OPRAH AND TOWN: They treated Diana the very same way!

FRIDAY, MARCH 19, 2021

But that couldn't unseat Storyline: A nuanced thing happened last week to Our Town's favorite story. 

Here's the way it went down:

As hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans increased, Oprah Winfrey was mainly concerned with the feelings and the experiences of a pair of multimillionaire royals. 

At Slate, the children gathered around the campfire, eager to advance Our Town's one current preferred Storyline.

According to leading experts, this behavior is extremely human—is actually bred in the bone. Some scholars have even suggested that last week's  stampede to Storyline was "human, all too human."

The Washington Post's media reporter announced herself to be "entertained" by what had occurred. As that reporter noted, hard-nosed professors praised Oprah for her singular focus on the feelings and experiences of a couple of mulitimillionaire royals.

And then, a nuanced thing happened! On the front page of the New York Times, a report appeared beneath this headline:

A Royal Interview With Echoes of Princess Diana

The report was written by Sarah Lyall. In the report's identity line, she was described as "a writer at large, working for a variety of desks including Sports, Culture, Media and International." 

Let's start with high praise for Lyall! In an act of steely determination, she managed to write a full report without announcing that Oprah—the one who's focused on the interests of multimillionaire royals—is the world's greatest known interviewer/ journalist / humanitarian / down the street multimillionaire neighbor / former guest at the royal wedding / person and personal friend.

Lyall said goodbye to all that! Instead, she adumbrated a nuancing theme. Her nuanced report said this:

Way back when, the royal family had treated Princess Diana in much the same way they had now allegedly treated the Duchess of Sussex! According to Lyall, Diana and Meghan had been treated the same darn way:

LYALL (3/9/21): Meghan’s discussion in the interview of her mental health struggles as a royal wife, of loneliness and desolation and thoughts of suicide, was reminiscent of Diana’s account of the bulimia and depression that consumed her during her own marriage. Both women said they had desperately sought help from the family, only to be ignored and rebuffed.

“When I’m talking about history repeating itself, I’m talking about my mother,” Harry said. “When you can see something happening in the same kind of way, anybody would ask for help.”

But just as with his mother, when Meghan pleaded for help, he said, none was forthcoming. Instead, the family dismissed her concerns and told her, essentially, to keep her head down.

The couple was repeatedly told: “This is how it is. This is just how it is,” Harry said.

Say what? The royal family had treated the Duchess of Sussex in much the same way they had once treated the Princess of Wales? Is Lyall allowed to say that? 

Apparently, the answer is yes! The nuancing comments continued:

LYALL (continuing directly): Like Diana, Meghan married into a family that did not understand her and believed she would conform, without complaint, to royal customs and protocol. As with Diana, when Meghan proved unable or unwilling to toe the family line, she said, the palace did nothing to dispel the emerging public narrative that she was demanding, petulant, entitled. And like Diana, Meghan found herself hounded by the tabloids, which accused her of constantly seeking attention while happily filling their pages with stories about her.

But there are differences, too, beyond the fact that Diana was white and Meghan is biracial, and the fact that Diana’s marriage fell apart, while Meghan has a strong marriage and a fierce champion in Harry.

In an additional act of rebellion, Lyall's account seemed to respect the fact that the Duchess of Sussex identifies as biracial, not as black. 

(That same day, in a possibly somewhat comical act of Storyline maintenance, Salamishah Tillet described the Duchess as Prince Harry's "biracial Black wife." Tillet's CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK essay appeared on the front page of the Times' Arts section. Along the way, Professor Tillet admitted that she herself has "obsessively overachieve[d] in almost every aspect of my professional life." Major journalists are increasingly willing to open up in such ways.)

Let's return to Lyall's report, the one which appeared on page A1. After noting the fact that Diana had been treated in much the same way Meghan later allegedly was, Lyall said "there are differences, too"—as indeed there are.

That said, the differences Lyall went on to list—example: Meghan was substantially older than Diana—did nothing to affect the basic premise of her front-page report. That basic premise was this:

Whatever one may think of the (alleged) ways the royal family treated Meghan, they had treated Princess Diana pretty much the very same way!

To what extent is that statement accurate? Like you, we have no idea. We aren't experts on the way either of these women was treated. 

Also, and also like you, we don't begin to understand the workings of the British royal family. We can't say that we understand the various ways this vestigial gang of millionaire royals interacts with the rest of British society, not excluding the tabloid press.

That said, Lyall's front-page report added an unpleasant strain of undesirable nuance to Our Town's long week's journey into Storyline. This is why we say that:

Professor Tillet's CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK essay appeared beneath a headline which advanced preferred Storyline. In print editions, that headline went like this:

Taking On Royal Life’s Racism

That headline is drawn directly from The One Story We Currently Love in Our Town. Having said that, hold on there! 

According to Lyall, the multimillionaire British royals once treated Diana—Diana was "white"—the same way they've allegedly treated Meghan! 

But if the treatment was the same, then in what way was the current treatment generated by the royal family's racism? Could the treatment simply reflect the way these multimillionaire royals behave as a general matter? Had nuance possibly entered the picture, undermining preferred Storyline?

A long list of credentialed experts have said the same thing about the role of Storyline in human life. It's a basic part of human wiring, these despondent scholars all insist:

Given the way our highly fallible brains are wired, nuance will never be allowed to disrupt Storyline.

We can't say that these scholars are right in this assessment. We can only say that they have routinely offered that judgment—and that, in this matter, Storyline did prevail.

Quickly, a small confession. Some of the "bombshells" elicited by Oprah's brilliance may well have seemed a bit light. Even for people as silly as we are, it may have seemed strange to spend all that time inquiring about which royal had made which royal cry about the bridesmaids' dresses back in 2018.

Even within Our Town, that explosive bombshell revelation may have seemed a bit light! In the end, though, preferred Storyline prevailed on the basis of the most explosive revelation of all:

We refer to the "revelation," such as it was, that someone in the royal family had (allegedly) said something, at some time, about the possible "skin tone" of future royal babies.

Plainly, this was the "revelation" which set Storyline afloat. Pundits rose in indignation to perform the sense of horror they felt about the way some unnamed person had made this unrecorded remark.

Here in Our Town, we started the week with fawning, ridiculous pundit claims about Oprah's journalistic brilliance. Concerning this number one bombshell, might we offer this?

The discussion of this revelation started with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. That said, it's true that the Duchess hadn't heard the remark (or remarks) in question. She had been told about the remark (or remarks) by her husband, Prince Harry—the man who never briefed her about what life inside the Palace was possibly going to be like.

By the way, was it one remark, in one conversation, uttered by one person? Or had there been several remarks in several conversations, perhaps by several persons?

Meghan seemed to start her account in the plural, then seemed to switch to the singular. In fairness to Meghan, it seems fairly clear tat this was all secondhand content to her.

Harry, the one who didn't tell her that life in the Palace might be constrained, is the one who heard the alleged remark or remarks. When Oprah later questioned him, he plainly spoke in the singular, referring to one conversation with one person who went unnamed..

It was when we heard the audiotape of that one remark that we ourselves became upset. Oh wait! There is no tape or transcript of what was said, and Oprah didn't push real hard on that particular point. 

Instead, the person who mainly cares about royals performed in the manner described below. This description appeared in the New York Times, but also everywhere else:

WEAVER (3/8/21): Oprah seemed genuinely shocked by the revelation: Meghan offering a secondhand account of conversations Harry had had with his family on the subject of their then-unborn first child’s skin tone.

As Meghan delivered a secondhand account of the conversations (plural), Oprah "seemed genuinely shocked" by the "revelation." Or so it said in the Times.

Oprah seemed genuinely shocked, Caitie Weaver wrote. This was a highly subjective assessment, one we don't necessarily share. 

Watching the tape, we've found ourselves wondering if Oprah was simply performing. But deep inside the childish realm of the modern press corps, seeming has long been believing. Without any question, Oprah seemed to display a state of shock, and shock it would become.

At any rate, was there only one conversation, as Harry seemed to suggest? In the greatest interview of the past forty years, the planet's most brilliant interviewer didn't try to nail that point down!

Who exactly was this one person, and what exactly had he or she said? Little effort was expended on either of those fronts. Here within our failing culture, interactions like these now exist for one reason—as routes to preferred Storyline.

We the people were left to be horrified by the revelation in question—by the revelation that someone had, on one occasion, said something which fell in this general area. For ourselves, we're forced to make a confession:

If true, this doesn't seem massively surprising to us. That's especially so since we have no real idea about what was actually said.

Is it possible that Harry took offense at something which may not have been super-offensive?

Yes, that's actually possible. It's also possible that the one remark, if there was a remark, was gruesome right to the bone.

Was it Prince Charles who made this alleged remark? Was it perhaps Prince William?

At Slate, Hampton and Craven swapped guesses as they churned their various dogmas and let us enjoy their gossip. But, as experts routinely tell us, this is pretty much the world of our rapidly failing culture.

Children were drowning in the sea. Attacks against Asians were rising. 

Low-income children can't go to school. But Oprah only cares about this. 

Luckily, Harry had been given sufficient spare change that he could afford to buy that $15 million home. Do twenty percent of American households currently lack sufficient food?

We don't know if that claim is accurate. But Oprah was focused on only one thing—on a fuzzy story from inside a multimillionaire royal culture few of us understand..

Diana was treated in much the same way!  But just as it ever will be, it all added up to racism. 

It's the story we currently love to tell, here in the streets of Our failing Town. It's the only toy in our toy box. It's the one thing we know how to say.

It's our current preferred Storyline. As they've done in so many other areas, with so many deadly results,  pundits eagerly jumped in line, awaiting their chance to perform it.

This is the way our brains are wired, top major experts have said. We will especially behave this way at times of tribal conflict.


22 comments:

  1. "As hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans increased, Oprah Winfrey was mainly concerned with the feelings and the experiences of a pair of multimillionaire royals."

    This is intellectually dishonest!

    No, Somerby. You don't get to hang this on Oprah after minimizing the attacks on Asian-Americans yourself earlier this month!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah but by doing this interview, the great and powerful Oprah is telling us that she thinks that hate crimes against Asian-Americans are less important than the bleatings of royals. It's hard to blame Bob or others for not caring. We are taught to follow the example of our great and admired opinion-makers regarding what's important.

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    2. The interview occurred before the shooting.

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  2. Dear Bob,
    do you really feel that this dull Oprah dembottery deserves more attention than your dembot media reporting on many a crisis currently happening in domestic and international affairs?

    If so, please forgive us for asking: are you some sort of mentally ill?

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Way back when, the royal family had treated Princess Diana in much the same way they had now allegedly treated the Duchess of Sussex!"

    Somerby has been urging caution about believing anything said by the royals, while flogging Oprah for not asking tougher questions. Then he makes an abrupt turnaround to praise Lyall for claiming that Diana suffered the same treatment. But how can this be the case if Somerby isn't willing to accept the treatment "claimed" by Harry and Meghan in the first place?

    Somerby is all over the place, shifting his views in order to keep Oprah firmly in his sights. He also seems to like Lyall because she belies the racism theme by calling Meghan "biracial" instead of black. Never mind that racism affects biracial people too.

    To Somerby, the assertion that Diana was treated the same way as Meghan seems to contradict the idea that racism was at play -- however, the tabloid frenzy and disdain of the royal family were the same, even if the cause was different. Lyall is NOT saying that there was no racism, simply because Diana and Meghan were treated similarly. She is saying both were mistreated in similar ways. But Somerby doesn't hear that part -- he superimposes HIS narrative on Lyall's article, using it to praise the idea that racism wasn't key to Meghan's problems.

    This is working overtime to deny what is obvious in this situation. Meghan was rejected partly because of her skin color and that is different than what happened to Diana, even if the amount of tabloid persecution was similar.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "But if the treatment was the same, then in what way was the current treatment generated by the royal family's racism?"

    The treatment wasn't the cause. The causes were different.

    Here is an analogy. If someone commits arson by burning down a building, that is a very different crime than robbing a bank. However, the treatment is the same -- being locked up in prison.

    Somerby is being misled by his emotions about charges of racism to accept faulty reasoning. You cannot look at the consequences and assume that the reason for them, the cause, was the same. This is the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "it may have seemed strange to spend all that time inquiring about which royal had made which royal cry about the bridesmaids' dresses back in 2018."

    Meghan was clarifying something that had been misreported by the media, not bringing up a gripe.

    Somerby has no desire to be fair to these royals or Oprah. He makes himself seem smaller every time he distorts what happened to grind away at these people. He would do better to turn this into a sports blog and focus on something truly trivial.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Harry, the one who didn't tell her that life in the Palace might be constrained,"

    Here Somerby demonstrates that he has bought the tabloid portrayal of Meghan as spoiled, whiny and petty, hook line and sinker.

    ReplyDelete
  7. For Somerby, the entire matter of racism seems to hinge on one statement and he batters that for all he's worth. But racism isn't only about such statements. It is also embodied by a myriad of slights and exclusions, criticisms and nonverbal behavior, shunning, and press comments about seemingly unrelated topics (such as housing costs) that all add up to communicating to the royal couple that Meghan is not wanted or needed. This was done by the tabloids and abetted by the royal family itself with its internal manipulation over such things as security and royal duties.

    Somerby sticks to the literal, looking for multiple blatant statements of racial animosity (dismissing the one that was reported). He thinks it is OK for families to worry about how dark their kids skin will be -- nothing racist about that! And he blames Meghan for all the rest of the coverage, as if she were unfit to be there (which is what the racism is about at its heart).

    I don't know whether Somerby is actually this clueless or whether he is using this to consciously assert that no one is every persecuted for their race, black (and biracial) people truly are not good enough to claim equality of treatment, they cause their own woes. That is racism and it is wrong and Somerby should not spewing this crap and pretending he is liberal and that this attitude would be anything a liberal person would express.

    Somerby's constant harping on the decadence of humanity, as if everyone else were as bad (or worse) than he is, is also wrong. This is Somerby's problem, not ours. He shares it with the right wing and with white supremacists and racists throughout our country and in Great Britain. And no, everyone doesn't believe this stuff. That's why there is controversy. All of humanity is not doomed along with Somerby. It is just him out on his limb, the one he is busily sawing away at.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "OPRAH AND TOWN: They treated Diana the very same way!"

    I don't recall anyone worrying about what color Diana's children would be.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "This is the way our brains are wired, top major experts have said."

    I don't think Somerby's brain is wired the way ours are.

    ReplyDelete
  10. An excerpt from a Vanity Fair article about the 1995 Bashir interview with Diana which yielded "bombshells":

    "The princess agreed to speak with Martin Bashir in 1995 to set the record straight following tabloid speculation about her marriage to Prince Charles, which by that point had irretrievably broken down. During the interview the princess admitted that her marriage to Charles was over, saying, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”—an unmistakable reference to Charles’s ongoing affair with the future Duchess Camilla.

    The interview was the final nail in the coffin for their marriage, prompting the queen to insist that the couple divorce, which they did the following year. In the interview Diana also admitted that she had been unfaithful with army officer James Hewitt, following Charles’s admission to Jonathan Dimbleby in an interview the previous year that he had also been unfaithful during the marriage."

    Does this sound just like the situation with Meghan and Harry and the royal family? It doesn't to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were allegations that the BBC confronted Diana with fake bank statements and told Diana that the royal family was spying on her, in order to get her to reveal things during the Bashir interview. Does that sound like what Oprah did? Apparently Oprah was able to get the royals to talk on camera without subterfuge, which would qualify her as a far better interviewer than Diana encountered.

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  11. Meanwhile, back in real life:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hesse-atlanta-asian-women/2021/03/18/183b3f00-8749-11eb-8a8b-5cf82c3dffe4_story.html

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