About a decade and a half ago, a new phenomenon took over the entertainment industry, and a new class of celebrity emerged. These people, “reality stars” as they are now known, were famous for being famous: Paris Hilton was no great thespian, the Kardashians were unlikely to give The Beatles a run for their money, and only the most ardent fans of MTV Roadies can pick out Big Boss contestants from a line-up. There was much derision of this culture of crass celebrity, which continues to this day. Now, though, to provide some perspective, the original reality TV stars are back in focus — British royalty.
Harry Windsor, Duke of Sussex, and his wife, former actress Meghan Markle, have filmed their interview with Oprah Winfrey, set to air on March 7. The anticipation in Britain and beyond is palpable: There is the question of why they left their roles in the royal family, their harassment by the tabloid press and the pressures of being prince and princess. In fact, struggling actors, writers, directors and film crews will also be keen to know how they plan to spend the millions of dollars they have reportedly got from their Netflix production deal.
The royals, now in California, are famous because they are royal. But royalty is a fiction — a story told by a class of unelected, unemployed rulers to justify their power. Now, the power is gone but the fiction remains. None of this is to say that their struggles or traumas are not real, but so are everybody else’s. And the reason they are interesting to people is the same as why many watch Splitsvilla. So, when elitists next feel the need to deride and decry the voyeurism of reality shows, remember, their strategy for success is the same as that of the blue bloods — be famous (and rich) for being famous.