She had lived much of her, albeit rather troubled, life in the public gaze. This may not be new in our celebrity hungry society. However, Diana was able to capture the public imagination in a way that very few famous people can.
The image that the public have of Diana’s death is her car being chased at high speed into a Paris tunnel by paparazzi. For many, this was a step too far.
The backlash is largely understandable, but is it entirely justified?
The media attention that Diana lived under was extraordinarily intense, and sometimes intrusive. But what was driving this interest?
Celebrities, conflict, the strange and bizarre as well as the macabre sells. Celebrities can offer an escape from life’s mundane or hard to deal situations in every day life. A whole industry has been built around society’s appetite for gossip and escapism. It’s no longer the case that people are famous for doing something. People are famous for famous. Famous people and the media knew how to play off of each other.
The public had a strong interest in Diana, and the media was far too happy to feed that appetite. There was a reason why she was one of the most photographed people in the world – she sold papers. It made economic sense for many media outlets. Ultimately, feeding this public desire to know more got out of control.
Thirteen years on, paparazzi photographers still take photos, and celebrity news still sells. But Diana’s death has tainted press photographers who aren’t necessarily celebrity chasers.
While the public still wants to see celebrities in the news, it still hasn’t entirely forgiven photographers, or the media, for pushing the envelop too far.