Friday, July 14, 2006

Di's death divulged

Royal family urges boycott of trauma footage; I don't

BBC--UK magazine distributors are being urged not to import copies of an Italian magazine featuring a photograph of Princess Diana as she lay dying.

British newspapers have condemned Italian magazine Chi's publication of the photo, which was taken at the scene of her car crash in 1997.

And Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi was also killed in the crash, condemned the "vile publication" of the picture.

This issue brings to mind the eternal journalistic question: how much is too much?

Diana fans and family argue that the photos are pure exploitation and that they debase the memory of the late princess. And it could perhaps be argued that an equivalent snap of a private citizen would not have garnered the same coverage. On the other hand, Diana was one of the most adored and insatiable public figures in history, and hardly the first to be photographed in the throes of death. Frankly, I'm surprised that the entire cleanup and autopsy processes weren't covered in the Sun; I'm sure it would have sold out nine press runs. The paparazzi didn't chase her so ravenously for their personal collections, folks. They just give the public what it wants, even if the public vehemently denies it.

I can't buy the argument that we must suppress pictures because they are unpleasant. The Diana death was a wake-up call that celebrity had spiraled too far out of control. Perhaps if the real consequences could be seen firsthand--at viewer's discretion, of course--then it would shock people back into reality. It's the same tactic used by driver's-ed classes to show the effects of drunk driving, and by the press to show the real victims of the Iraq War (okay, bad example). As much as most people would like to stick to "Candle in the Wind"-type memories, having access to the wreck footage (and the effects it had on Princess Di) paints a more serious picture of the perils of public life, the press and of drunk, reckless driving. And while I can't necessarily vouch for Chi Magazine's honest intentions regarding this publication, I don't doubt that some good can come out of it.

Finally, the photo isn't even that bad. How do I know? Chi's editor described it as "touching...tender" and as resembling a sleeping princess. Oh, and has hosted the picture for quite some time now.


Alan Smithee said...

I liked this criticism.

Anonymous said...

Much better photo, straight from the magazine, without the gay banner.