• Daniel Ethan Finneran

On Meghan, Harry, and Oprah

"Rose the Sultana from a bed of splendor,

Softer than the soft Sybarite’s, who cried

Aloud because her feelings were too tender

To brook a ruffled rose-leaf by her side,--

So beautiful that art could little mend her,

Though pale with conflicts between love and pride: --

So agitated was she with her error,

She did not even look into the mirror."

Lord Byron, Don Juan

The Sultana, in our case, is none other than America’s favorite expatriate actress, the eyesome Meghan Markle, the biracial California-native to whom, if only briefly, Britain’s esteemed and ancient monarchy enjoyed, by way of a connubial bond, an ephemeral claim. The bed of splendor from which she’s risen, to which a sensuous, pleasure-loving Sybarite such as she unfailingly repairs each elegant night, is not so very different from that on to which, with the arrival of the day’s end, she’ll yet again collapse. In a word, from royalty has she descended, and upon royalty (or, better yet, royalties—depending on the compensation packages with which the massive entertainment companies, Netflix and Spotify will, to the tune of $100 million and $25 million respectively, award her) she’ll once again land.

A catalogue of her misfortunes, those many ruffled rose-leaves by which we, a jobless, pandemic-stricken, hungry, contentious, wearied proletariat not quite bedewed, frankly, by the briny salt of princess tears, could only hope to be vexed, was divulged on Sunday evening for all the world to hear. Markle, radiant beneath the glow of her newly enceinte state, a certain refulgent beauty by which even the most discreet of pregnancies aren’t long concealed, unbosomed her thoughts, her anxieties, her hopes and her fears to that one person to whom such intimacies are so easily relinquished, and such secrets unreservedly given: the uncontested matriarch of media, the goddess of gab, the courtesan of conversation, the one and only Oprah Winfrey.

The interview transpired at the fallen-Duchess’s vast Hollywood estate, a capacious, verdant—one might even say, palatial villa not unlike that from which, though many miles to the East and across the broad Atlantic, she so recently fled. It was at about this time, quite near the interview’s quaint beginning, that my interest in its sacred contents precipitously dropped. As “B-roll” captured the three (Markle, Prince Harry, and the omnipresent Oprah) attending to a flock of curious chickens, the entranced viewer (nearly as henpecked for having watched this lengthy CBS “special” as husband Harry for having allowed it) was dutifully informed that the young family was getting “back to basics” and “returning to normal”.

How refreshing of her, the multi-million–dollar actress-turned-princess-turned-actress, to say. Do we not all likewise dream of an inconspicuous retirement into a bucolic forest, a land through which none but the wind can peak? Do we not all similarly lean into the enticement of a sylvan existence, a place from which meddlesome and noisy humans are barred access?

This struck the humble audience member, a thrifty man joined by a comely wife, into whose empty bank account, a dribble of government lucre hesitatingly spills, as somewhat grating. Markle, now liberated from the suffocating constraints of ducal life, a world lavishly supported by the British taxpayer and his loyal endowment was—at long last—returning to a forgotten simplicity, a veritable paradise lost. She was returning to the frugal, unostentatious life from which she was painfully and, if we’re to believe her story, somewhat unwillingly detached. She was, after so long and dreary a duration of time abroad, and after so many state visits to a commonwealth upon which the obdurate sun refuses to set, returning to the temperate and native clime in which she felt most at home, and for whose quiet modesty she’d always desperately yearned.

This delightful picture painted by Markle and Oprah is, of course, grossly misleading and a bit offensive, if one’s to be honest. A return to normality? –said she, as if to appeal to the humble, workaday, universal spirit with which we’re all equally shot through. She did so, mind you, while confessing to being the neighbor of Oprah, that very woman by whom this exclusive, news-breaking interview was being led, the brilliant, iconic media magnate behind whom over two billion dollars currently rests. If this be normal, might we all have a piece?

It was at this point, after Markle’s earnest declaration of a need for solitude, rusticity, distance, and a less intrusive and demeaning press, that the high-definition CBS cameras spanned the luxuriant patio atop which the rather expensive-looking “scene” was set. The professional crew by which this heavy and impressive equipment was operated ensured the detection of its every dazzling inch. The limitless lawn in the background, with which the mountainous horizon converged, reflected all fertility, profit, and health. As are all yards owned by so many “simple” Americans with whom her “hometown” lot’s now liberally cast, hers was punctuated by towering Ionic columns, beautiful and sturdy pillars around which, as if physically graced by the gentle statuary touch of the Greeks, meticulously-manicured vines languidly wrapped.

I confess, it was at this point in the interview—rather premature, granted—that I abandoned the show to which, unblinkingly, every other eye in America seems to have been fixed. I can’t say that I didn’t try to be intrigued by the shocking accusations it had to offer, or that I didn’t try to find alluring the secrets of majesty to which none but a few is privy, but my small and feeble effort was completely spent. I could find no reserve with which to supplant my dying attention, and thus, it faded to a joyless dark. No longer could I tolerate the mawkish, inauthentic scene to which I was so unmercifully exposed, and, in protest, I sought higher entertainment elsewhere in my home. I found myself soon thereafter staring at a nearby wall, and was much more delighted by the phlegmatic and honest performance to which I was quietly treated. It’s an unsmiling style of a rather subtle genre for which patience is called, and refinement needed.

If it means not having to listen to the hollow complaints of a couple of prodigal royals, a pair of petulant elites who’s abdicated a throne and a title, in order to usurp that far greater treasure—the diadem of victimhood, that resplendent crown by which every head imagines itself encircled—I’d commit my attention to nearly any other scene. I’ll waste not a minute longer watching this newest version of the tyranny of the woke, as it tries to convince us of its rightful power, its genuine grievance, and the legitimacy of its claim. America, I hope, will never be so deceived. She’ll neither stand to be so utterly meek nor so willingly enslaved, and she’ll not soon deign to the wiles of such illiberal behavior from so unremarkable a pair of Anglo-American arrivistes.

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