Sunday, October 19, 2008

"The Queen"

Carol and I saw this via Neflix DVD last night (We have decided to somewhat vary date night so that we alternate Publix with a DVD each week. We don't want to fall into a rut.) A film based on how Queen Elizabeth and Tony Blair dealt with the Princess Diana tragedy seemed an unlikely basis for an entertaining motion picture. But it was very well done and it raised some important questions about our celebrity culture.

As I watched the movie's depiction of the struggle that the Queen had in understanding the public affection that the British had for Diana and the risk to the monarchy that the Queen's virtual silence on the tragedy seemed to pose until she came around at Blair's insistence, my mind went to the Obama phenomenon. It's not a perfect analogy, of course, but what I see as a mostly unexamined enthusiasm for Barack Obama, based on his media-inflated charisma and the idea that his election offers some sort of redemption for the tragic side of American History, is similar in some respects to the Diana phenomenon, the "People's Princess" as Tony Blair anointed her. As the stodgy, clueless, remote, and adulterous monarchy ("adulterous" not including the Queen) provided the foil for the Princess, so the difficulties of the Bush Administration and the corruption exclusively assigned to his party by the media provide the foil for Obama.

Without minimizing the personal loss that Diana's death meant to her family and friends, one can say that the public convulsion in Britain over her death probably did no permanent damage. But the risks involved with an Obama regime will be significant and the change it will introduce could well be enduring.


Sean Meade said...

don't you think this same cult of personality analysis applies to Palin, too?

Paul Stokes said...

She certainly has charisma. But she also stands for a set of values that are well understood, values and beliefs that are there for everyone to see. With Obama, the charisma gets in the way or, more precisely, hides, or at least distracts, from what he believes and where he is going to take us. There is nothing cult-like, at least to me, about Palin's popularity. There is about Obama's.

Paul Stokes said...

A point made in the movie "Queen" was that Princess Diana, as known to the Royal family, was very different from how she was perceived by the public. The movie suggested that this divergence accounted, at least in part, for the difficulty difficulty of the Queen in coming around to the position that she needed to honor the public memory of Diana or else put the Monarchy at risk.