even though there is not a lot to say beyond the same old thing that it seems i always say, which is: OMG, why are we not better at this???!?!
it is 2019. it is twenty years later. it’s been all that time and we still suck.
carolyn bessette kennedy may well have been a complicated woman. she may well have had a drug problem. marrying a very, very visible, probably equally complicated man may not have quite been what she expected it to be.
my question is this: does her story look any differently if it is written by someone who is not a white dude?
because it is almost always written by a white guy, it almost always is a white guy who cites as the most key evidence michael bergin’s (white guy’s) memoir, LIKE IT IS GOD’S HONEST TRUTH AND WE ALREADY KNOW THAT, rather than like it is a memoir of a former lover that presents one side of the story after the other partner in the alleged relationship had died.
michael bergin is basically the james hewitt here, and the other man is his princess in love. except he wrote after everyone else involved was dead.
so my #1 point here is GOD HELP US ALL if the story of our lives is written by a former lover after we are dead. and my #2 point is, um… qu’elle other sources????
i am not being puritanical here. i am not quibbling over whether or not she had lovers or did drugs or had abortions. maybe their marriage was troubled, maybe they were headed for divorce. that actually isn’t what interests me at all.
my quibble is with how static this story has remained.
there is never anything new in the depiction. for twenty years it has largely been devoid of dimensionality.
she is always a coke-head, always a difficult, tempestuous woman, a woman who couldn’t cope with the circumstances she’d chosen, with the attention her marriage brought.
she has been this way for most of the twenty years since her death.
and there is always, in these pieces, a certain lack of generosity, a certain lack of care. a hint of she knew what she was getting into creeps in, a sense that she was ungrateful.
a difficult, tempestuous, ungrateful woman.
call me madcap, but i feel like there might be a bit more to it.
he is, you will note, in contrast, memorialized as someone who could have done something.
he is mourned.
all of the covers are of him.
i get why that is. his place in history is very different. but it still irks.
she doesn’t have to be a horrible bitch for him to be a sympathetic figure.
i’ve said this before, in a post on the portrayal of jackie in that episode of the crown. that the men don’t have to be monsters for the women to be interesting. but the opposite is true too. the women don’t have to be monsters either.
if she was, indeed, a horrible bitch (and it seems more likely that she was occasionally capable of horrible bitchery to the degree that we all are, while still being capable of tremendous kindness and love), she doesn’t have to be the bitchiest bitch who ever lived.
i allow that all this writing never adds up to the real person who was once there. but i maintain that we can do better. that we have an obligation to do better.
dear someone out there reading this who is not a white dude, please write the biography of this woman. i’d really like to read that some day.