Sunday, December 12, 2010

Royal Flush

I have to admit I got some pleasure out of seeing this photo of Prince Charles and Camilla reacting to the recent student demonstrations in London, once the violence was directed at their noble personages firsthand. When a breach in police security lines piled a phalanx of protesters around the privileged twosome's Rolls Royce as they headed to the theatre, the shock suddenly registered on their Stonehenge-like countenances. Reports claim the students rocked the car and shouted "off with their heads" while someone even poked Camilla in the ribs with a stick, as though assessing the old horsewoman the way she might inspect a pony's fetlocks. I wonder if it was the first time either of them, in their well-sheltered lives, had been truly frightened.

The fact that these two are living out their storied lives together now, and may soon be king and something very close to queen, seems unfair. When the prince selected the 19-year-old Diana Spencer for his bride 30 years ago, she was naive enough to think she was marrying for love. The reality was that she'd been chosen for her virginity, fertility, and a lineage that went back many centuries. She was simply a brood mare to the royal family, and it wasn't long before she realized her specific role and the fact that her husband had never ended his relationship with the older woman. By the time she finally extracted herself from the family and began to define herself it was already too late.

Knowing the fate that would befall Diana, it's hard to watch this early interview when the engagement was announced. Seeing the prince caress her one finger, as though that represents affection to him, is quite sad. Worse still, though, is what comes after the 7-minute mark, when he is asked if they're in love. "Whatever 'in love' means," he responds.

Understandably, there's a lot of speculation as to whether a similar fate will befall Kate Middleton, the fiancee of Diana's son Prince William. It seemed a bad omen to use Diana's engagement ring to start this marriage, but maybe that's just superstition. Certainly the press will follow their every move, but the couple has already had a lengthy courtship and are both 28, on a more even footing even though Kate is considered a commoner. Let's hope that in this case history doesn't repeat itself. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting the Scoop

Journalism is in a sad state when you're more likely to get breaking news from a check-out stand tabloid than the New York Times. But more and more, gossip rags like The National Enquirer, which once featured front-page stories on Bat Boy or Nostrodamus' predictions of world annihilation, are scooping their more esteemed colleagues in the Fourth Estate.

That was the case with the sad news that Motown legend Aretha Franklin is suffering from -- and most likely dying from -- pancreatic cancer. While other news agencies were gingerly approaching the subject of the singer's recent hospitalization, the Enquirer wasn't afraid to make the announcement -- just as it did with the revelation of John Edwards' affair and paternity issues involving his videographer. 

Fortunately, you can still count on wide-ranging journalistic takes on current events and celebrity news. Case in point: two side-by-side publications currently on the new stands: