and to avoid doing what i so often criticize the daily mail for doing, imma tell you right up front which of The Things it is:
*will and kate
*beyonce and jay-z
*hillary and obama
*eric garner and michael brown
i always joke that the daily mail is rigorous in the extreme in condensing the full content of their articles into the subheading of the post. let this be a testament to the richness of this piece…
so will and kate are in new york.
the empire state building is lit red, white and blue…
because, y’know, “imperial” colors. conveniently also american colors. except perhaps these are different colors because…
lest you think the mail has invented a new color, yesterday, they called the duchess “Hate” so let’s just assume their proof-reader has the week off.
so “hate” and the man with the title i keep mis-typing as “duck” are in new york and they’re meeting some people.
prolly listening to a lot of this:
would that they were also meeting these people:
(omg, vanessa ruins everything.)
blair waldorf, let us not forget, was ever so briefly a grimaldi. before, y’know…
anyway, william flew to dc and met some people…
whilst kate went to harlem where she was mistaken for the princess from frozen…
wrapped some presents:
and attended this meeting with ridiculously ginormo tabletents:
that someone instagrammed with a terrible filter.
upon william’s return, they met the clintons.
who are either waaaaaaaaaaaay petite or kate and william are giants or the photographer is 12 feet tall or a combination of all three.
and then. the ballgame.
which, first, i’m pretty sure william is pedantic man.
right??! i imagine he spent the whole game explaining the game to kate, which doesn’t sound like fun.
anyway, so the ballgame. which is where things get interesting. not, mind you, because of this…
but because this:
so this article just took A Turn.
there was no word of this in the header, which- remember- was nearly 250 words long and told us, amongst other things, what beyonce and kate were wearing and that the “royal couple were separated.” (again: proofreader, where art thou?)
there’s TEENY TINY mentions of garner in the article itself. just this:
another sentence, plus, the caption of this photograph mentions michael brown:
so the references that are made are about lebron wearing the shirt and the protest, and they’re almost non sequitors…
this feels so so random as a reader, these abrupt shifts towards and pivots away from these protests. it’s obviously a part of the story: the protest was both inside and outside the arena and it is explicitly linked to concerns for the duke and duchess’s safety.
but it’s a small part of the story, it’s not the main story. and it’s a small enough part of the story that one wonders what it’s doing there.
there are 82 pictures here. only 6 of them are on the protests.
this is not a story about the protests. it is the story of the duke and duchess in america, but the inclusion of the protests acts as a provocative interruption, a slice of reality intruding into the fairytale of the british royalty coming to america and meeting american pop royalty- which was what this story was billed as being about.
the protests are introduced half-way into an article that is essentially the longest photo essay of all time/the most boring celebrity-studded vacay pics you will ever see.
they appear after william has purchased popcorn.
as if that weren’t awkward enough, the photograph directly preceding images of lebron’s shirt is this:
where will and kate are met by the man whose hand we previously met in this photo:
ok, so, bear with me… in my characteristically circuitous way, i’m now going to try to make this all Mean Something in terms of celebrity and media.
in writing about jackie, i’m always trying to push the idea of how celebrity trickles down into daily lived experience. like how my mother remembers waking up ridiculously early and putting on her make-up for work while watching the wedding of charles and diana in 1981 and i have a similar memory of 2011. these celebrity events become memories of our own.
those are rather grand examples. it’s not always grand.
because i was going through a breakup at the same time as jessica simpson in 2005, she will always hold a soft-spot in my heart.
celebrity trickles down and becomes interwoven into everyday experience. so that i remember my own break-up through jessica simpson’s, i remember watching will and kate’s wedding because i was really excited about the pancake breakfast we were having after. the trickle down imbues our everyday experience if not with a touch of glamor then at least a link to it.
it goes the other way too, which is what we see here. and so, with will and kate and this daily mail story of their visit to america, there’s spillage of the everyday- ie. the protests around the garner and brown cases, which are occurring at the local level in a number of cities right now– into what is essentially a celebrity story.
that’s a problematic statement because it seems to banalize (wow- that is actually a word) the protests, putting them on par with my break-up or my pancake breakfast, when what i’m actually trying to suggest is the slippage of the concerns of everyday life- encompassing breakfast and break-ups but also political protest, social inequality, etc.- into the celebrity realm. (slippage is really too gentle a term as this is more of a collision.)
and yes, even that contention on the slippage of everyday concerns into the celebrity realm is problematized here by the fact that half the slippage here is celebritized by dint of it’s being lebron and his teammates wearing “i can’t breathe” t-shirts rather than non-celebrity protesters. maybe the daily mail would have included this element of the duke and duchess story without that, but there are 6 photos having to do with garner/brown and 3 are of athletes, so it seems unlikely.
this is news-lite, mind you. there are minimal details. you wouldn’t learn a lot about the garner and brown cases from the daily mail‘s photo captions, and the mail doesn’t go into the protests in-depth, or really even in shallow, as it’s not noted that they’re known as “die-ins”- a phrase that seems ripe for the melodrama of the daily mail, one which the daily mail is aware of (per this article critiquing the inability of protesters to play dead because they keep checking their phones where the mail has CSIed a bunch ‘o photos to illustrate this), but also a phrase which maybe doesn’t fit alongside pics of the duke and duchess.
because, let’s be real, this is essentially a duke and duchess propaganda piece.
BUT. there’s something about the proximity of this:
the shot that comes directly after it.
the protest introduces a pathos into this article on pretty people, which is why it is doubly-jarring. it feels intrusive, disruptive. it sits uneasily alongside everything else, like the woman who, using context clues, appears to have been a seat warmer for dikembe mutombo, but whose presence is never explained and whose dress looks like an apron.
i am reminded of the new york city matron co-chairing a benefit on the evening of the october 1969 moratorium to end the war, who gave an interview to the new york times about her event wherein she editorialized about the slowness of president nixon’s vietnam withdrawal by likening it to moving out of an apartment and having to clear out all the closets. reading that in 2014, i thought, girl, you were on the wrong side of history.
the inclusion of the protests makes everyone else in this article look deeply ridiculous: #blacklivesmatter vs. bey meeting kate/hillary meeting kate/the president meeting kate/kate meeting kids/kate wrapping a present/william schooling everyone on everything because he is pedantic man.
it makes everyone looks ridiculous to the extent that i wonder why the daily mail has included these images, as what they represent undercuts the mail‘s attempt to convey william and kate’s great importance and the very great significance of their meeting bey and jay-z and william’s going to the white house for the first time. here, will and kate appear impotent.
maybe these images were an afterthought, thrown in to tip the scales past 80 pictures.
maybe the daily mail bought them and figured they might as well use them.
maybe they’re planning a longer article on lebron for later in the day.
maybe it’s me, maybe i’m reading too deeply.
but it’s the daily mail… so shallow that it begs to be read deeply because it casts in HUGE GLARE things that are otherwise difficult to see.
there’s something simultaneously so tone-deaf and so titanic about this article on will and kate in america that it puts in stark relief not just the disconnect between celebrity and non-celebrity experience but the grave disconnects within my own country, raising the possibility that this is actually what coming to america means: sitting at a basketball game, meeting celebrities, and pretending to be unaffected by all else.
reading this article, i assume either they are doomed or we are doomed. i cannot tell which.