If there's been two people I've admired in my adult life it's been Alex Higgins and Christopher Hitchens . They both have entirely different backgrounds . Higgins was a working class lad from the back streets of Belfast while Hitchens was born in to a life of relative privilege a fact reflected that Hitchens went to a public school followed by university while Higgins had little secondary education. That said they have very similar personalities where they'd fight individuals and institutions , literally in Higgins case , metaphorically in Hitchens case . Their lifestyles also involved copious amounts of cigarettes and alcohol which meant both men died at a relatively early age . To me the world is a much poorer place without them
Hitchens made a follow up of sorts to the 1994 short documentary HELLS ANGEL that tore apart the nauseating hyperbolic world view of Mother Theresa of Calcutta called DIANA THE MOURNING AFTER that suggests Diana Princess of Wales wasn't worth the public display of grief that the entire country of Britain seemed to be conscripted in to circa late 1997 as the death and funeral of the former princess took place and Hitchens asks " What was and is the significence of the death of the princess ? "
Hitchens never pulls punches and from the outset as he describes the death of Diana as being " cruelly and abruptly translated from the banal to sublime . After putting on the Ritz with her jet-set playboy escort she got in to a car with a hyped up driver. Minutes later her life was wastefully and pointlessly over . Wasteful , pointless but meaningless ? For millions of people this accident was no less than a personal tragedy "
Cut to the myriad of pilgrims who felt they had to take to the streets to grieve the lost of someone they didn't know . The term hadn't been invented yet but such people would be described as " Grief whores " a strange , morbid phenomena who feel the need in engage in public flagellation wailing like banshees stating that because they are grieving louder than anyone else they must be a better human being than anyone else. So Hitchens interviews a man who has complained to the British press that the press coverage of Diana's death was OTT . What the media are essentially doing is telling us we must mourn the death of someone we have never met " This is how you should feel which is rather obscene "
Hitchens tries to set the record straight that not everyone in Britain was a grief whore that week . The problem was that it was so difficult to hear a contrarian view since very few media outlets would broadcast them , one very noticeable outlet being Talk Radio . The mainstream media was according to Hitchens guilty of great moral cowardice referring to mourners " Not as they but as us " . Hitchens then interviews Simon Hefer then editor of the pro-monarchy Dail Mail was forced to go on holiday by his publishers simply because he had previously written a couple of articles criticising Diana . Hitchens then interviews the editor of Private Eye a best selling satirical magazine who quickly found themselves banned from newsagents because they weren't happy with a photograph tying in with the death of Diana .... and so the documentary continues
A very good incisive documentary about the cult of celebrity , the media and the rather puzzling need for some people who cut themselves up in displays of public grief . A human being should be judged by what they brought to the world - not how tears they cried . Alex Higgins brought a rather obscure lowly regarded " sport " in to the homes of millions and it's difficult to imagine being a teenager in 1980s Britain not wanting to emulate the hellraising antics of Alex Higgins . Likewise it's impossible not to be an anti-theist in the 21st Century without quoting Christopher Hitchens . They both greatly enriched my existence but I never cried when they died having never known either . Who wants to be a grief whore ?
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