Did anyone else read the September Vogue article on "saving her son" by Daniel Day-Lewis's sib Tamasin? Her prose gripped me at first; she recounts an accident that initially seems to leave her son only bruised and later causes him to fight for his life. But then a queasy feeling came over me, not unlike when I eat handfuls of candy corns too quickly.
Two elements brought on suspicion and nausea: the setting of the son's skiing accident in ritzy Courcheval, and the incongruous photo of mother and son, he in perfect good English countryside health sporting Tod's brown suede driving shoes and walking a purebred canine matching in color, she in designer denim and a Balenciaga crimson cropped jacket. Suspenseful tale of one promising young man's brush with mortality or fashion shoot?
Wake up people, we're reading Vogue here, and if we're reading Vogue we must be imbibing the magazine equivalent of those Halloween treats: bland, yellow, nutrition-free journalism.
Here's how Ms. Day-Lewis confesses she copes with the hospital's emotional news that Harry can return home to England to recuperate: she decides on the spot she will run her fifth London marathon for breast cancer, being held the very next day.
Paragraph break. Big sighs. Tears.
I'm supposed to think: how brave, how selfless that suffering close to home has caused her to connect to grief farther afield. What I really think: bull-oney! It's not that I have a problem with the need for intense activity during a stressful time. I run. I know how it is. What I object to is her hiding personal indulgence behind the mask of public necessity.
Let's call a spade a spade. Better yet, let's call Barbara Ehrenreich, who in her magnificent Harper's essay, Welcome to Cancerland, contends persuasively that "races for the cure" normalize and even beautify a disease we should approach with rage. Moreover, she makes the case that such public projects deflect attention from deeper concerns, such as environmental factors that might contribute to the illness.
So TDL, jog away, but don't say it's for charity, unless by charity you mean self-help.