A long time ago in the refectory of a college, eating a cheese and pickle sandwich, a thought came to mind. “Sometimes there is no option other than to be an unmitigated bastard”, and then Diana died a few weeks later. Not that the event in itself particularly affected me, though I was really upset when told, as there was a woman that worked with me called Diana and I thought all the fuss was over her and not the princess; nascent seeds were being sown.
The press that one week before had been calling her a slut, the worst princess to have ever disgraced the monarchy, the cheater, the deserter, the one who should lose her title and stop bringing so much shame to the country and so on and so forth, all of a sudden had a revelation. She wasn't really an attention seeking whore at all, or even a disgrace of a person, and how on earth could the monarchy be so cruel to someone who was obviously a saint?
Here I choose to sit firmly on the fence. It is sad when someone dies, particularly the mother of two young children, and even more so when it was due to abject stupidity as in this case. It is sad when it is someone who has done charitable work, who has represented causes and brought them to the attention of the masses. It is also true that public figures need to be careful about what they say and what they do, as this is a part of the duty that comes with the enormous amount of wealth left at their disposal. Many of their actions are staged, and many are being told what to do at different times and on different occasions. It is probably also a large part of the reason that we are so shocked when we find someone away from the public eye captured doing things that other human beings do, and receive no criticism for doing. It isn't rare for someone to have an affair, or for someone to do one thing and say another, but it suddenly becomes a lot more important when that person is famous or a public figure of great responsibility.
Where there is no sense at all is in the reaction of the press (both gutter and broadsheet) at one moment calling the woman the devil incarnate, and the next using “English rose” as a description. People who one week were calling Diana a whore were in the same breath, and not more than two days later, calling her the greatest woman ever to grace the royal family.
Never had this been more apparent than today, one year after the death of Michael Jackson. Once again we are looking at a public figure who was at one moment accused of being a child molesting freak who drugged and raped children under the guise of love and affection: upon his premature death in very sad circumstances society all of a sudden re-crown him the King of Pop, adulate him, love him again and recognise all of his genius with an “I knew the truth all along” attitude.
Many of us dream of being remembered for many years after our death, for people to still talk about us, for people to still wonder at our great works – (Ozymandias anyone?) and many would like to be permitted into the pantheon of the never forgotten heroes that will survive in popular memory for as long as memory permits. I would suggest, however, that perhaps some people deserve to be remembered whilst still alive. That in this age where information is so available worldwide, not just local backwater press where Mrs Dunstable's prize winning marrows are all anyone can talk about, we need to be more informed, to perhaps let the crimes be sorted by professionals, and maybe recognise talent where it exists and when it is still in existence.
Human beings are precisely that. Human. Just because someone is capable of doing incredible things, doesn't mean they're a nice person to know, or a person you can admire for their grand personality. Equally well, it doesn't mean that they are walking examples for contraception. None of us are totally evil, nor are we saints; we all fall pretty much in between the two, though there are obviously exceptions (I suppose even Jeffrey Dhamer's mum thought he was a lovely boy).
So, just maybe, sometimes, there is indeed no other option to be an unmitigated bastard,
“Oh how ingenious the centuries of lies,
Ezekiel's chariots streak across the skies.
Holy books and history texts forget,
Because we know,
Souls are resurrected in the death and resurrection show.” (Killing Joke)