Further Thoughts On Diana...
Reality and Myth Blur
She was the princess of postmodernity. Diana embodied contradiction; she defied definition; and she mastered irony. There was no line - traditional, cultural, moral, political, psychological, personal - she could not blur.
In her life and afterlife, the real and the virtual tumbled together; praise and blame trespassed upon one another, tradition and pop culture united; hope and cynicism coexisted; and truth and hypocrisy made their peace.
Hail her or not. But above all, notice how she redefined, even deconstructed, so much of the old world in order to ascend in a new one, a world foreign to the logic of centuries of Western civilization.
Ronald K.L. Collins
Author of "The Death of Discourse" (Westview/ HarperCollins, 1996)
My five-year-old son and I were camping with friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains the night Diana was killed.
Although none of the adults in our small group had paid much attention to Diana while she was alive, we were all sad and shocked the next morning when we noticed a headline in a box outside a restaurant on a rural road. My son heard us talking and immediately got interested.
"A princess?" he asked. "Why were photographers chasing her?"
"She's lucky if they want to take pictures of her," he told me. "I like it when people take pictures of me."
I tried to describe what it was like to be so famous that you no longer had privacy.
"Just imagine if every time you left your house photographers took your picture," I suggested.
He couldn't imagine this. Instead he suggested that she buy everything she need and stay inside her castle.
Washington, D.C.-based writer
What Happens Now?
Do we all just turn around and go back to ... whatever?
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is proposing a memorial to Diana in Wales. Fine. People can make pilgrimages there. But can we not do infinitely better? If our leaders fail to grasp the full essence of Diana's universal appeal and the full potential of her example, maybe we can tell them.
Diana wasn't a rocket scientist; she didn't seem to have a great store of knowledge and wisdom. Maybe she would have gained that had she lived. What she did have was the capacity to grow higher in adversity and break through society's cruel mental walls to demonstrate her public interests and genuine compassion. She was "neighbor" to the least favored and forgotten in exactly the way the Bible story of the good Samaritan meant.
We can do that. We can make changes in ourselves out of the adversity of our loss at her passing. And these changes can stand as each of our own living memorials to the people's princess. Not idolatry, this. It's the supreme compliment - imitation.
Columnist for The River New Herald, in Rio Vista, Calif.
The Blame Game
It's oddly selective. There's much more blame to go around than most blame-game players are prepared to apportion.
If the much reviled paparazzi are to be held accountable, why not the makers of "fast" film that allows sharper photos in dimly lit settings? Why not purveyors of telephoto lenses.
Why are so few blaming the Parisian traffic engineers who failed to install guardrails along the series of tunnel pillars where the crash happened. Then there's the carmaker. And of course the wine and cognac makers must bear their share of blame in the alleged drunkenness of the driver. Surely the makers of motorcycles, the paparazzi's favorite means of stalking quarry, should be blamed as well.
It's worth remembering: there's more blame than innocence to go around.
The reason a newspaper would pay a quarter of a million dollars for one frame is that these images were difficult to obtain and, in the case of Princess Diana kissing her new friend, exclusive. The price of photos, like that of any other commodity, is influenced by supply and demand.
I propose that the ultimate celebrity revenge against the paparazzi is cooperation.
If celebrities gave every photographer a certain degree of cooperation, no photographer would have an exclusive or even rare photo. The supply of photos of the famous would go up, so prices would plummet. Although demand for pictures would remain, no editor would pay exorbitant fees for an image that lots of photographers were selling.
The famous should saturate the market with natural, not controlled, picture opportunities. This will eliminate the game of hide-and-seek, and gut the celebrity photo market.
Of course, some paparazzi will continue to use long lenses and extreme means to reach into private areas. But even these pictures will bring less money if celebrities allow more access.
Professor of photojournalism at San Francisco State University
Dear Prince Charles:
The moving and dignified service at Westminster Abbey signified more than the celebration of a life cut too short. It could mark the beginning of a new - and perhaps the best - chapter of yours. History is full of examples of people rising above tragedy to achieve great things.
Will such be the case with you? There are some things you can do to increase the odds:
Focus on your sons. No matter how many people you employ to help you, single parenting is a full-time job.
Forge a bond with other leaders of your generation and use what you learn to adjust the throne to the demands of a new century.
Fulfill your obligations with a human touch. With so many of your future subjects speculating whether the monarchy will survive, you should look at old newsreels of your grandparents walking the streets of bombed- out London. "Now I can look the East End in the eye," your grandmother said after part of Buckingham Palace was hit.
Alvin S. Felzenberg Commentator on the US presidency