The royal conundrum is the interplay between their public role and the strict maintenance of their privacy. Very rarely. They are forced to perform public weddings and baptisms, but we know very little about them.
The Queen is probably the most famous person in the world, but it’s impossible to describe her personality beyond the adjectives that capture her public demeanor: stoic, loyal, and appropriate.
Liz II knows the best way to protect yourself from criticism is to keep your distance and not give your critics oxygen, so it adds a smart one to that list.
Meghan and her husband aren’t paying attention. They moved to the United States to escape the glare of the (infamous) British tabloids, but seem intent on gaining the U.S. media.
They are mostly successful. A sympathetic sit-down interview with Oprah was the apotheosis of the US media, and they quickly bagged it.
Sadly, the internet is collapsing the distinctions between media markets, and the couple seems surprised to find that no one jurisdiction has complete control over their image.
The interview coincided around the same time as an online debate about whether pop star Harry Styles was guilty of “queerbait.”
Styles is an exhilarating fashion darling known for her gender-neutral dress sense. He wears pearls, sheer blouses, and stacked heels. His on-stage outfits have been compared to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era.
Styles is dating an older woman with children — actor and director Olivia Wilde — but he’s shy (or just private) about his sexuality, leaving room for interpretation.
This led critics to accuse him of queerbaiting. I mean, he puts on the cultural garb of queerness and actually does it in public while being straight as Paul.
The argument is that queer cultural cachet should not be allowed to be exploited, including the discrimination and prejudice that queer people continue to suffer from.
Some demand that if Styles is truly queer, he must come out publicly to show solidarity.
I can understand what they want to say. They’re basically accusing Styles of being a phony and abusing their hard-earned cultural recognition to sell records without taking any real risk. (Sadly, I can’t sympathize. No one in pop culture is trying to take his 40s Kmart mommy aesthetic and boost his street reputation, but if so, I ready to rage).
But I think the style and the Meghan phenomenon are related in that they reinforce the ludicrous power we give our celebrities.
Political activism has long relied on celebrity endorsements, especially in the United States, so it has become part of the fame contract. If you really want to go big, you must also hold a fair and correct political opinion.
Be prepared to articulate them publicly. Get it wrong and social media piles will affect your reputation and ad deals.
This seems sketchy to anyone who suspects they are young, spoiled in the bubble of fame, and often quite stupid.
If they need to stand as “allies” of progressive causes in our time, then the art they produce must be bland, relatively malleable, and created with one eye on TikTok’s reception. You must be ready to accept that.
Styles is not David Bowie. Style makes a nice song.
I’m not saying celebrities shouldn’t use their powers to promote good causes.
But tying activism with celebrity could create the ultimate unvirtuous circle, with too many Duchess Meghan being do-nothing celebrities relying on activist causes to maintain their fame.
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