Nothing makes American royalty look better than comparing it with aristocratic "you're rich and famous because your distant ancestor was a successful repressor of serfs"-type royalty.
We've been granted that luxury this week as Prince William and his wife, Kate, took a tour of the former colonies, which . . . I can't help wondering if that irks him. Does he stew as he socializes, obsessing over the fact that if a few battles had gone differently this whole country COULD HAVE BEEN MINE, MINE, MINE!!!
The royal couple arrived this week and brought a storm of media so all-encompassing it masked the fact that the royals are people with no extraordinary personal accomplishments. Don't get me wrong: William and Kate are as cute as a basket of labradoodle puppies, and they seem very nice, but the only superspecial thing about William is his lineage and the only superspecial thing about Kate is her marriage.
So typically, when we have a media celebragasm over people who shouldn't matter, we get media celebragasm backlash. Take the Kim Kardashian butt photo -- and everything about her life since a video was released of her having sex with her boyfriend in 2007.
There's this idea that because we pay so much attention to Kim and her ilk (I desperately want my own ilk), rather than, say, the heartbreak of psoriasis or the flaws in our tax policy, we are bad people. And that it's the media's fault, which it is not.
The media figure out what people care about enough to pay attention. The media workers then provide more of what people care about, so they can make enough money to cover rent and buy themselves a pizza and a 12-pack of Mountain Dew Code Red and so media owners can buy spaceships. The media are selfish that way.
And I would argue that paying attention to Kim, her husband(s) and all the lesser Kardashians is far more justified than paying attention to William the Balding and Kate the Cute. You have to respect the fact that Kardashian has made an estimated $50 million simply by inventing the phenomenon known as "Kim Kardashian." She has TV shows. A book. Boutiques. A clothing line. Yeah, it started with a porn video, but a lot of people film themselves having sex, and don't get much out of it.
Paris Hilton is also known for a porn tape, true, but her real success came from inventing the phenomenon of "Paris Hilton." Creating one's own celebrity is an odd, almost random skill: Think of Snooki and the rest of the "Jersey Shore" jokers and Honey Boo Boo and Mama June and the "Duck Dynasty" dudes.
Should they be as important to us as they are? Lord, no. But have they at least earned their fame, albeit via standards as warped as a Paris Hilton record (It was called "Paris," FYI) set out in the sun for three days? Yup.
These media magnets aren't quite American royalty, but the people Kate and William met Monday night, Beyoncé and Jay Z, are. And they're a great example of why I prefer our royalty to the birthright kind.
Both came from modest backgrounds. Both are self-made. Both are artists, philanthropists, multitalented, wealthy.
Neither is perfect. But they are superb symbols of the United States as a place where people can rise as far as their work and talent take them, can invent themselves, and fashion and claim their own crowns.
I don't think celebrities deserve the attention they get. But I think most of our celebrities, even the seemingly silly ones, deserve the attention they get far more than Kate and William.
So why would I write about Kate and William if they don't deserve the attention? Because you want me to, and because I like paying the rent, eating pizza, and drinking Mountain Dew Code Red.