Royal wedding mystery: In TiVo era, why do Americans want to watch it live?
Restaurants and caterers in the US are putting on live viewing parties early Friday morning, trusting in the power of the royal wedding as a can't-miss communal event.
â€śOne thing I think is very interesting to me about all this is that everyone has DVRs and TiVos and recording devices of every kind, and yet they are all going to get up at four in the morning to watch this just as it happens,â€ť says Marcia Seligson, author of "Eternal Bliss Machine: Americaâ€™s Way of Wedding."
She then confesses: â€śIâ€™m going to do the same thing. And I donâ€™t know whyâ€¦. Why is that?â€ť
Gordon Coonfield, a media expert at Villanova University, has an answer.
â€śPeople are really craving the shared experience of a communal ritual event,â€ť he says. â€śThere arenâ€™t that many universal or relatively universal cultural rituals anymore â€¦ and here is one where everyone will stop whatever they are doing, and make sure they are watching as it happens. Theyâ€™ll get out of bed, pull out their cell phone, turn on the TV, find it on their computer â€¦ anything.â€ť
From London to Los Angeles, restaurants and caterers are banking on the power of that collective experience, planning live themed viewing events such as wedding parties, brunches, high-teas, and royal dinners.
â€śItâ€™s not something that happens every day now is it?â€ť says Andrew Perkins, manager of The Cat & Fiddle British Pub in Los Angeles. His pub is offering â€śbig screens, drink specials, and a proper British spreadâ€ť that includes bangers and mash, shepherdâ€™s pie, fish and chips and Welsh rarebit (thatâ€™s double Gloucester cheese melted on toast with grilled tomato, for the uninitiated).
â€śThe British royal family is quite revered everywhere, and we do pomp and circumstance better than anyone it the world," he adds. "Weâ€™re expecting quite a crowd.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s the biggest show of them all,â€ť says the founder of mymomshops.com, who considers herself a serious royal watcher and expert. She has blogged about her June 1997 meeting with her lifelong obsession, Princess Diana, outside an auction at Christie's in New York. â€śWilliam and Kate's wedding will bring me full circle, since my own interest in the royal family began almost exactly 30 years ago.â€ť
Ms. Seligson, the author, agrees that perhaps some events become so big and talked about that another layer of people become involved so as not to be left out, regardless of their own personal feelings of the event.
â€śYeah, even though youâ€™ve TiVoed it and can watch it the next day in the afternoon, it somehow just isnâ€™t the same thing,â€ť says Seligson. â€śYou need to know firsthand what everyone is talking about.â€ť