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Two cheers for Meghan and Harry's planned 'Megxit,' one for Oscar noms

Jeff Simon

I'm with the kids on this one.

If Meghan and Harry want to withdraw as much as is seemly from the British Royal Family racket, I'm on their side. I'm happy on our side of the pond to applaud and holler, "Hear, hear."

It's a lousy job. The money's good, of course. The fame and the ancient tradition of gangs-in-servitude to you mean you can do a lot of things with your life you never thought possible.

While the gig has definite possibilities, it also has responsibilities that would tax the best among us. All that noblesse oblige on a 24/7 schedule would send most of us Yankee yutzes into paroxysms of bad temper and even despair.

Privilege be damned, you can't do a lot of stuff, too. A whole lot. The most important thing you can't do is get away from the toxicity of the British tabloid press, which can submerge celebrity lives in poisons we Yanks can barely imagine.

I'll grant you the fates of Meghan and Harry don't really matter a tinker's damn to any of us colonials. With Washington hijinks flirting with World War III and plunging us all into sociopolitical dysfunction up to our earlobes, it's nothing but pleasant to hear about the miseries of some of the world's richest and most privileged people.

British tabloid bombardiers do things differently, but we're not impervious to what they do.

Luckily, we're not quite as tolerant of raw, postcolonial racism in our commentariat as they are (which is why you can understand why the Duchess of Sussex – who was Meghan Markle in her former job title – is sick to death of such carefully calibrated hostility).

Let me give you a relatively mild sample of the kind of thing that awaited the new royal couple among the Windsors. It's from Jeremy Clarkson, previously the anarcho-motorhead on "Top Gear." In his everyday mockery, he's among those who call their stated wishes for royal apartness, a "Megxit" and wrote this about her: "She's obviously decided that if she can't dine on peach and peacock and have a couple of mermaids in the gin-filled swimming pool, she won’t be opening any new toilet blocks ever again."

It is, of course, commonplace ignorance to assume that TV actress – the duchess' former occupation on cable TV's "Suits" – is an easy job performed by spoiled and empty-headed bimbos.

Not necessarily; not by a long shot.

Among the overlooked things about acting in Hollywood is that it can, in fact, be quite difficult work in its weird way, with long days as tedious as riveting fenders and then periods of activity and concentration as intense as brain surgery (and far more inclined toward failure and ignominy).

On top of that, you can add the fact that in matters of native intelligence and articulation, many actors are quite formidable. Talk to Tom Hanks, Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman or Robert Redford sometime.

Nevermind the muscle-bound chuckleheads and bimbos who couldn't even spell "cat" if you spotted them the "c" and the "t" (in the words of the old joke), the sort of background most actors and actresses bring to their occupation makes theirs a job where significantly agile brains are commonplace.

Yes, we've all heard actors and actresses on talk shows whose insularity, preciousness and insensitivity could set records, but in many of those cases, you have to blame numbskull publicists and TV production coordinators who encourage them to say foolish things about subjects most of us don't give a rat's patoot about.

I am perfectly willing to believe that Meghan and Harry are both decent and smart, as well as deserving of a lot more regard than they've been getting – not to mention more than Harry and William's mother, Diana, used to get.

I happen to be among those who think the Euro-tabloids were among those responsible for the death of Princess Diana.

So help me, I knew something had gone awry back in April when it was announced that once the baby was born (who'd, delightfully, be named Archie), Meghan and Harry would probably be living in Africa. According to Harry, one of his favorite places.

There were two ways of looking at that plan. Both ended up in the same place. Either it was the duchess' way of avoiding the residue of colonial racism the Brit tabloids are scarcely embarrassed by. Or, it's the Brit establishment's way of getting these rebellious pests away from the Motherland so that William and Kate and their kids can soak all the available Windsor love on William's road to the throne.

In neither case, did that speak of England as that "green and pleasant land." Instead, it spoke of dysfunction and dissension as a solution to what the Brit establishment perceived as a heck of a problem.

Can you say, "Exit, stage left?"

Among the architects of the original plan to get the Duchess of Sussex away from England as much as possible were Sir David Manning, former British ambassador to the U.S., and Lord Geldt, the Queen's private secretary.

So faced with genteel exile, Harry and Meghan think they have a better idea: "withdraw" from the day to day of Royal Noblesse Oblige, split their time between the Motherland and the New World – Canada, to be specific, where civilized Trudeaus live. Let them make their own money rather than leaning on the royal coffers. Why reward them for virtues they may not have?

We'll see how all this plays out after Monday's announced confab, as we nosy, gossipy Americans watch from an ocean away without having a single ounce of skin in the game.

Meanwhile, on the Hollywood front, those of us who've been in the Oscar projection business since Spiro Agnew was vice president watched the Oscar nominations Monday morning.

A few observations:

• Major female snubs were: Greta Gerwig for directing "Little Women" so, as much dreaded as it was, the best director category remained all-male; Jennifer Lopez for supporting actress in "Hustlers" and Lupita Nyong'o for best actress in "Us." I must admit finding the first appalling.

• The editor for "1917" wasn't nominated, either, shocking those who erroneously felt that job to be the essence of "1917," which pretends to be one long unbroken shot. And Adam Sandler couldn't score a best actor nomination for "Uncut Gems."

• Among the better surprises were: Cynthia Erivo getting a best actress nomination for "Harriet;" "JoJo Rabbit" a wildly eccentric nominee for best picture about a kid who imagines Adolf Hitler is an imaginary friend; and "Joker," of all movies, getting the largest total of nominations overall. Its star Joaquin Phoenix is probably a sure thing for best actor and its chances are good for its female film composer. That's a lot for a film that combines so much darkness with so much commercial success.

• Expect that fat box office, historical gravitas and technical gimmickry will elevate "1917" for best picture over "The Irishman." If that's the case, as I fear, what does that mean? That in its heart of hearts, the Oscars are still happy to reside in 1966 – even if Meghan and Harry aren't.

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