Saturday, June 18, 2005
Queen goes nuts
H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II
ROCKING ROLL MUSIC. A very disturbing report from the United Kingdom:
Queen Elizabeth II has dipped into the royal purse to snap up an iPod.
The Sun said the 79-year-old sovereign had bought a six-gigabyte silver model for 169 pounds.
The pocket-sized digital music players can hold up to 10,000 downloaded songs...
"The Queen loves music and was impressed by how small and handy the iPod is," a royal insider told the tabloid on Friday...
The newspaper suggested Abba's "Dancing Queen" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears might be on the royal iPod.
Six gigabytes? Is this a new royal amusement, or is it something more than that, something considerably darker? I was reminded of another Brit, Andrew Sullivan, who delineated the gathering iPod storm back in February. He wrote, in part:
(A)s I looked across the throngs on the pavements, I began to see why. There were little white wires hanging down from their ears, tucked into pockets or purses or jackets. The eyes were a little vacant. Each was in his or her own little musical world, walking to their own soundtrack, stars in their own music video, almost oblivious to the world around them. These are the iPod people...
(L)ike all addictive cults, it's spreading. There are now 22 million iPod owners in the United States and Apple is now becoming a mass market company for the first time. Walk through any U.S. airport these days, and you will see person after person gliding through the social ether as if on auto-pilot. Get on a subway, and you're surrounded by a bunch of Stepford commuters, all sealed off from each other, staring into mid-space as if anaesthetized by technology. Don't ask, don't tell, don't over-hear, don't observe. Just tune in and tune out.
Has it all finally become too much for Her Royal Highness? The Princess Di scandals, the continuous misadventures of Harry and William, the Camilla business, the final mediocre season of AbFab? Is she now about to withdraw into her "own little musical world," where she can "star in her own music video" while "staring into mid-space"? That would be sad indeed.
I prefer, though, to think of hers as a madness more along the lines of King Lear, in which she is actually reconnecting with her subjects by entering the state of spreading "atomist" isolation decried by Mr. Sullivan. While she listens to "Dancing Queen," tapping her royal foot, isn't it possible that in the depths of her anaesthetized mind, a voice is crooning:
Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just. (Act III, Scene IV,Lines 28-36)
No, I don't think so, either.