Tomorrow night, Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey will air. CBS reportedly paid $7-9 million for the rights to the two-hour conversation in which ‘no topic is off limits’. Millions will tune in. I’ll be one of them.
I don’t subscribe to the view that Meghan is a hero sticking it to the establishment. Nor do I think she is the Antichrist. Yet I’ve spent countless hours reading every bit of Harry-Meghan content on the internet. Like half the planet, it seems, I’m transfixed. Why?
The cause is simple. The pandemic has deprived me of gossip and I’ll do anything for it now.
The past year has been many things — scary, frustrating, lonely. More than anything, though, for most people, it has been boring. Saying so is taboo. Boredom is a childish complaint when hundreds of thousands of people are dying, jobless and destitute. I’m not hauled up in a Hollywood mansion singing ‘Imagine’, impervious to the world crumbling around me, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the lack of human interaction has left a vast void. That’s why the anticipation and discussion surrounding Sunday nights broadcast has filled a space I didn’t really know was there. Social media is largely tittle-tattle, and we’re all hooked, but the internet needs essentially silly and slightly awful real-world events to keep us amused. Oprah’s Meghan show fills the void.
I now live in a country (England) where deliberately meeting anyone outside of your house is a criminal act. This has deprived me of proper gossip, the very thing that helps humans develop and evolve. Robert Dunbar, the evolutionary psychologist argues ‘Were we not able to engage [in gossip]…we would not be able to sustain the kind of societies that we do.’ Gossip makes us human. It connects us. Sharing gossip demonstrates trust.
Truly exquisite gossip has multiple facets and the Sussexes’ story has that and more. Whatever your opinion of Meghan, you have to hand it to her. With not that much to offer she has gone from being an actress in a relatively successful television series to global fame. She is now being paid $25 million to produce a podcast, another $100 million to sign a deal with Netflix and has now been offered the holiest grail of them all, the opportunity to ‘speak her truth’ to the closest thing America has to royalty, Oprah Winfrey.
Thousands of stories have been published across the world this week in a lead up to the interview relaying the details of their ‘journey’. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Meghan was seen galavanting around town in a pair of diamond earrings given to her by another prince, but this prince governed a faraway nation where royals deal with the media in a very different way
We’ll all pretend that there are important points to be made about the nature of royalty, transatlantic differences in concepts of celebrity and so on. But what we really want is a sense of the acrimony and the bitchiness. We want to know what’s really going on between Meghan and ‘the firm’, aka the British royal family. We want to know if Harry and Meghan are really as united as they make out. We want to know the nastiest details of these ‘Meghan the bully’ stories emanating from the palace.
The well of gossip has run dry for too long. Now it promises to overflow, thanks to Meghan and Harry. I will watch on Sunday night and dissect every detail, texting my friends and thriving on the discomfort. Modern society is built on gossip. And at a time when sociability has been suffocated, Meghan is arguably resuscitating it. We should probably be grateful.