December 28, 2013
A few weeks ago, Britain’s ITV channel aired a nicely filmed and acted “recreation“ of these events taking a slant which so resembled the concluding perspective of the British press on the Lawson affair, I was surprised that no one seems to have made the connection.
I am less interested in the truth of the matter than I am fascinated by observing the shapes into which the storytellers seem to try to twist the facts. In the television version, Lucan comes across as a combination of weak and entitled, easily influenced and astonishingly arrogant, and his wife as a wan, doomed, and loving figure whom he first tries to have falsely committed as mad, then to murder, and finally, to force her to commit suicide.
And yet the writers”Jeff Pope adapted the script from John Pearson’s 2005 book The Gamblers“are forced to acknowledge, almost as a postscript, that Lady Lucan indeed had psychological troubles which led to custody of her children being granted to relatives four years later, and that she had always maintained that she still loves her “late” husband, who did the honorable thing and took his own life immediately after that night’s unfortunate events (a conclusion also reached by Aspinall, Goldsmith, and the investigating police officer). Meanwhile, the program scurrilously highlights the claim that the late John Aspinall had him murdered at Jimmy Goldsmith’s insistence, an accusation neither man is alive to contest.
This representation of woman as virginal victim and man as tenebrous villain into which authors and commentators so easily fall is not only distortedly clichÃ©”reality is so much more nuanced and thus difficult for hacks to make dramatically interesting”but is also contrary to the very progressive and pro-feminist principles these people proclaim they uphold.
On the walls of the bars I spent too much time filing the precursors of this column from in Seville, Spain, you were guaranteed to find two things: a photo of a matador and an image of the Madonna, usually with tears on her cheeks. This is the sort of binary simplicity I expect to find in the Catholic heartlands of bullfighting, not in the comment pages of London’s liberal media elite. I”m not saying Saatchi was not an ogre, nor Lucan a murderer”I simply don”t know”but it serves no purpose to make saints of their spouses in reaction other than to bury truth under a mountain of frankly sexist melodrama.