The new issue of the always excellent Prospect has a great debate between Andrew Marr and Joan Smith about whether the mass emotionalism that followed Diana’s death, and is now a regular part of our national life, is a good thing or not.
Andrew Marr argues that thanks to it:
"We are a more relaxed and more emotionally healthy people than we used to be, and the “Diana moment,” for all its weirdness and excess, marked this change. It was a telling national catharsis, and the moment too when “holding it all in” was no longer seen as a virtue.
I like what we have become. I like the footballers’ hugs, and the rude musical girl power of Lily Allen, and the disrespect for unearned authority, and the fact that gay people can amble around the centre of our cities unconcernedly.”
While Joan Smith counters that to her the very public grief for Diana
“looked much less benign, an abrupt shift in which the shock waves from the death legitimised not just being in touch with your emotions but a kind of emotional exhibitionism. I’ve sometimes thought that Diana’s death was the first in a series of coercive moments in which we are told what the national mood is—sorrow, joy, anger, triumph—and that we’d bloody well better join in with it. The link I’d make here isn’t to Mediterranean or indeed middle eastern culture, where grief and celebration have always been performed much more publicly, but to Big Brother and the whole phenomenon of “reality” television. If Diana were alive today, do you really think she would be able to resist an invitation to appear in the next series of Celebrity Big Brother?”
What do you think?