Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 21, No. 6, 2022
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Robert J. Lewis
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Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

a victim of go-girl culture?

Liz Hodgson


For more of Liz, visit her fashion/brenda website.


Is it just me or did Meghan Markle seem out of sorts at the Queen’s funeral? It’s no secret she didn’t receive the warmest of welcomes. According to the tabloids she was uninvited to a state dinner, shunted back behind the VVIPs at the various services and seemed to spend most of her stay dodging the stink-eye from other members of the Royal family.

Lolly—a London-based friend and expert in royal dress protocol—tells me Meghan’s choice of hat was a bit of a faux pas. Here are Princess Kate and the Queen Consort discussing it:

Camilla: We need a word about that hat.

Kate: What about it?

Camilla: It’s lovely but it’s more suited to a garden party. Not a state funeral. Also, where’s her veil? Veils, while not mandatory, are highly suggested on these occasions.

Kate: Have her arrested and beheaded. She won’t be making that mistake again. (stifles a laugh)

Judging by her expression and body language, I couldn’t escape the feeling she was stinging with regret over how she handled Megxit. It’s like she was thinking . . . oh crap. I believe I may have fucked myself royally (pun intended). Perhaps that Oprah interview, though plenty lucrative, wasn’t the best idea in the world?

Maybe she feels that way. Maybe not. But, according to Lolly, a consequence of her behaviour toward her in-laws was finding herself 6000 miles from home and not a single royal dresser willing to dress her. “She’s toxic,” says Lolly. “They wouldn’t return her calls.”

Had she one reliable friend to help her navigate Royal life, poor Meghan would never have found herself in such an admittedly high-class predicament. Fame is a whirlwind. Get caught up in it and it becomes a challenge to discern good advice from bad.

Intensified by an emperor-has-no-clothes dynamic, the toxic impact of 21st century Millennial ‘you go girl’ culture appears to have trapped Meghan in a vortex of praise where uttering anything short of full-throated encouragement makes you a frenemy and honesty is mistaken for jealousy. That Meghan surrounds herself with fawning flatterers became all too apparent with the first episode of her Spotify podcast “Archetypes.” Below is a sampling of blandishments exchanged between her and guest Serena Williams (careful not to slip in my vomit):

Serena: I love you. Anything you want me to do I’m gonna do. I believe in you.

Meghan: You are such an amazing mom.

Serena: I think you’re fearless.

Meghan: You look beautiful.

Serena: I want you to understand what it meant to have your support.

Meghan: You made pregnancy look so sexy.

Serena: I love how you speak to me.

Can you imagine two grown men speaking to each other like that? Also, I heard Spotify just had these T-shirts made up:

We spent 20+ million on Meghan Markle’s podcast and all we got was a fawning, syrupy mutual tongue bath.

Having a friend fluff up your ego now and then is one thing. Lubricating famous friends with gushes of love who in turn gush more love back into a bottomless pit of self-obsession is quite another. There’s a reason people mistrust praise: it’s not nearly as valuable as constructive criticism. Had one of Meghan’s pals held back on the ‘yass queens’ and ‘you-go-girls’ for a minute, Meghan’s time at the Queen’s funeral might have been less awkward and relations with her in-laws less thorny. Now she finds herself not only persona non grata in London Royal circles, she doesn’t rate much anymore in Hollywood, where royalty carries weight but being a royal pariah does not.

First cousin of ‘you go girl’ culture is ‘I’m sorry this is happening to you’ culture. The idea being that ‘lived experience’–IE how you feel emotionally–should triumph over facts. Empathy is non-negotiable. Even if the problem seems trifling, you must bleed compassion when what you’re really thinking is ‘this is a first-world problem and you need to buck up.’

Discussing the hardships they face as pampered, global multimillionaire superstars, Serena shares a story of her baby suffering a broken wrist, how she rocked the crying infant through the night and still managed to get up the next day and win a French Open match, on less than an hour’s sleep.

Not to be outdone, Meghan shares her own harrowing tale of being on tour in South Africa and a heater in her baby’s room catching fire (the baby was not in the room at the time, was unharmed and the reported ‘fire’ has since been downgraded to merely ‘smoke’). “The moment we arrived,” Meghan recounts, “we had to drop him off at this housing unit they had us staying in . . . ”

Hold on . . . a ‘housing unit?’ Meaning something like this?

Erm, not exactly. This was the ‘housing unit’ where the family was forced to stay:

“We came back,” she goes on to say, “and, of course, as a mother, you go, ‘oh my God, what?’ Everyone’s in tears, everyone’s shaken. And what do we have to do? Go out and do another official engagement. I said, ‘this doesn’t make any sense.’”

Here’s me:

Here’s Serena Williams: “I couldn’t have done that.”

Wait . . . wut? You just humble-bragged about staying up all night with a crying baby and waking up after an hour’s sleep to win a match at a major tournament. You have 23 Grand Slam singles titles and were ranked Number 1 for 319 weeks. Didn’t you mention something about growing up in crime-ridden Compton and learning to play tennis on public courts littered with syringes, against the background noise of gunfire from drive-by shootings? Yet you couldn’t have endured a measly three-hour official engagement?

It’s all hindsight but Meghan should have brushed up on her warcraft. I’m thinking of the famous Emmerson quote, paraphrased by Omar Little in The Wire: “You come at the king, you best not miss.” As it stands, Meghan’s Oprah disclosures only wounded the King, along with his late mother the Queen. For this, she and Harry were booed at the Platinum Jubilee and now occupy a space on the Royal Family website way down ‘below the fold’ (as they call it in journalism), alongside a thoroughly disgraced Prince Andrew.

I feel for Meghan. The press has been hard on her at times. As an outsider marrying into Prince Harry’s rarefied circle, she’s surely endured a few supercilious glares from some of the snobbiest bitches on planet earth. It’s not like there’s a manual out there about how to marry into a 1200-year-old royal dynasty. If not a manual, these newcomers deserve at least some helpful words to live by . . . something along the lines of the Serenity Prayer, from which members of AA the world over take inspiration, but tailored to our pathologically narcissistic era…

God, grant me the humility to graciously accept a genuine compliment . . .

The impulse to run when someone’s blowing smoke up my ass…

And the wisdom to know the difference.






Arts & Opinion, a bi-monthly, is archived in the Library and Archives Canada.
ISSN 1718-2034


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