If Meghan Markle’s army of digital defenders didn’t exist, we’d have to make them up. Otherwise, the never-ending controversy over Harry & Meghan, the royal-couple-turned-Netflix-show, would not really be controversial — and all the tens of thousands of media articles, such as the one you are now reading, would be not just pointless but defunct. There would be nobody to argue with and nothing to argue about – apart from Brexit, obviously, and Matt Hancock.
Markle’s digital army does exist, however. They are, like radical trans activists, a minority who manage to make a lot of noise – chiefly because most of us derive considerable satisfaction from the shared feelings of irritation that they generate.
Occasionally, the Gods of the Media Headings, the great outrage algorithms above the sky, will grant the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s supporters a win to keep us all interested. That’s why Jeremy Clarkson had to be publicly shamed for his silly paragraph (a bad joke, at worst) in the Sun in which he wished that Markle would be ‘paraded naked through the streets.’
Clarkson’s daughter took to Instagram to denounce him (the most nepo-babyish act any child can do), some 20,000 people complained to Ipso, and the Sun apologised. Over Christmas tables across the country every boringly right-wing uncle or aunt had to be informed by his or her tiresomely woke nephews or nieces that Clarkson had gone too far. This is how ‘the discourse’, as online people call it, works.
After successfully parading Clarkson naked and ashamed through their feeds, the Sussexites are fired up and gunning for more. They are duly making another fuss about an article in Politico entitled ‘2022 Is The Year We All Finally Got Tired of Narcissists.’