Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The story that just won't Di

In an effort to help people make sense of the traumatic process of grieving, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified the five key stages that people go through.

At first we experience denial and isolation. followed by anger and bargaining. Atfter that comes a period of depression, before we finally move on to acceptance. Unfortunately, it seems as though the editorial staff at The Daily Express have been stuck in phase two for over 12 years. 

When Princess Diana died, the entire nation went into shock at the news of this much loved young women, and mother of two, killed in a tragic accident. But after countless retrospective documentaries, thousands of commemorative plates, and an Elton John song that spent long enough at number one for him to regrow an entire head of hair, we moved on.

Meanwhile, the Daily Express refuses to let go. Trapped in phase two for the rest of eternity, it continues to churn out conspiracy theories, tributes and speculative articles in the hope of keeping the memory of the People's Princess alive. In 2006, just for fun, The Guardian ran a study and found that nine years after Diana's death, the Express ran 36 headline stories in just six months. Favourites include "Diana's death: poison expert called in" (unusual for a car crash) and "Perhaps Diana should have worn seatbelt".

Even now, any mention of Diana can stir up a storm of excitement in the pressroom, so much so that any semblance of journalistic integrity goes out of the window. Which is the only possible explanation for the stunningly ill-informed article that the Express ran yesterday.

They're disgusted by the publication of a comic book called Female Force: Princess Diana, which tells her story in illustrated form. You'd think that they'd be happy to have a lavishly rendered book celebrating the life of their favourite martyr, but apparently that's not the case.

Rather than do anything so outrageous as actually read the book they're savaging, the Express simply roped in Margeret Funnell, co-founder of a group called the Diana Circle UK dedicated to the Princess' memory, to condemn it for them. Funnell fumes “It’s disgusting...they could have done it with lovely stories. They didn’t need to stoop to this. I find it quite cruel them showing the funeral. Had she lived until she was 85 and had a lovely life, that would be different."

The publishers of the comic, Bluewater, have issued a strongly worded response, pointing out that it's an accurate and completely respectful biography, with nothing salacious or controversial in its pages. Judging by the artwork published online, Female Force: Princess Diana is about as shocking as the comic strip life stories that Look-In magazine used to publish in weekly installments.

Speaking for the mental faculties of her group, Ms Funnell comments “Anyone with half a brain who had a love for Diana will hate it.” After all, what exactly is the point of a group dedicated to remembering Princess Diana:

"Remember Diana?"
"Me too. Same time next month?"
"See you then."

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