I've just fulfilled my duty as Diana Groupie, watching several (way too many) of the "Princess Diana Specials" that have been shown this weekend in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of her death.
On its regular newscast last night, NBC Nightly News reported a summary of the week's memorial events, along with a brief wrap-up of her life. Of course, they made a point to mention the media glare in which she lived and the negative effects "the media" had had on her life. They also made the point to highlight the fact that the media still puts her front and center... and when will it stop? This, from the network that aired at least three of the specials I watched. They apparently don't consider themselves part of the exploitative media.
It was a common theme throughout all the documentaries I viewed... blaming the media for its abuse and harassment, yet conveniently disassociating from the fact that each documentary is itself part of that circus.
(Every time I type the media I expect to hear Beethoven's Fifth ............."da da da DA")
Every one of her close friends (or who was rumored or claimed to be a close friend) made this same point, over and over... yet it was they who were talking to the media, further extending the phenomenon and sprinkling over themselves a bit of Diana's starshine while they were at it.
There was even a TV special that profiled some of the notorious paparazzi who had followed her relentlessly since 1981 -- including several of the motorcycle cowboys who chased her limo into the tunnel the night she died, and interviews with editors of the trashy tabloids that permeated her public and private life. Every wide-eyed, innocent person, without exception, placed him/herself apart from the rat pack, the others, those bastards who made her life hell. Not one person said, "yeah, I was part of that media mess -- I participated -- I perpetuated the misery then, and I'm still doing it."
Several new books have been published recently about Diana, her life, her humanitarian pursuits, her children, her dresses, her future presence in the world (and here I thought she had died)... even her former chef has written a book about her eating habits. The chef may be an exception, but every other book makes the point of how she suffered from the media...yet every book is one more example of Diana, the glamorous media commodity.
Even her sons, who bore much of the burden of her out-of-control celebrity, participated in the coverage by interviewing with Matt Lauer last month. Sure, this was to publicize the memorial concert they produced, and also possibly to control the continuing coverage... but still, they too became a part of the puzzling dichotomy of love/hate, use/abuse relations with the media.
Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?
With rare exceptions, Prince Charles, Camilla, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip are generally portrayed in these documentaries as The Royal Villains -- for reasons we are all too familiar with, and also for some new, very bizarre and improbable conspiracy theories. How ironic it is that The Royals, with all their faults and their collective culpability, are the only major players who don't feed the media monster, whereas her friends and supporters jump at every opportunity.
There's probably another layer of irony as I, too, am writing about Diana while bitching about her ubiquitous media coverage. Maybe I'm safe, though... the jury is still out on the question of blogs being considered "the media." ............... da da da DA!