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[pic]It’s 13 years since the start of the weirdest episode in recent British history: the mass hysteria that followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, on August 31, 1997. The Princess’s death was a tragedy, as were those of her lover and driver, but it was a tragedy for her sons and other loved ones. For the assembled mass of mawkish weirdoes who cried empty tears for this stranger, her death was nothing more than an excuse for an orgy of sentimentality. Sentimentality is the subject of Theodore Dalrymple’s newly-published Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality, which looks at how this poisonous emotion has taken hold of society. Sentimentality, in which crude emotion replaces dispassionate analysis, affects all aspects of public life, such as the debates over education, prison places and overseas aid. As Dalrymple points out, no country has ever escaped poverty via international aid – but never mind, since what matters is not actually doing anything about state education or crime or Africa, but being seen to be caring about the “vulnerable”. Princess Diana was perhaps the queen of sentimentality in life, in her public support for the most fashionable of causes and her own public dramas, and in death she led an emotional revolution, when the Queen was bullied into showing she was grief-stricken by the tabloid press and the mob of simpletons that surrounded the palace. For in a world ruled by sentimentality, public outpourings of grief have long replaced dignity and self-restraint, so that the mob distrusts people who don't blub. As Dalrymple writes:
“Where is our flag?” asked a newspaper headline, and “Show us you care” shouted the crowd outside Buckingham Palace (perhaps by laying a teddy bear on one of the piles of stuffed toys that had already accumulated in impromptu shrines around the country). The fact that the monarch was by then quite advanced in years was of no account to them; for in a society in whose culture youth is not only the fount of all wisdom and the touchstone of worth, but is treated both as an aspiration and an achievement, no respect is due to age, nor any effort made to enter into the worldview of someone born in a different age. In the state of righteous indignation, which is “sentimentality in its angry phase”, complete strangers were demanding an elderly women cry for her lost daughter-in-law. I remember at the time feeling like a complete alien in my own country, almost as if an invading army had spiked the water supply and everyone had gone bonkers overnight. And I imagine I wasn’t the only one that week who came away thinking that traditional English reserve wasn’t such a bad thing after all, and better the whole country had emotional constipation rather than diarrhoea – at least we had some dignity and respect. Thirteen years on, the whole episode still gives me the creeps. • Oh, lighten up, Ed.
Diana was one of those women who just get more and more beautiful until they die tragically aged 36. It's the Marilyn Monroe story. All men are sad to see a beautiful woman die. And all women see in her themselves reflected. It's not going to happen again anytime soon.
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09/08/2010 02:16 PM
Would this “mawkish weirdoes” hysteria be just an excuse of its own life’s tragedy? • [pic]Recommended by 1 person
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09/07/2010 03:19 PM
I was living abroad at the time and I found the episode to be incredibly strange but I put it down to only fans of Diana although something niggled away at me regarding my conclusion. When I returned in 2005 the answers started to become clear that the majority of this countries people had become completely brainwashed by the BBC and the leftists agenda. Its the biggest...