by Kat Rosenfield
Thursday, 15
September 2022
Reaction
17:05

Hollywood turns the Queen’s death into a season finale

It didn't take long before celebrities started tweeting for clout
by Kat Rosenfield
Chrissy Teigen (L) dressed as the Queen for Halloween in 2018

There has been something distinctly American about the way in which my country has mourned the Queen. Yes, the flags are at half-mast, but the overwhelming reaction to Elizabeth II’s death has been intrigue, excitement, and nakedly opportunistic attempts to capitalise on it for clout.

The celebrity responses ran the gamut — from Cher’s bizarre (and slightly braggy) tweet declaring her pride in sharing an astrological sign with the Queen, to Kanye West’s typical but distasteful Instagram post linking her death to his own endless interpersonal dramas, to Chrissy Teigen’s ham-handed joke about her husband getting bumped from the Today show after the news broke. Everyone who’d ever had a photo op with the Queen took this moment to resurface it. Few people seemed to be seriously grieving.

The Queen’s death was received in certain corners of the US like something made for television, the season finale of a show we’d been watching all our lives — and in some of the darker corners of Twitter, the discourse surrounding it became quickly and frankly unhinged. The whole thing resembled a competition to see who could be the least sorry for Britain’s loss. The Queen was a coloniser, a racist, a racist coloniser; the Queen had banned ethnic minorities from working in Buckingham Palace; the Queen had personally victimised Princess Diana and Meghan Markle.

The most-discussed post, from Carnegie Mellon University professor Uju Anya, declared a desire that the Queen be punished in her last moments for the sins of the British Empire: “I hear the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating,” she wrote. That Anya would express such a sentiment publicly reflects not just malice but a disconnect from reality, an inability to comprehend the difference between the villainous monarch character who lived in her imagination and the flesh-and-blood reality of a 96-year-old woman, dying in a bed, surrounded by a family who loved her.

The truth is that the life of the Queen, by American celebrity standards, is almost disappointing. The rigid expectations, the lack of independence, the drudgery of being shuttled from place to place to host this event or that opening is not the Cinderella story we might expect. That’s why American starlets who’ve married into monarchy — Grace Kelly in Monaco, Meghan Markle in England — have been subject to famously rude awakenings as to the realities of the royal life, as has an American public who expected the whole thing to be much more like a fairy tale. When the only princesses you’ve ever seen are the Disney variety, it gives certain ideas about what it means to be royal.

Now the 96-year-old woman’s body is lying in state in London, with people queuing by the thousands to pay their respects. The slow shuffle of mourners past the coffin is anything but glamorous, and wholly unsensational; if this moment were to be depicted on a future season of The Crown, the throngs will be just a blur in the background of some interpersonal drama (perhaps over Meghan’s reported snubbing from the deathbed gathering at Balmoral.) And perhaps that’s how it should be for Americans, who never really understood what it means to be the Queen. We’ve only ever loved a fantasy version of her, glossed-up and dumbed down and filtered by scripts and screens. This moment isn’t for us.

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Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
21 days ago

Can you imagine if a white professor had posted something similar about the feted Mandela? A reasonable position for some to take too given that he supported domestic terrorism at one stage.
They’d be blasted out of post by all and sundry in a tsunami of social media posts that would probably ‘break the internet’. But I’m sure the IT Crowd would fix it again.
Yeah free speech rules! For some.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ian Stewart
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
21 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

That professor had better hope that “karma” is not a thing.

Delia Barkley-Delieu
Delia Barkley-Delieu
21 days ago

“I hear the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.”

The words of Carnegie Mellon Professor Uju Anya.
I do hope those brutal words illustrating her repulsive lack of compassion and absence of decency and restraint, reach a larger audience and the woman is shamed and humiliated.
She is supposedly an intelligent person?

Last edited 21 days ago by Delia Barkley-Delieu
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
21 days ago

If she is the flower of America’s intelligence and intellect then they are in even deeper trouble than I thought. But thankfully, going by the Americans I know, she is simply part of a small, nasty, irrational minority. The fact that she is in such a high position is worrying.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
21 days ago

Sadlyit will more likely be applauded as a “howl of legitimate pain” and “speaking truth to power”.

Buena Vista
Buena Vista
21 days ago

I am an American, and am dismayed that I and many like me are tarred by the broad brush approach of this article.
One need not be a native of GB to know that HM the Queen was her Kingdom’s servant. Her love of her realm and devotion to duty were beyond description. Her grace will long be unmatched by anyone that ever occupies the world stage, past or present.

Last edited 21 days ago by Buena Vista
J Bryant
J Bryant
21 days ago

“The business of America is business,” as Calvin Coolidge supposedly said. Make a buck at every opportunity, even if that means disrespecting a dead queen.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
21 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The pot is calling the kettle black. Look at what the British celebrity industry did to Princess Diana.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
20 days ago
Reply to  Betsy Arehart

Diana did it to herself.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
21 days ago

Among the bizarre, unhinged and frankly hateful things I have read about the Queen in the past few days, one statement stands out for its ignorance and presumptuousness: that the Queen was in favour of apartheid and actively supported it. Words fail me, really. Where do you even start with that? These “victimhood at any price” people don’t let facts get in the way of a good whinge…
But putting these awful ignoramuses aside, I find the response across America really quite touching – regardless of whether it’s coming from a place of deep misunderstanding about the nature and place of monarchy in the British constitution and psyche.

Vivek Rajkhowa
Vivek Rajkhowa
21 days ago

That American professor is a moron. She should ask why her country has so many Muslims. Hint, it wasn’t through choice.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
21 days ago

Just one thing, Grace Kelly was no starlet.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
21 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Yes, she was a STAR (possibly mega or at least super).