An Inclusive Litany

8/3/98

The London Sunday Times reports that Disney is co-producing a children's cartoon about the late Princess Diana that confronts the difficult issues of her failed marriage to Prince Charles and her struggles with eating disorders. Nicholas Allan, author of the inappropriately titled book, The Happy Princess, on which the cartoon is based, says that far from being in bad taste, the show may prove to be a useful therapeutic device. "Parents have told me their children need something to help them cope with Diana's death," Allan commented.

U.S. News & World Report notes that Diana is also emerging as popular academic subject matter. Lecturing in Bristol, Diana scholar Tim Dartington spoke, in a dramatic whisper, of Diana as "mother, madonna, whore," and, inexplicably, as a "homeless rent boy." She "died of road rage," he said, a victim of "the damned reaching out to pull the living into their hell." Many anthologies are in the works, including Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning, from Australia's University of Western Sydney. One of the volume's authors declares that "Dianaland would evolve from a saccharine wedding ride into a fatal sadomasochistic pleasuredome." Another author observes: "As cannibalistic mourners, Diana and the public which tirelessly consumed her in death as in life, both represent aspects of the one digestive system." Another evaluates Diana's public image thus: "The postmodern saint [Diana] disrupts standards and customs, generally through excessive forms of behavior where such excess has the possibility to expose any contradictions at play in the legitimation of institutional culture."

Speaking of digestive systems, Princess Diana's memorial fund made a deal to put its official Di logo on plastic tubs of margarine. A British publisher also released Poems for a Princess, a collection of 1,562 amateur tributes to Diana, which included the lines "She touched our hearts, filled a void / Her sudden death has left us annoyed."

And from their headquarters in Poona, India, the followers of the late guru and free-love advocate Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh, who was deported from the U.S. in 1985 on immigration-fraud charges and who died in 1990, issued a directive for Diana's chronic grievers. The recommended procedure starts with "deep, fast, chaotic" breathing, followed by "total catharsis," to expel the bad emotions stirred up by the breathing. Mourners must then jump up high with arms raised while shouting, "Hoo!" followed by total silence until they feel like dancing. This regimen should be followed for 21 days.

Finally, when it started to rain at an outdoor concert dedicated to the memory of Diana, singer and "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff prayed to Diana to make the rain stop. It did.

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