Una Mullally: Reaction to Megxit reveals worst excesses of fandom

Meghan Markle finds herself in a toxic fan ecosystem fuelled by tabloid press narratives

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a photocall in London in November 2017 after they announced their engagement. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a photocall in London in November 2017 after they announced their engagement. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Asif Kapadia’s excellent recent documentary on Diego Maradona is as much an examination of the cartoonish fickleness of fandom as it is a profile of a living legend. The repetition of observing the cycle of famous people being raised on pedestals, with all the expectations of the public projected on to them, before being torn down, does not seem to limit its frequency.

As Kapadia frames it in his film, it wasn’t the Camorra or the affairs or the cocaine that ruined Maradona’s relationship with Naples the city and Napoli the club, although those things obviously played their part, but rather it was the adoration that came with his remarkable achievements at Napoli. These achievements made possible not just by his talent, but weaponised by a broader narrative, a sense of fate, felt and purpose imposed upon him, the type of things that only a saviour-like character can bring to a time and a place. At many points throughout the documentary, this adoration is depicted as literally suffocating, as Maradona is crowded by fans and press, squeezed and crushed in a manner that is stressful to watch.

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