A Chinese lingerie company called Jealousy International is running an advertising campaign featuring a scantily clad Princess Diana lookalike. Let’s hand over to journalist Sam Chambers, as quoted in the Daily Mail:
I was just going to collect my baggage from the carousel when I saw it flash up on a rolling advertising screen and couldn't quite believe what I was seeing... I thought, surely not, because it was rolling quite quickly. So I waited to check when it came up again and, sure enough, there was an image of Diana. It’s all the more striking because today is the anniversary of her death.Mr Chambers, we are told, has been working in China for the past decade. Surely it can’t have escaped his attention that the parameters of taste and decency vary from one part of the world to another. There are some things that can be discussed openly in Britain – the Tiananmen Square massacre say, or the Dalai Lama, or the sex life of Mao Zedong – about which you’d probably be a bit more circumspect in China. Similarly, some subjects are pretty much fair game in the People’s Republic, although they might upset people from Mr Chambers’ home county of Kent. He may well have done a double-take when he saw the Di doppelganger in her pants, but I’m sure he must then have remembered that for most people around the world, she’s just another necroceleb that can sell pants or posters or watches or dreams, on a par with Marilyn or Che or Elvis or even Hitler. When he describes the fact that he saw the ad on the anniversary of Diana’s death as “striking”, does he mean that the coincidence magnified the outrage he felt swelling in his proud, Kentish chest, provoking him to wait until the image came round again, like an anti-porn campaigner deploying the research purposes defence? Or that he thought it might be a useful hook when punting the tale to a British tabloid? He is, after all, a journalist.
It’s a bit like the Ross-Brand saga, when the Mail persuaded its readers that they were outraged about something, despite the fact that if they hadn’t read it in the Mail, the vast majority of them wouldn’t have had anything to be outraged about. That said, despite the efforts of the Mail and Express to stir the hotpot thus time, the grief-crazed Dianaphiles storming the Chinese embassy are conspicuous by their absence. The collective derangement that surrounded the deaths of Jade Goody and Michael Jackson felt faintly embarrassing after a few months, so heaven knows what a space of 13 years has done. Practically everyone I’ve known who admits to having gone to Kensington Palace during that weird week claims they went not to mourn, but to watch the mourners. Even before she was buried, Diana had become a commodity, a subject, a meme.
And what exactly is the basis for the purported outrage anyway? Maybe she didn’t play the cello, but did she not wear underwear either?