Why Those Princess Diana Docs Shouldn't Be Your New Obsession
The 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death is coming up on Aug. 31, and with it comes a crop of Diana-centric documentaries and TV specials. There's Nat Geo's Diana: In Her Own Words, PBS' Diana —Her Story, ABC's The Story of Diana, and William and Harry's HBO-produced film, Diana, Our Mother. We've officially entered Diana-mania all over again, with the tabloid pandemonium that surrounded the Princess of Wales during her life coming back with a vengeance. But while obsessing over Diana may be fun, it has a serious downside — in that it reveals that despite celebrity culture being a factor in the princess' tragic death, our dangerous fixation on the lives of the rich and famous has only grown stronger.
That HBO's Diana, Our Mother: Her Life And Legacy is endorsed by Diana's sons doesn't take away from this fact. The documentary is much more about the princess' charitable legacy than her personal life as a royal. If you're going to watch any of the Diana-focused docs, choose this one, as not only is it OK with her family, but it offers a new perspective of just how invasive the paparazzi was to Diana during her life. In one clip, for instance, she's shown being followed while on vacation with the boys in Austria, and you can hear her voice begging the photographer to leave them alone.
Princess Diana did (and still does) merit great praise and attention. She did many remarkable things with her fame, like bringing attention to land mines leftover from wars and de-stigmatizing AIDS victims. Her honorable life and tragic death, though, don't deserve to be constantly analyzed by all of us so many years after her passing. If anything, her death should've taught us that invasive celebrity culture is damaging and dangerous, but instead, it's made us obsess even more — despite us getting more info than ever directly from celebs themselves.
In today's world, celebrity-controlled social media accounts should, theoretically, give stars the power, but instead, we just want more and more content. Compare the video of Diana on vacation in the '90s with any video of Kim Kardashian in 2017, and it immediately becomes clear that things haven't improved for many major stars, even the ones who use social media to share info at their discretion.
In basic Economics classes, you learn the laws of supply and demand. The more of something there is, the less valuable becomes. Our unprecedented access to celebrities' lives these days defies all economic laws and instead adheres to a certain law of human nature: greed. For the public, there can never be enough photos of or information about stars' private lives, because the more of them they share on their own channels like Twitter and Instagram, the more we demand.
Because celebrities share their own photos on social media every day, often with locations attached, celeb-stalking has also become easier now than ever before. This benefits both the public and paparazzi, who now have unprecedented access. Even if Princess Diana had lived during the days of Instagram and Twitter, the paparazzi still would have relentless in pursuing photos of her and boyfriends Hasnat Khan or Dodi Fayed on vacation, if not even more so than they were back in the '90s due to social media.
Social media may allow celebrities to control their images, but even if Prince William and Kate Middleton, say, use Instagram to share photos of their family that they want us to see, that still isn't enough. The paparazzi continue to photograph them, and even violate boundaries, as shown by the fact that Kate is still waiting to hear the verdict of her lawsuit against a French magazine that published topless photos of her in 2012. Clearly, there is still a massively high demand for photos of the royals, even after Diana's death.
Prince William, who grew up seeing his mother being hounded by the paparazzi, released a public statement responding to the topless photos of his wife. As Marie Claire reports, William said, "The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy." The fact that William could be shocked by the paparazzi considering that they were a factor in his mother's death tells us that celebrity culture has not just barely changed, but has gotten even worse.
Maybe in order to be a big celebrity and avoid the paparazzi's attacks, one must be a Beyonce-level master of controlling her narrative. However, no matter how in-control a star might be, the public will always obsess over the unknown in his or her life. Even if celebrities decide to share their breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we'd still probably be left wondering: but did they have a snack?
Because Diana's death was so shocking and unbelievable, conspiracy theories abound about the incident as if there's always more we can and should know. And yes, there probably is more that hasn't been revealed, but there isn't more that we should know beyond what her family has chosen to share with us. Rather than focus on what we don't know about Diana, we should just honor her memory by reflecting on her legacy and minding our own business, as she likely would have loved us to do 20 years ago.