Sharing the Blame

When Princess Diana died, it was the last chance to use her face to sell magazines. She regularly appeared on "People," with the slightest provocation of being news, and even "Newsweek" and "Time" would use her to boost sales, even when she was the softest of stories that week.Like the Duchess of Windsor and Jackie Onassis before her, she was not a naturally attractive woman. If they were not famous, without access to fashion designers and hairstylists, you wouldn't notice them in the corner grocery. The Duchess looked like a homely man. Jackie's eyes were too wide apart, her nose too flat, her chin too small. Diana's own nose was decidedly British, long and crooked. All three of them were anorexically thin, preferring to wear clothes well than have a figure more pleasing to the eye. Is a coincidence that the husbands of these willowy media women often find comfort on the side in the arms of a more down to earth woman?Diana, like the Duchess and other iconic women, became the type who made glittery appearances at events, whether politically correct or socially frivolous, and became an event in herself.But would she be alive today if she had let herself gain some comfortable weight, paid less heed to fashion, and instead developed some interests she could have shared with a husband?Maybe so. In the hours after her death, the media, mindful that the finger of blame was being pointed firmly at them, launched myriad discussions of who was to blame for the untimely death of a young mother.The photographers, surely, who chased her speeding car in a Paris tunnel, are to blame. The public's desire to see and read about Diana had become a huge media business, and suppliers of the latest dose of Diana stood to make retirement-sized pay days. Media greed, the tabloids and weekly personality magazines, they're to blame.But then again, who said the car had to speed away from the photographers? Why not just putt along and lay low? But we had a multi-millionaire playboy lover in the car who had to put on some macho show of defiance, who had to prove to his date that he could protect her from inquiring lenses. He must have ordered his driver to step on the gas. This Dodi fellow is to blame, and he paid with his life, foolish man.Then there was the startling revelation that the driver of the death car was drunk, a minor detail that eluded the notice of the protecting Dodi and the hired bodyguard, who put on his own seat belt at least. New blame. It was the drunken driver's fault.Why was Diana in that car in the first place, dating a foreign man as plug ugly as Aristotle Onassis? Can money really buy happiness? Hadn't she already learned the answer was no? Didn't she know he was a collector of women, and that she had no future with him, despite more fairy tale weaving from the media that she was "happy at last" in the arms of this man? Yeah, but for how long?Now here's a person to blame. Certainly Prince Charles must be faulted for plucking this poor girl from a life of obscurity when she barely had a mind of her own, and marrying her when he did not love her. Remember the glorious wedding which had everything but a groom who could spare his bride barely a glance throughout it all? Didn't we all know something was amiss then? Without him, she'd be some little nobody's wife by now, but certainly still alive, and maybe even happy. It's all Charles' fault.But Diana was a woman who, by her own admission, was "useless and hopeless and no good at anything, with a husband who loved someone else." She had made half-hearted attempts at suicide before to get her husband's attention. What kind of therapist did she have who couldn't tell her the most basic advice there is in life? That everyone is good at something, and you need to find that something and do it. And that something is not wearing sequined outfits and cutting ribbons. There's no satisfaction at the end of the day in that.Royalty had removed from her life all the little things that fill it up and left her empty. The weekend she died, I had four loads of laundry to do, twenty dresses to iron, groceries to buy. The night she died, I spent the entire day trying to load and run a new computer program. It crossed my mind that if Diana had to boot up and debug a program, she'd have no time for sitting around the French Riviera or late night dinners at the Ritz with guys like Dodi. Sometimes all the bothersome details of living is what keeps a woman alive and fulfilled.Diana was reduced to a being a China doll on a shelf, face painted, and likely to topple and break with the least jolt. She had not been a commoner long enough in her adult life to realize how important being ordinary is, and how the most important thing she could have done for herself is to do for herself.Instead, seeking the vapor of love, acceptance, security, with everyone to blame, including herself, she chose a perilous path and gave up her life like a moth to a flame.The engine of revisionist history is already chugging into position, turning her into a saint, the likes of an Evita Peron. Her tentative little speeches about land minds were reported as if it had been a lifelong crusade. Much has been made of her holding the hand of a person with AIDS or embracing a person with leprosy. Let not the word "photo op" sully whatever saintly intentions we superimpose on her now because we must give her a better death, a more fitting end than a drunken driver outrunning motorcycles at high speed.She was an actress playing a part, and when the curtain came down, she, like many people who are handed tremendous, yet superficial, roles, had nothing to fall back on, no identity of her own. The media created her, sustained her, and eventually killed her. If someone like Jackie Onassis was a role model, she didn't look hard enough at the details, because Jackie had learned to be oblivious to the press, to walk through a crowd of them without seeing them. It required less visibility, less making the scene, a certain amount of withdrawal from the public eye.Diana may have had many people to blame, but in the end, she made her own poor choices.


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