It seems all of America was tuned into Chelsea Clinton’s wedding over the weekend. Swoon, swoon, oh my, big deal? For “the ladies”, I guess it was. Weddings have become the symbol of how important the love is between two people, and thus for the woman. Big wedding, big love? It has become a form of tribute to the bride and it will have to do, at least until divorce court shows up one day.
Don’t misunderstand. Who doesn’t like to see two youngish people smiling from ear to ear and happy with life and their prospects ahead? Hey, I’m no grinch. But, when the dust settles and a 100,000 trees have died for all the newspaper and magazine space this will take up, perhaps we might want to consider another angle.
This wasn’t just a wedding, it was like a hostage situation for the supposed guests. First, you can’t drive to the wedding, you have to park and take a bus into the grand, 42 acre site. NO! You can’t bring your cell phone or any other camera to take pictures. The bride and groom, and the bride’s mom, will handle all publicity and you can’t even have one crummy little cell phone memory to show your friends. You will stand where you are told, leave on the buses when they are available to take you and everyone will have a wonderful time. Plus, on top of all this, the guests were forced to sign confidentiality agreements that they wouldn’t talk to the media.
It is hard to imagine who thought all of this up. Chelsea, it seems, either hates the media or just doesn’t want to have anything to do with the beast, so she is the obvious starting point for consideration, but the “mother of the bride” is also a likely suspect. It seems that fundamental principles of courtesy and manners were left at the gate of the compound.
These are not minor issues. When you invite someone to share a special moment with you as a guest, you are supposed to treat them decently. You are supposed to have a minimal amount of faith in them as friends and family who know how to behave. Apparently, Chelsea and her new husband and their parents had no faith at all in the decency and respectfulness of their 400 closest friends and relatives.
I wouldn’t care to take cell phone pictures at anyone’s wedding and, to my mind, it seems a little tacky. But, a generation younger than me has no such concerns. Cell phone snaps are part of everything they do. Go to any event where the crowd is 25 and under and you will witness a sea of cell phones raised to take pictures. It is often silly and useless (most of the pictures are thrown away or rarely viewed), but that’s the way it is, folks, like it or not. Banning cell phone pictures is, at least mildly, insulting to the way people live these days.
The confidentiality agreement is beyond contempt. Wow, if these are Chelsea’s friends, who are her enemies?
Closing the airspace? To whom does that airspace belong? I could certainly see that you wouldn’t want a flotilla of hovering helicopters making noise above a wedding, but do you do something, anything, you can just because you have the power to make it happen? Is there no other way to handle this other than raw, naked power?
I would like to believe that all of this was cooked up by a “wedding planner” with blinders on, working with “security people” and others who think they gain by trying to protect their “subjects”. Chelsea seems like a responsible, head straight on her shoulders young woman who can make a valuable contribution. If this, however, is the true measure of her regard for her friends and the reflection of the depths of her paronia about the media, then I think the couple is going to need to search out a south sea’s island where they can pursue happiness on their own. Instead, they will live in New York, the center of major media.
There is an interesting background to all of this. Of course, Chelsea was raised in a fishbowl and she has watched both of her parents being savaged in the media (not necessarily by the media, however, at least pre-Internet media). She went to private high school in upper northwest DC near where my wife works (a local television station). She was left utterly alone by the media to live her life in the White House. She stopped by the yogurt place after school with classmates and no one pressed around to take her picture or bother her. The news media went out of their way to honor an unwritten agreement: leave kids in the White House alone. Until she became an adult and went off to college, there was almost nothing in the media about Chelsea. There was very little while she was in college. All of that was right and appropriate. The supposedly mad, uncontrolled media managed all of this privacy on her behalf.
From this, we now get Chelsea “the media hater” (I am not saying that is what she is, just how she probably will be perceived from here on in). As for Hillary Clinton, there’s no doubt she hates the media with a passion, when she cannot use them or mold them for her own purposes (this is not surprising, given that most of her adult life was spent as a spouse of a candidate and government official, which left her looking on from the sidelines, wanting to protect her husband and unable to do so) To be sure, there’s not a lot to love about the news media, especially these days when it is busy transmogrifying into a million voices with a million outlets. This went beyond media hating to distrusting their own guests.
The wedding, to my mind, was conducted in a manner of an insult to the guests and a minor insult to American citizens at large. No one wants to talk about that. The morning television news programs Monday were filled with gushing replays, using the few photographs the Clinton’s chose to release (in the manner of the Soviet Union or the Pentagon putting out staged shots to win propaganda points). If you enjoy this kind of “isn’t this grand?” and “aren’t they American royalty?” kind of coverage, then have at it.
We have seen the future of “celebrity” events in America and, most likely, it was given birth by Hillary Clinton, working in tandem with her media averse daughter. Henceforth, everything will be extremely stage managed, access will be limited and reports will be “sketchy”. Washington, DC, meet the highly controlled, ugly media scene called Hollywood.
All of this could have been avoided by having a pool photographer (or two) take still pictures and video, where appropriate, and allowing those shots to be distributed without limitation. Yes, it would be perfectly all right to ban outsiders from the party afterward, but banning your guests from taking their own pictures is churlish and even mean. I can only imagine what sort of efforts at media control we would be seeing if Hillary had gotten to the White House. The old “press room” in the West Wing would likely have been relocated to Baltimore. Maybe they would have just put a bubble over the White House.
Doug Terry, 8.2.10