Sunday, January 15, 2023

History on the fly...

Of all the speaking parts in Netflix’s Harry & Meghan the only real class act is David Olusoga.

Indeed, the only one that doesn’t make a fool of himself simply by participating. He struggles though, in part because he has turned up with some big ideas that need more room to breathe. And his contextually-orphaned soundbites have been partnered with those of Afua Hirsch whose disposition is altogether more axe-grindey.


Olusoga appears to have followed the path of many Brits: an immediate and optimistic comprehension of the symbolic importance of the royal match, then a grudging understanding of the structural reasons for its failure. I wonder if he has gone on, like me (largely after watching this documentary) to the realisation that the Sussexes somehow out-caricature their Spitting Image puppets. 

Last week we spotted Harry stating, not without visible conceit, that he had delivered History, with a capital H, of course. I very much doubt Olusoga considers the documentary or the memoir as anything other than a very contestable first hand source that future historians (very sadly for them) will have to pour over.

I suppose we might compare Spare to the Secret History of Procopius, if that snarky Byzantine courtier had found someone willing to pay him with several chests of gold solidi for his recollections, real and specious, and the author himself had not given a monkey’s about the personal consequences thereof.

The documentary does of course have more than one level to it. There is the take being told by its principal subjects, the tale of that telling being told by the film-maker Liz Garbus and the jarringly non-relevant and partial perspective of the social commentators for hire.

Four episodes in and we have been watching all the collaborators for any signs of figurative morse-code blinking, as in a South American jungle hostage video.


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