On the homepage of The Daily Beast right now, a headline beckons: "If Kate Middleton's Butt Could Speak." How could I not click on that?
Actually, the full title of the piece, which was published early this morning, is "If Kate Middleton's Butt Could Speak: It's Time Royal Princesses Led Visible, Voluble Public Lives," but for those additional words, you need to click through to the full thing. I'll note that the piece, by Tim Teeman, has little to do with Kate Middleton's butt, though it does reference the recent controversy over the publication of a Marilyn Monroe-esque upskirt shot of Middleton while in Australia, made possible by a gust of wind stirred up by a helicopter.
Rather, Teeman offers a thoughtful essay about the media-manufactured rivalry between Kate and the soon-to-be-Queen Letizia of Spain, as well as a powerful meditation about their roles as largely mute accessories to gilded royal conglomerates. "There's nothing the media likes more than women fighting one another," he writes, "particularly if the media can dictate the terms of that fight because those involved are royal and rarely stirred to comment. Without words, royalty, even royal bums, become symbols. Without commanding, distinguishing words from their mouths, the narrative can be wholly invented for Kate and Letizia."
Please read the whole essay, in fact, because Teeman's argument is smart and important; he goes on to critique not only the media, but royal traditions that compel these young women to be "silent, smiling adjuncts, endlessly smiling actually, prettily attired, doe-eyed and supportive" who serve as "assembly-line workers in the ultimate factory of patriarchy."
But while I'm happy to call your attention to Teeman's excellent essay, let me also begrudgingly tip my hat to The Daily Beast for its shameless clickbaiting -- for using a "royal bum" to get us to read Teeman's deconstruction of the global media's fixation on the woman attached to said bum.
Really, if The Daily Beast is going to go there, why not go all the way there? After all, the site, which was founded by famously royal-obsessed British journalist Tina Brown, has itself not shrunk from speculative coverage about Buckingham Palace over the years. I would like to see the Beast gin up a BuzzFeed-style slide show to examine, in depth, what would happen if Kate Middleton's butt could indeed speak. I've given it some thought, and for starters,
• Barbara Walters would come out of retirement to interview Kate Middleton's butt.
• The royal family would likely discourage Kate Middleton's butt from speaking, but might encourage it to express itself in other nonthreatening ways. Perhaps it could learn to play the bagpipes?
• The accent with which Kate Middleton's butt speaks would be endlessly analyzed by the media. Would have it have a Bucklebury accent, like commoner Kate before she hooked up with a royal, and would palace officials insist on offering it elocution lessons in order to speak in a manner more befitting a royal butt?
• Millions of girls and young women would spend countless hours squatting over mirrors trying to see if they, too, could make their butts speak like Kate Middleton's butt.
Ah, you know what? I better quit right there. You take it from here, Daily Beast …
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.