? A part-time Wiccan? A little spot of weekend amateur cloning?

Poor taste? Pfft. Poor taste is bazillions of “journalists” flocking to a hospital to cover a kid that will look like every other for a good few months.

Poor taste is not allowing a new mother to leave a hospital in a tracksuit, moccasins and with a dash of the ol’ postpartum breakout.

Poor taste is thinking that we have any rights at all to gory details and yet another snapshot of the fortieth forced smile.

I’m just trying to shake it up a little.

© Lauren Rosewarne