Jul 26, 2013

Normal Kate’s normal post-George bump a shape of things to come

How normal is Kate? So normal. And Willy is such a normal dad. And George will be normalised, too. These new-age royals are all so normal. Or so the narrative goes.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

There is nothing remarkable about the first son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; nothing remarkable at all. Well, nothing if we overlook that His Royal Highness is third in line to regal ascent in 16 nations, will enjoy a sweet deal on capital gains his entire life and is, in essence, made not of mere flesh but of money and anachronistic hope. Despite his extreme youth, Prince George is nothing if not remarkable; but in the days following his delivery the British royal family and a compliant international press have been working to build the "unremarkable" narrative. Earlier today, Prince Harry described the heir as "just like all babies". Just a little later, the Palace announced that "normal" "dad" Prince William would return to work  after "just" a two-week vacation; a period of respite that brings him into line, apparently, with all the "other dads". In a cloying cream-horn reheated by The Age, The Telegraph noted His Highness was blessed with parents who understood "normal" and as we watched him grow, we could expect, "a whole new way of being royal". The capital gains tax concessions remain but what has changed, apparently, is that George is Normal. Normal. Normal. So is his dad. So is his uncle. And so, naturally, is his mother, who is in fact SO normal that she has, in turn, become remarkable. Which -- one suspects -- was the media plan all along. On the portico of her maternity hospital, the middling Duchess did a wonderful job of re-finishing Lady Diana's pioneering work of "normal". Whereas the former Princess of Wales had independently and quite unevenly sought a 1990s version of "normal", this later consort is offering the Palace-approved variety. Diana's was the sort of normal that wore Versace as it threw its bulimic form down the stairs after extra-marital heartbreak. Cambridge, apparently, is "post-baby-bump" normal. None of us had seen the post-partum belly referred to as a "post-baby-bump" before this week, but "writers" such as Shelley Hadfield was one of many ready to rebrand damaged tissue with a cute little name. In a "piece" of obsequiousness so errant it would make Rasputin blush, Hadfield's open letter typifies the pop response to Middleton's successful hyper-normalisation. Praised for her courage in standing upright without a foundation garment, the Duchess "may not realise this at the moment (you've been a little busy over the past few days), but your public appearance just a day after the future king's birth has made you an icon for every woman who has ever had a child". In an act of confusing piety, Destroy the Joint used its Facebook page to ask its fans if they had ever experienced scrutiny upon giving childbirth; even liberal feminism, it seems, is out to give the Duchess a break. Confusing commentator Laurie Penny has a bet each way in the New Statesman declaring both her loathing for the Monarchy and her compassion for Cambridge as an "object" of media focus. In recent hours, a campaign against OK! magazine has arisen online for its (entirely predictable) report on Cambridge's Post Baby Body. These items descend into the kind of schlock that would make an afternoon with Oprah seem like a lecture on consequentialism. Read it for nothing but its value in instructing us how "normal" is the new divine. The divinity of kings has long since evaporated from the British monarchy. We secular consumers weaned at the teat of celebrity can no longer be expected to support the Regent unless he offers us something different; a newer version of divinity. And what he offers -- most notably in the present by means of his mother on whose behalf liberal media cheers -- is something better than celebrity. It's "normal". And, so cleverly hyper-normal. The new divine is embraced by progressives eager to compare the problems of a princess to their own post-ideology bumps and to Murdoch's crew now audacious enough to mention the Royal girth. Cambridge's temporary bloat is, as the Herald Sun might have it, the hyper-normal "shape of things to come".

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39 thoughts on “Normal Kate’s normal post-George bump a shape of things to come

  1. mikeb

    Kate will no doubt get back to her usual shape in short time. I’m awaiting the first comments declaring that she lost weight too quickly, that she sets an unreal example for new mums, but that she still looks fabulous anyway & is an inspiration to new mums around the world.

  2. Steve Jobs

    Awesome article, if not a little overcooked. More people should be so bitter.

  3. Venise Alstergren

    HELEN RAZER: How could a woman with your brains rush to piddle where all the social pages writers piddle?

    Inherited royalty is an anachronism and Australians are gormless twats for buying into the royal scam.

    I haven’t actually read your article, and I don’t intend to. I Don’t wish to have my illusions shattered.

  4. mattsui

    Seems like Helen is pulling her punches here.
    Closet monarchist, Ms Razer?
    Kate and Wills’ sprog will be the least inbred royal since the demise of the concubine (or since they stopped rooting whomever they pleased/started using rubbers).
    I guess that makes it a little “normal”er.

  5. Helen Razer

    “Closet monarchist”?
    What the sweet toilet are you talking about?
    Did you read this critique of Palace media management or choose instead to do as Madam Kafoops above had and come to a conclusion sans reading?

  6. David Sanderson

    A fabulously abnormal critique. The faux-middle-class theatre of putting the baby in the capsule and then self-driving away was a splendid parody of middle-class life, if you could ignore the hordes of panting media. We will have innumerable performances of this Theatre of the Normal, junk-flooding their way down the media gullet, to look forward to.

  7. mattsui

    I read it. it was alot softer than we’ve come to expect from Helen Razer.
    The other was an attempt at scathing wit. Perhaps I should leave it to the proffessionals…..

  8. Sandra Lynn

    I’m over it.

  9. AR

    VA – unexpectedly, this was a routine piece of reportage, lacking Razer’s usual verbal gymnastics & pyrotechnic imagery.
    Like recent Grundle, almost straight – is there some sort of fiat from above? I think we should be told.
    One small point, “ask its fans if they had ever experienced scrutiny upon giving childbirth” – as distinct from aardvark or zebra birth?

  10. Lehan Ramsay

    So she wasn’t allowed to have the baby induced (inducted? that would be nice) I suppose that the stoic thing may be part of the job too. There was an official Baby Verification Ceremony, it’s not surprising after the Beyonce thing, I think that people were starting to wonder if there was any strangeness about the situation after the last hospital drama and that may explain the number of press waiting. Also not surprising if these people take some pleasure in not having to deliver svelte because they are hereditary and therefore money doesn’t always have to be a signifier. I did wonder about the mother-in-law dress, particularly with that “mother looks, father here” jibe – is there disapproval from Queen about how they are doing their job, and equally is there pressure on Queen to abdicate. Also a dig here at dwindling public support, no doubt. Also of course a Diana Charles reference how could anyone resist. “Mums” – chrysanthemums, Mother’s day, champagne, the Queen, and Katherine’s new label. I could be wrong but was there also a kind of smug contempt for the new acquiescence of the young couple to the role – the wave, the ordinariness. No longer are they expected to play the glamourous designer couple, now they begin the parent role play. And so they are a little tired, they are working for the nation, they are simplifying, they are a little poorer, a little plainer. Which actually is good, because if they were to do the Beckham thing, the nation actually could be affected by the subsequent increase in affluent behaviour and expectation. But the thing I’m most interested in are these hints of historical protocol and hereditary privilege. They just do not have to do what other celebrities do, and then there are things that they have to do that other celebrities don’t. And how amazing is that, this baby already having strongly experienced how excited people will always be over it’s wave. The first learning imperative. From the very first there have been crowds of people all expressing awe that he is here. What kind of effect does that have on his brain, I wonder.

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