Is Prince George, the Royal Baby, Immune to Twitter Parody?




As soon as the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to the hospital with acute morning sickness, forcing her press office to announce her pregnancy, it started. “I EXIST!!!!!” announced@RoyalFetus on December 3. We knew this eye roll was coming—not the baby (because YAY!!!) but the mediocre parody Twitter. “I EXIST” has been retweeted 3,953 times. None of the account’s subsequent messages appear to have been met with quite the same enthusiasm, but still, “The iPad mini was developed solely so I would be able to Tweet my gestation live from the womb. So, that’s why that exists! #royalbaby” got 315 retweets. And when the duchess went into labor on July 22, “Even I’m getting sick of hearing about me” got 206 retweets. If retweets lead to followers and followers lead to more retweets, this account should have, what, at least 100,000 followers by now? But it doesn’t—it’s at 16,563. That’s a respectable number for any civilian or blogger, but for a Twitter account that’s supposed to be the hilarious pinnacle of commentary on one of the biggest stories of the year, it’s nothing. (By comparison, Will Ferrell parody account @ItsWillyFerrell—which is only “ha ha” funny, but arguably not quite followfunny—has nearly 1.4 million followers.)

Similar attempts to parody the royal baby on Twitter seem about as promising as Kim Kardashian’s singing career—so much potential (see: “Stars Are Blind“), yet in reality, so much failure. @IamRoyalBaby started tweeting on December 3 as well and seemed on track to become a viral sensation with its second tweet, “I can confirm I am not a ginger”—a clever dig at conspiracy theories surrounding Prince Harry’s true father that garnered 1,195 retweets. But that account now has just 4,530 followers. There’s also @IsKateInLabor, started in the height of the birth anticipation on July 19, which only has 64 followers. To be fair, it’s hard to set a Twitter account up for massive success when all you’re setting yourself up to tweet are variations on “yes” and “no.” But still, the royal baby has proved so far to be impervious to tractionable parody—an impressive feat in the age of Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, and the meme-ification of everything from a photo of Hillary Clinton looking at a cell phone to a photo of a random “ridiculously photogenic guy.”

The problem with parodying the royal baby (or, if you wanted to be unnecessarily graphic about it, the royal fetus) is that the story hasn’t given us anything to laugh at. All aspiring royal-baby-driven humorists have to work with is the news that Kate was pregnant, gave birth to a healthy baby, flawlessly presented him to the world, and took him home. Like, LOL—or, not. Plump tears are still glistening in the world’s collective eye corners, because, one, we are all SAPS, and two, this story has truly been nothing but wholesome, presenting no truly comical moments to pounce on. Conversely, the author of @AngiesRightLeg had a great moment to seize when Angelina Jolie showed up to the 2012 Oscars thrusting her leg out of the slit in her gown like she was squatting for a wall sit. The same is true for the person behind @InvisibleObama, inspired by Clint Eastwood’s nonsensical rant directed toward an empty chair/imaginary Barack Obama at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

When you’re dealing with someone who’s days or even hours old—or, worse yet, unborn—they have not even a semblance of a persona. Allie Hagan, who has turned Suri’s Burn Book into a full-time job since launching it two years ago, thinks the most successful Twitter parody accounts imagine what well-known, highly photographed, but mostly silent, social-media-rejecting personalities are like. Take @NotTildaSwinton (56,581 followers; sample tweet: “The best party I ever attended was man’s discovery of fire.”) or @Queen_UK (1.1 million followers; sample tweet: “Text from The Pope: ‘Boy George! BOOM! LOLZ’ Not replying.”) “Fetuses just don’t have personalities,” Hagan says. “There’s not any joke that you can make about one fetus that’s different than a joke that you can make about another fetus.”

Little distinguishes the royal-baby parody accounts from the North West or Blue Ivy parody accounts, argues Hagan, who started Suri’s Burn Book on Tumblr when the child was five years old. At that time, Suri was beginning to earn a reputation as a stylishly dressed tot with an outlandish proclivity for high heels and completely absurd parents. “I don’t think it would have worked if Suri didn’t have five years of press behind her,” Hagan adds. “The royal baby didn’t even have a name until five minutes ago.” She’s right that none of the fetus tweets truly define the gestational period or subsequent life of Prince George. In April, @RoyalFetus offered: “If I’m born on the 4th of July will America send me a free gun?” And on December 3, @IamRoyalBaby gave us: “Sorry chaps, little scare there. Mum’s had a few drinks! #Royalbaby #Royalbabyisback.”

However, what babies Blue Ivy and North have that Prince George doesn’t are parents so absurdly famous and, well, just absurd, that it’s almost impossible to seriously imagine what their lives are like. And in fact, a North parodist made headlines and quite the splash bytweeting photos of Kim Kardashian screwing Ray J and making jokes about “why mommy is so famous.” (The account, fortunately, appears to have been shuttered.) And the people still trying to make Blue Ivy parody accounts at least have lots of ridiculous Beyoncé and Jay-Z lyrics to remix for comedic purposes, not to mention their lifestyle as big shots with yachts, planes, trains, Samsung endorsement deals, feathers made of gold and diamonds, etc.

Meanwhile, what do royal-baby parodists have to work with? Nothing. Kate and William have never intentionally had themselves photographed nude or having sex, with each other or other people. They don’t make music videos about how much money and hotness they have. In fact, they don’t make music videos at all (for shame, really). They don’t order bloggers to remove “unflattering” photos of them from the Internet, or even dress remotely weird. So people trying to parody their spawn must contend with the powerful image of Kate and William as the World’s Most Perfect Couple—a pair as relatable as they are unrelatable.

After they emerged from the Lindo Wing Tuesday with little Prince George, it was easy to forget that Kate, former commoner, had probably gotten her hair blown out, or that Prince William had clearly practiced placing his infant’s car seat in that vehicle a great many times. If they were Beyoncé and Jay-Z, she would have been wearing a leotard made of pearls, he’d have been wearing sunglasses and horsing around with Kanye West, and a driver wearing a statement necklace would have carted them and their crown-wearing infant off in a Maybach. But Kate and William bring celebrity back down to earth. As pretentious as their standing in the world is, they do everything possible to show they, as people, are not. Duchess Catherine practically went straight from her royal wedding to pushing her own grocery cart in Angelsey, where William is stationed. In lieu of a chauffeur, Prince William chose to drive his wife and newborn home from the hospital. Prince George will reportedly not even have a nanny, making mincemeat of royal tradition if Kate’s cart-pushing ways never did. The most obvious parodic characterization to make about their baby may be that he’s a wealthy little snot. But the most obvious jokes are seldom the funniest, and it’ll be an especially hard sell when everyone is so in love with the do-it-yourself royals Kate and William have so consciously convinced us they are.