8 March

Review, Two Productions: Oprah’s Shame, Frances McDormand’s Triumph

by Jon Katz

We need a moral revolution, for sure. Last night, I witnessed two stunningly different representations of suffering and abuse; both appeared on television.

I saw two radically different ways of presenting suffering.

I saw the empty soul and warped values of modern-day America on TV several times on Sunday, from the Royal Family to Dr. Seuss to the awful cruelty inflicted on American workers.

In our country, lying is truth, outrage is policy, empathy is radical, anger is communication, compassion is a danger to the economy, and poverty and suffering are pretty much ignored.

In outrage, we trust. The media’s role is to make us angry every day, not inform us.

The real suffering, it seems, is Meghan and Harry’s. The fallen prince is not happy; neither is his bride.

People were not nice to them or their rescue chickens. They like living in California much better.

Oprah Winfrey explored this “suffering” in two hours of prime-tv. I thought she would cry more than once.

Showing on Hulu at the same time was another, vastly more powerful view of suffering: a story, a movie,  about America’s new nomads, aging retirees without work, homes, or pensions wandering the country looking for work in Amazon warehouses.

The film stars Frances McDorman, and she was extraordinary.

If you really want to understand real suffering and cruelty, watch the Oprah interview and then go stream Nomadland online.

I will confess it made me angry. I thought about it all night.

There is no question that there is something rotten about the monarchy in England. Diana showed us that, so does the Crown, so do a lot of books and articles.

I believe many Americans are in much more desperate need of help than Harry and Meghan.

They seemed pretty happy to me, and quite media savvy.

The real crisis in America is the retreat of spirituality from our national heart, not politics.

The Harry/Meghan interview was also a low mark in Oprah Winfrey’s often distinguished career.

She pandered to her guests; she treated their petty whining as tragedy, she seemed to have lost touch with the true victims of corporate and institutional greed in America.

She pretended to challenge them but never did.

She forgot that ass-kissing isn’t the same as interviewing, maybe because there was an awful lot of money at stake.

In America, everyone seems to be a victim. Still, nobody other than the surprising Joe Biden, the reviled Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and dread “socialists” and black ministers want to talk about helping the truly vulnerable, who are more forgotten and abandoned than ever.

It’s now the rich and the powerful who get to go on TV every day and whine about how much they suffer. The poor are never invited; they are not glamorous enough.

While a vicious pandemic strikes down more than a half-million Americans, the Republican House Minority Leader is on TV reading aloud from Dr. Seuss, the latest focus of his party’s outrage and anger agenda. He is also a whiner, this time about “cancel” culture, even as he and colleagues seek to “cancel” anyone who disagrees with them or votes against them.

A spoiled and petty Royal Couple happily ensconced beyond the walls of their mega-mansion and displayed their rescue chickens (the only thing in their new palace to be shown on tv), gets to go on TV and pity themselves too.

It seems the family was shockingly cold and different, not nice to them. Meghan asked to see a shrink, and the palace HR department (can you believe it?) said they couldn’t help her; she wasn’t an employee.

Ms. Markle was utterly unbelievable to me, especially when she said she had absolutely no idea what life in the Royal Family would be like. This, from the wife of Diane Spencer’s son.

And don’t try to tell me she never watched the Crown.

It did not occur to Oprah to ask Megan why she didn’t go out and find one and pay for it herself. Even Prince Charles  (and Diane)  admitted to doing that.

Duh. What were they expecting? The Waltons?

Oprah, the supposed Queen of Cultural Sensitivity, didn’t see fit even once to ask these privileged stars of the top-tier celebrity world how they dared to go on national television and spin their wonderfully successful and comfortable lives into something tragic.

I understand celebrity is often a cruel illusion; they can be just as happy as anyone. But it isn’t the same as being homeless either.

Harry and Meghan got two hours of prime-time with a squishy and very friendly interviewer to tell us how bullied they have been.

The couple was very careful not to trash the very popular Queen – they are not dumb royals – while mercilessly bashing the institution she heads and rules.

The other royals were all bad, they claimed. The Queen was lovely. (Harry’s granddad, Prince Philip, is gravely ill in a London Hospital. Are they “supporting” him?). I’m with Charles. I wouldn’t take Harry’s calls either.

Maybe it was Meghan’s Armani dress that caught my eye, or the jewelry she was wearing. To me, Meghan just didn’t cut it as a hapless Cinderella, trapped in her tower by cruel step monsters.

I was taken aback when I saw the troubled couples’ beautiful home for the rescue chickens that Harry and Megan build behind their Mansion, which many thousands of homeless Americans and the people in Frances McDormand’s movie would be happy to live in. I should also mention the $15 million house they bought to heal safely and privately.

My family wasn’t nice to me either, but they never gave me a nickel.

Among the couple’s many laments to the shocked – just shocked – Oprah was their sad story of losing their government security detail when they abandoned their lives as royals.

Now,  they have to pay for their security themselves. Perhaps they can pay for it with some of the millions they got from their six-year deal with Netflix to produce a series of film and children’s shows.

How many couples flee the Royal family and get a much better deal?

How cruel does life get?

One reason she needed to speak out, said Meghan, was to clear the record. It was Kate, the other Princess,  who made her cry, not the other way around, as the tabloids reported.

My God, said Oprah, perhaps protecting the future of her neighborhood yoga class, to which Megan’s mother belongs, why didn’t anyone set the record straight?

One possibility is that maybe nobody gives a shit on this side of the ocean or that. We actually have real stuff to worry about.

In the land of 2020, of Donald Trump’s tens of thousands of tweets, the capitol riot, and the half-million lost to Covid-19, are we really supposed to cry for these people?

The interview was cozy, just a couple of Hollywood celebrity billionaires getting together in another billionaire’s garden to talk about how mean the press and various in-laws and relatives were to these poor people back home.

Harry and Meghan are two refugees our government was happy to admit to our country while tens of millions of refugees languish in camps worldwide.

Why, said poor Meghan, dropping her sound bites one at a time, there was even one racist in the royal family! Somebody wondered aloud about the color of her baby. But she can’t say who. Neither could Harry.

Oprah nearly fainted.

It was get-even night, all the way, an act of vengeance, not illumination. The Crown does it a lot better on Netflix.

At least there, we see both sides of what is an unnatural and dysfunctional institution presented. The principals are portrayed as humans, not monsters, even when they act like one.

Life isn’t easy for anyone inside of those palace walls. It is the Queen, who Harry and Meghan both claim was wonderful to them, who says, again and again, that life is what it is for members of the royal family; they have to accept it.

Oprah told an interviewer that she just happened to be in London one day and “dropped into” Kensington Palace to visit Harry and Meghan and suggest an exclusive interview. I never thought of that when I was in London.

To help things along, she invited Meghan’s mother to come to her private yoga class. After two months of yoga with Oprah for her mother, Meghan agreed to the interviews.

Maria and I don’t own a television; we like to spend most of our evenings reading. When we need to see something, we have a Spectrum TV app on my Iphone; we are happy with that; the Iphone picture is clear and visible.

Most nights, we watch the office or some Schitt’s Creek in bed before drifting off to sleep.

I have mild addictions to the better and incomparable British mysteries – Vera, SoutherlandUnforgotten, and the police chases that pop up on Facebook.

It was the rescue chickens that got me to turn off the interview early on and instead go to Hulu to see Nomadland, an amazing film about actual humans who are truly suffering,  starring Frances McDormand. The movie is the recent Best Movie choice of the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association.

This production really did break my heart.

I’m sorry that Oprah didn’t have the time or interest to interview the honest and hard-working people in America who have been left behind like stray dogs to wander the country in search of jobs and work in Amazon warehouses or shoveling potatoes when they can find jobs.

Remember the country where older people could retire in dignity and safety after decades of hard work?

Not any more.

I wonder how much sympathy the new nomads might have for Meghan and Harry, who were so misunderstood in England, but who are making boatloads of money investing in businesses and signing gazillion-dollar deals with Netflix and Disney?

The Royal Family has clearly been bad to Meghan and Harry, but have they really been bad for them. Theirs is the fairy tale life now.

If you want to go back and watch the Oprah interview, I won’t bother to bring tissues; save them for Nomadland.

It was inspired by the true story about the growing numbers of American retirees who have no pensions to live on and need to work until they get too sick or die.

They are America’s new nomads, people of retirement age who had lost either their homes, their jobs, or their savings in the 2008 recession – in many cases, all three.

The wonderful book Nomadland inspired the movie: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, which followed these aging Americans who now cross the country in RV’s and vans looking for work.

Almost all of the actors in Normadland are real people, genuine, retired workers, which gives the film a powerful sense of authenticity and conviction.

In the movie, McDormand is a widow who lost her husband and the community she called home.

She says she is “houseless,” not homeless, a distinction she makes early on in the film. Her home is now the small spruced-up van that takes her from job to job state to state.

The book devoted an entire chapter to the closing of a gypsum mine in Empire, Nevada, a modern-day ghost town that, in the film, Fern (McDormand)  calls home.

The mine shut down one day, the people even lost their zip code. Refugees worked in Amazon warehouses, walking 15 miles a day on concrete floors, picked fruit, or cleaned up campgrounds and cleaned bathrooms during the summer.

How could you not think of “Grapes Of Wrath,” John Steinbeck’s stunning novel about displaced families during the Great Recession?

Something – a lot of things –  about the Oprah interview offended me; I realized watching Nomadland. These very fortunate people were drowning in self-pity, grievance, and their own brazen narcissism.

Why, on earth, I wondered, was I watching it all?

I got through 30 minutes of it before bailing out and read later about the “sensational” hard story of this gazillionaire young couple feasting off the fruit of celebrity.

They didn’t like the Royal Family, so they left England. It would seem things turned out quite well for them.

Why did Oprah look like she was about to burst into tears?  They sure aren’t shy or reticent about getting drunk on all the business opportunities and endorsements they’ve drawn. After the interview, they’ll be even richer.

They could probably build a thousand houses for the nomads wandering America in search of safety and work.

In between the interview and the movie, I saw a clip from Fox News, which has pushed aside the pandemic and Biden’s relief bill to focus on a publisher’s decision to retire six of the 60 Dr. Seuss books because they had some racial stereotypes no suitable for 2021.

I thought that when it comes to sympathy and empathy, our culture has gone off the rails. I love reading about the Royal Family, and it is no surprise to me that that is a hard, cold, and unnatural life, occupied by hard, cold, and unnatural people.

I got all of that from the “Crown,” which is pretty blunt about it, along with a bunch of good books, if anybody cares.

What good reason do Harry and Meghan really have for trashing their family for two hours in an Eden-like garden in the billionnaire town of Montecito, California?

The real victims were on Nomadland; the others are mostly out of sight.

While millions of Americans scramble to get their vaccine, some of the most powerful Congress leaders are reading from  Green Eggs N’Ham.

I felt lost and a little crazy last night. I’m losing my grip on the reality of suffering and the boundaries of compassion.

The people we see on TV most often do not need our help – believe me, Meghan and Harry and their chickens are doing fine.

I sat up half the night thinking of these good and blameless people.

They paid their taxes, worked all of their lives, followed all of the laws and rules, and are left dumped on the road like garbage, forced well into their 70’s to carry and tape up all those Amazon boxes if they are lucky.

So it’s true, I think.

We have forgotten who the victims really are and lost our understanding of what is suffering us. We storm the capitol in the name of patriotism and worship outrage, grievance, and lies.

At the end of this movie, I felt so much more admiration for the quietly suffering nomads – they will never get two hours on any American TV network, and Fox News will deny their existence as just another socialist hoax.

It is the nomads who seemed to have their values and heads straight. They were honest, caring, and full of empathy for their fellow travelers.

The Rev. William Barbar, the founder of the Poor People’s Campaign, is right. America’s sickness is spiritual. We need a radical revolution of values, a moral revolution.

I’m not sure why, but I think it is coming. We just had to hit bottom. I think we did.


  1. At first I was finding humor in this post. Laughing about the obsurd world of the rich and powerful. Then I felt sad. Extremely sad for our our children to grow up in a world with little compassion and empathy for their fellow human beings. What will things be like in 20 years if our narcissistic society does not change? Sad times indeed.

      1. Dear Jon, Empathy is hard to learn. As a physician, I have to refuse to judge people based on their circumstances. But that is my profession. I appreciate your input. I enjoyed the interview, but I did not see it your way. Mine was more superficial. I thought Oprah looked pretty bad and I never thought of Meaghen as black. On the other hand, I would like to refer you to a book written by Tolstoy after he wrote War and Peace followed by Anna Karenina. Confession is his take on contemplation of suicide. This is from a man who is set for life, married with many children, admired by thousands and he can’t find the meaning in his life? The only way he survived was to admire the muzhiks who continued living despite their miserable existence. Somehow he continued to live 30 more years. I didn’t feel sorry for him either. I just couldn’t understand it.

        1. Great Tolstoy story you mentioned called What Men Live By. As I remember it, the count (Tolstoy) had everything but couldn’t make it through the day. He saw peasants thriving and attempted to find how they continued. If I recall, their connection to God and nature sustained them.

      2. Thanks for posting this Jon Katz. I greatly enjoyed your articIe. I am a Canadian, and though not a rabid Royalist, I do enjoy the fact that as a member of the British Commonweath of Countries we are able the be part the the traditions and the history. I think our current Queen can probably trace her lineage back to at least Henry VIII. Not many countries can claim that longevity.
        I will definitely watch Nomadland. As you state, this is much more the reality of today – as opposed to a couple of bratty rich kids who are trying to portray themselves as being so hard done by their families!

  2. When Scott and I lost our housing during COVID and became nomadic over the summer camping through-out the West Coast, I learned a lot and met a lot of interesting people. I would much rather share a cup of coffee and a fire with my fellow nomads than Oprah, Harry, or Meghan. The nomads are much more interesting, into nature, and culture, wise and empathetic. I became more empathetic and wise traveling, putting up and taking down and camp everyday. Some people have this false idea that nomads and houseless people are lazy. OMG, try setting up and taking down camp everyday or week and working! It’s an eye and heart opening experience. I don’t regret my nomad days at all with Scott. They were the best days of our lives even during the hardship. But it was scary too living without a net. Luckily, I had family to fall back on. Most nomads do not.

    1. Fascinating, Janet, I had the same feeling watching them on the film. Thanks for this account, I never thought of you as a nomad, but of course you are, aren’t you?

        1. There is a certain wonderful freedom to it until you need to see the dentist. Living on the edge gives you insight you can’t get any other way. It really is “hew wood, haul, water” & there are so many lessons to it. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. She (Markle) is nothing but a spoiled, nasty, insecure entitled brat who knew exactly what she was getting into…to inflict misery on the British manarchy with the help of her spineless husband. She needs to grow up, but perhaps that ship has sailed. Her husband has never had a backbone. He is also spoiled and entitled, living off his mother’s money and memory. He needs to get a life and a real job so he knows what it’s truly like out there in the real world. I have felt this way since she arrived on the scene, which is why I have always dismissed their advertised behavior out of hand and did not watch the Oprah fiasco. No good can possibly come from this latest debacle. For people who claim that they wish to live quietly out of the spotlight and away from the media hype, they’re off to a roaringly hypocritical start!

    1. Wow. If that’s what you took from that interview, I hope you’re enjoying your position of racist white privilege. You’ve certainly earned it.

      1. Kanye, I’m happy to discuss with you my belief that many people in American, especially people of color, are in much more urgent need of help and attention than Meghan Markle is now. The racist white privilege doesn’t intimidate me, it’s just knee-jerk rhetoric, you have no idea what I am like or not like. You’d do better disagreeing in a coherent and civil way.
        It’s a shame because you might actually have something thoughtful to say that I need to hear, but it isn’t in your message or your tone. When people who don’t know me dismiss me in that dogmatic and reflexive way, I assume there is nothing for me to learn from them.

        1. I think Kanye was addressing Fran. Also, Steinbeck wrote about the Great Depression, not Recession.

          1. Steinbeck wrote about poor people wandering the country looking for work. His writing is quite relevant to both the Great Recession and Depression..

        2. Yes, I was talking to Fran, but you have your own white privilege issues, Jon. We need to have honest discussions about race, mental health, and power. That’s exactly what Meghan and Harry were doing, and all you can do is mock them. Do you think that contributes much to the conversation? Also, you said that Steinbeck wrote about the Great Recession, which is obviously false: there was no “Great Recession” in his lifetime. Everyone knows that he wrote about the Great Depression. Instead of admitting that you made an error, you just act as though you had said that it was “relevant” instead of what you actually said. I’m tired of men like you trying to shut me (an African American woman) up and then pretending that false things they said weren’t actually said. That’s known as gaslighting, and it’s offensive.

          1. I’m all for honest discussions, Kanya, I have them every day. Jump in..That doesn[t mean I have to buy everything said in that interview..that’s the opposite of thinking and having honest discussions.. they come from real conversation, not blind and robotic acceptance..

      2. Every human being is responsible for his or her behavior. If someone is an a-h- , then they have to accept the consequences. They don’t get a pass just for the reason they are are not white. They still have to behave in a fair manner. No excuses. If everyone does not understand this, there is sure to be a backlash

        as for Meghan whose sister in law made her cry, she said, I almost laughed out loud. This is the dialogue of five year old girls who fight for one hour and are best friends the next. What is this about, really? Megan was jacking up her brand with this show. (She couldn’t hide her insincerity either tho she is an actor.) Nobody cares about little girl fights; how is it important? What was the value of her brand before she met H? What is it after she entered the Royal Family? What is it this coming week?

        A couple years ago i noticed we hear about Meghan ever six or weeks or so. Some publicist has so advised her.

        Note that this show followed 60Minutes where they talked about young pregnant women having to sleep in tents, without enough food, and working several jobs. What a contrast. What real suffering.

        Mr. Katz: Why are the Nomad retirees without medicare?

        1. Aha, apparently I’m not alone, for I too, was VERY affected by the 60 Minutes episode you referenced. Airing that right before the Oprah event was truly the pinnacle of dichotomy. A duality that encapsulated our sad, vapid culture. It was viscerally painful so see that contrast between these real people like the poor young homeless pregnant woman working so hard yet living in a tent. My God, literally, we need a serious reset. People like those in the 60 minutes piece are all too invisible. I agree, Meghan and Harry have incredible wealth and privilege. However I opine that we must balance that with the fact that she did indeed have valid reasons for speaking to the systemic racism in a very dysfunctional, archaic “royal” “family”, yes both words in quotes. My view of the British royals changed forever when I saw the Crown. Something shifted in me. The Queen is truly a walking figurehead of cold, inbred dysfunction and delusion. I think Meghan and Harry are only happy away from it. The Crown was fair on its expression of how and why this family must change. It’s not healthy. And Prince Charles is forever a joke, an acutely tragic, repulsive pasty, ruddy ugly man who, frankly, quite deserves that horse-like Camilla monster he married and trollops around with as they do, asserting their lifelong love for each other. Double gag. They’re both empty humans. On the contrast, Meghan and Harry at least have a very good chance at a fairy tale happy life. Don’t know how this article popped up in my Google feed but I’m glad it did. And yes, I also was utterly blown away by Nomadland. I am 51 years old and I cannot remember being so moved by a film. Seriously. I was so touched by it and it lingered in my spirit and soul so deeply and resonated like a deep primal drum beat from the center earth, that I have watched it many times! I haven’t done that in probably 25 years. I am thankful to you all, the author of the article and everyone commenting like I am here and now. I’m praying for decorum to return to our culture. I say “recalibration” should be our country’s theme. And I’m a huge Biden/Harris girl. I pray they can steer the helm back towards the center. The audacity of hope, right?!

  4. Meghan & Harry suffered people wondering if their baby’s skin would be too dark. Harry’s mother was a victim of that same mindset. Suffering isn’t pie, H & M get some sympathy so there’s less for the nomads? Doesn’t work like that.

    1. The nomads get no sympathy Meg, and these two get more than is warranted. If the worst that happened in the vast bureaucracy of the Queen is somebody wondering about the color of a baby, the world has not come to an end. They were just not persuasive to me a traumatized victims of great cruelty. They said the Queen was wonderful and she’s the boss. So who was it that wasn’t wonderful? They won’t say.
      She said she has no idea what life inside the Royal family was like, but she married Diana’s son. Did they never speak?
      I respect our difference of opinion, when Oprah or anybody does two hours of network TV on the nomads, I’ll be pleased. Don’t hold your breath.

    1. The “Nomads” have predominately chosen their way of life to gladly escape the the madness of the matrix that is human society. I know, I am a nomad by choice so that I can live in peace with my 6 dogs and not have greedy land’lords’ profit off of them with monthly rent fees and deposits. There is a far more fundamental and serious reality facing humanity and all life on Earth than a begrudging critique of privelaged people and fame they have. The Earth is now experiencing the sixth mass extinction and our days are numbered. Many scientists have been trying in vain to warm us aka Dr. Guy Mcpherson @ https://guymcpherson.com/
      Not to mention that the direct cause of Covid is animal abuse.

  5. I’m reading the book “Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. This is truth which makes it a good read. Jon, you said something very significant in your blog “the poor get ignored”. Can you imagine yourself (a man in his 70’s in the book) cutting and lifting Christmas trees onto customers’ car roofs for 8 to twelve hours a day! Most of the nomads did absolutely nothing wrong financially in the book to end up living in vans, cars and aged motor homes. Yet, here we are with a $7 something minimum wage. Biden tried to push that up to $15 which would occur over a four-year period. The minimum wage is a big reason our country is in such a mess. There was a diaper drive for a neighboring county from mine. This isn’t an Appalachia type community. There’s many, many educated people living in this county. However, 1 in 3 families can’t afford diapers for their babies. For those of you who will retort, “Buy cloth diapers if you can’t afford disposable diapers,” that’s good advice if you have a washer and dryer. Laundry mats are horribly expensive (and diapers are scratchy if not machine dried.) The minimum wage should “not” be less than $20.00 an hour with benefits. Just due the math. And in some states that isn’t enough. Raising the minimum wage was stricken from the latest emergency bill due to Covid. Yet, couples who enjoy 6-figure incomes are getting $1,400 a piece in relief money. This is shit! Most of my neighbors don’t need the money. Many are working from home or are retired and receiving large pensions plus social security. Raise the minimum wage and give that relief money to small businesses who are struggling to keep their doors open and to people who are really struggling even to eat. The middle class is endangered – no the middle class is gone! And how in God’s name can you save for retirement when you work up to three jobs with no benefits at slave wages. WOW1 I guess I’m venting.

    As far as the Royals are concerned you are right Jon they can pay for their own security. I don’t like to hear that Megan is receiving nasty comments about her race. So did the Obama’s. But there is no comparison between their problems and the problems of aging Americans with limited funds

    1. Line dried cloth diapers work just fine. I used them for my children before the advertising community convinced us all to buy disposable diapers. Now we have excessive waste in plastics and microfibers to deal with. poverty is the never-ending problem we all must address. It affects every other problem in society.

    2. Totally agree, Jean, and on a lighter note, fyi I loved in Milwaukee almost a decade. I love Wisconsin so much. Wow folk are good folks.

    1. There’s little doubt that the monarchy is pretty rotten. I just think there are many Americans, black and white and yellow, in desperate need of attention from Oprah for two hours. They won’t get it.

  6. You clarified for me my discomfort with the Oprah interview. “One possibility is that maybe nobody gives a shit on this side of the ocean. We actually have real stuff to worry about” made me laugh so hard, I cried. I didn’t watch it, but I saw the photos: Meghan in the $5K Armani dress, the shameful earrings, the diamond bracelet and, if that weren’t toneless enough – the rescue chickens’ mini-palace. I haven’t watched Nomadland, but I know several people in this situation, through no fault of their own. Meanwhile, the Minority House leader reads “Green Eggs and Ham” to wild applause. Scottie, beam me up.

  7. A wonderful commentary, you always make me think. I did watch the interview and M and H came across to me as genuine. Whatever one’s circumstances, pain is pain and thoughts of suicide cross all boundaries of class and wealth. I appreciated that they bashed the institution rather than the family. So I disagree with you and I don’t disagree with you. So many people are in need, all of it should be covered, we are a mixed up world indeed but in the end we are all in this together. I’m eager to watch Nomadland.

    1. I agree. I did laugh a lot at the “rescued” chickens. It’s absolutely true that the rich are different from you and me and it doesn’t give them a free pass on the cruelties and problems of life, but yes, it is hard to feel terribly sorry for them In many regards. Money is a great leveler and it sure does smooth the bumpiest path. People who don’t know where their next meal is coming from don’t have much sympathy for the problems of celebrities.

  8. Good timing on this. I watched Nomadland this morning (I just retired.)
    I did not watch the Oprah interview. I just have no patience for that.
    I was choked up several times during Nomadland. And was sure those were genuine retirees. The scene when her friend shared she was dying just pierced my heart.
    Francis M always blows me away with her fearless and “naked” portrayals. She’s so willing to be aging and barebones.
    It makes me feel more comfortable with my now growing out grey hair

    1. Yes mindy. Yes! Oh I cried alot watching Nomadland. Even after first two times watching it, I still cried at her friends honoring her memory by throwing rocks into the fire. Little, exquisite moments like that were so human, so underrated. What beautiful scenes throughout the film that were equally poignant. I gasped at her going back to her old house, now so empty, vacated, and yet there she was, still able to stand at the end of her former property and lookout to the mountains. What a gorgeous vast expanse. Wow.

    2. Francis McDormand always makes me feel like ‘why the hell do I need to do eyeliner?” She does it just naturally, and get this, gets away with it. We expect it from here because she is authentic in being exactly who she is. Plus, she is married to one of t he Coen Brothers…………….
      But here she is, winning the Academy award for her movie and she just shows up as she is. We all used to do that, and I think that is something we can all relate to when we get out of t h is covid time. And if we ain’t better….. in things like kindness and compassion, then what the hell did we go thru 12+ months of this, but to learn some basic lessons on kindness, etc. This is not a test. Times up!

  9. Jon, thank you so much for this. I had the same reaction – I neither believed nor could summon much empathy for the couple – and turned it off after 45 minutes. I was surprised this morning to read all the favorable, sympathetic press they got. They wanted out of the royal family and all its burdens while maintaining all the benefits. They make their money playing off their celebrity as royals and complaining it is some awful burden. And I just don’t believe Meghan thought the Queen was going to be like any other grandmother. That comment at the beginning triggered my bullshit meter and it just kept on ringing.

  10. So let me get this straight, Jon. You think an acceptable response when someone—ANYONE—tells you they’re seriously considering suicide is just to shrug and offer no help at all? If so, you might want to work a little on that compassion of yours that you tout so incessantly.

    1. Josh, there are lots of people in America who commit suicide, contemplate it, and are desperately poor. I believe they are needier than Harry and Meghan are now.

      I would encourage you to learn how to disagree without showing contempt for the people you disagree with. I’m working on this also and thanks for helping me along. You are not how I wish to express myself. I’m sure Megan suffered greatly. She seems to be in a great place now, and yes the monarchy is rotten. No news there. I knew it when she got married, I’m amazed she didn’t.

  11. great post. i don’t for the life of me understand why anyone cares about fake british royals. it’s not even their government.

  12. I admire Megan. She is a hardworking ambitious modern young woman. I agree with another comment that we should not parse compassion-make her unworthy of empathy because of her wealth and privilege. Harry lost his mom young and was not given any mental health care which really affected his life. I think the interview in fact helped people in a number of ways–to see Megan say she was despairing enough to consider suicide gives many folks ashamed of their despair a very public role model and makes it more ok to ask for help. And just the fact that she is mixed race and married into a lily white royal caste shows an important normalization of where people of color belong–anywhere they want to be, I am happy the couple spoke out and revealed the monarchy for what it is–they brought fresh air into a stagnant and elitist system.

    1. She is al those things, but that has nothing to do with what I wrote about the need to pay attention to our own poor and needy, especially now..

      1. Do you think an Oprah special on the modern nomads is gonna change a single thing? Did Steinbeck’s work change things for the Dust Bowl refugees?

        1. I can’t speak for the nomad movie, it’s a different world, but Steinbeck’s novel was explosive, it helped to a great extent to alert people to the suffering of the plains farmers…

    2. I agree with not leaving anyone out of receiving compassion or concern. I know we have to prioritize who receives help and understanding. So we should become better citizens and help those most in need. My mantra for a while has been : Democracy takes Participation. Now more than ever
      I will say that Oprah has covered many worthy social ills. I hope she continues more in the future. Your article was very worthwhile , and helped. Thanks.

  13. I agree with Meg; the suffering of the one does not negate the suffering of the other.
    I usually find your columns illiminating and true — this one, for me, was an exception. On the other hand, you continue to expand and deepen my vision with most of your columns. Thank you for that, and for your courage in sharing your viewpoint.

    1. Nicely said, Kally, if you agreed with me all the time, there would be no point in reading me at all. Thanks for your honest comment.No one said anything about negating anyone’s suffering, except for the poor, jobless and hungry who are wandering America looking for work and money for food. They have been negated and ignored.

  14. Jon, you’ve certainly stirred the pot with this commentary. I’ve always admired the apparent dedication of the British Monarchy, however, I’ve written to Robert Lacey today to suggest he might consider writing a book: The Firm, Past & Present, the Business of being the British Royal Family. I feel the Royal Family, for decades, have lived lives orchestrated by those who run the Institution of the Monarchy. They have a vested interest in keeping it going. In this generation of royals, Prince Charles was told he had to get married, so whoever was in charge of finding a suitable bride for Pr. Charles, Diana Spencer, was the chosen one. I doubt he was in love with her, she was nineteen years old, but he had to provide an heir to the throne. If that doesn’t smack of callousness, I don’t know what does. Look at the miserable life Diana ended up with. The so-called accident in the tunnel in France was not to me, an accident. It would be interesting to look back into the history of the royal family and see just how their lives have been manipulated by those who have had a vested interest in keeping the monarchy going at the cost to the people involved. I don’t feel the interview was all that shocking nor worth the publicity it has garnered. The British press assassinated Meghan Markle, for reasons of selling news. And yes, with racism being part of it. Her half sister ‘Samantha’ has used her for her own self-promoting purposes. I don’t blame either Meghan or Harry for wanting to speak out but it was against the British tabloids, and had very little to do with the family other than the remark about Pr. Charles. I taught quilting in Scotland twice and the last time, I was driven back down to England by a person of the aristocracy and his wife to catch a plane back to Canada. It was apparent to me that they considered England still had levels of class snobbery. They didn’t buy into it and were not anxious to be defined by the inherited title about to be bestowed on them. I do feel the British Monarchy is going to slowly peter out. Everyone is entitled to their voice, that’s what this interview, to me was all about. And it’s certainly giving the media something to write about. And bash Harry and Meghan about. No I didn’t buy into her not knowing what she was getting into but getting into the family, she was given the short end of the stick and I do believe what she had to say about the Institution.
    Sandy Proudfoot

  15. This was a great post-thanks Jon. I usually like to read stuff about the Royals but had absolutely no interest in watching this interview. Your post is the first thing I have read about the show. I think it shows a real lack of class to air your family laundry in such a public manner.

  16. We live in a strange world where people’s private business is publicly aired this way. Why do they think the public needs to understand them? I guess it is the narcism that Harry was born into as a royal and that made Megan become a TV star. As for Oprah, I have never been a big fan. A childless person who tells others how to raise our kids & an unmarried person telling us how to live out our marriages is far too full of herself to interest me.

  17. Well I find it “less than” for anyone…writer or not…to further cast blame and make fun of people’s pain because they are privileged. Pain and suffering…being “controlled”…is a dynamic that people can’t escape until they have the support they need.
    I am glad they shared their story. Don’t blame the victim. Their experience does not need to be compared with other issues.

    1. I’m not blaming anyone Sus, we just disagree about see them as such piteous victims… Three production deals in a month – Disney, Spotify, Netflix..I think they’ll be okay after trashing the life’s work of the one person who was good for them..

  18. Hi Jon,
    I respectfully disagree with you in some ways. I think we can have compassion and empathy for both Harry/Meghan and everyone else suffering in America today. As humans I don’t think we have a limited amount of compassion to go around. Sure, wealthy people have tons of money, but they can be suffering too. Sure, poor people have no money and they can be suffering too. I’d like to see an America in which we have compassion and empathy for everyone who feels pain for whatever they may be lacking in their lives. I don’t see it as an either or and I’d like to stop comparing people’s suffering to judge whose is worst. Who am I to judge anyone’s relative suffering to say one is worst than the other? If you have ever been on the verge of suicide or a break down (and I read that sweet, short book of yours!), then you know pain is pain no matter whether you have tons of money or no home at all. I know some very wealthy people who are miserable and some very poor people on the edge who are quite content. I just try to open my heart to all of it and not judge who is worse off. I do agree, however, that Oprah did have some moments of forced outrage!!

    1. Mary, thank you for putting this so well. I don’t have any more to add, except to say I’m wary of anything that comes out of corporate media and usually take it with a grain of salt.

  19. Another great compare and contrast essay, Jon. I love when your writing helps me to organize my thoughts. I was spinning yesterday after that interview and became grounded after reading your piece. Also, read the book Nomadland when it was first published and could not wait to see the movie. Maybe Harry and Meaghan will watch it.

  20. Great writing. Once again, dogs prove to still better than people. Thank you. It’s Diana not Diane though.

  21. 1st time reader,new admirer,,,,you read my mind on everything,,,,so,so true,,,cry each time I think of it all,and where we are going?? Brilliant

  22. Wow!! As someone who knows the suffering of depression and seen the tragedy of suicide, and whose friend has experienced blatant racism , I’m disturbed that you didn’t even watch 75% of the interview , yet you choose to simply whine on and on about the interview simply being about rich people privilege . Of course it’s more worthy to see the suffering of the homeless , poor and barely making it middle class (which my family has and is experiencing ), but to have a famous person go on live TV and share their suffering of depression and almost killing herself and the pain of racism helped the common person relate and feel like even wealthy privileged people have serious problems and that money and privilege doesn’t always mean happiness .
    I agree that far more attention needs to be given to the suffering of families like my own and those doing far worse . There are many tv specials that have cornered those. But don’t blame Oprah for the suffering . Blame the filthy immoral greed of corporate America and politicians (almost exclusively Republicans) who always vote against easing our suffering and vote to make their privileged life even more so. Also blame the pathetic non voters , those who refuse to vote because they think it won’t make a difference, feel so absurdly that both parties are the same or Republican poor idiots who keep voting against their own self interests because they would rather starve than vote to give those they hate (blacks, gays, etc ) equal rights . At least Oprah and Harry and Meghan will use their privilege for good. They champion the causes of the 99%, donate millions to them and support policies and politicians that support us. Now stop being jealous and do your part.

    1. Interesting that Harry and Meghan fled England to avoid the relentless media scrutiny but gave Oprah a two-hour interview seen all over the world. A good move for a couple that has production deals with Netflix, Spotify and Disney and who love and are grateful to their Queen but did more damage to the institution she loves so much, thanks to an interviewer who invited Meghan’s mother to her yoga class months ago..Meghan is perhaps the last person in North America to be shocked to earn that the monarchy is inherently and viscerally racist. Has she ever seen those photos of the family all white and ribboned on the palace steps? Did she never ask her husband, the son of Princess Diania? I have no snarky insults for you, FILO, I’ll leave that to you. We just disagree, it’s not more evil than that.

      1. The relentless media scrutiny you allude to is exactly how and why they ended up sitting with Oprah. The whole point of the interview was for them to give their side of constant negative or complete fabrications about them.

        There is a whole cottage industry of making Meghan out to be a gold-digging bully while Kate is labeled as wholesome, white goodness and the standard for a princess in waiting to join her husband’s king as his queen (or princess).

        It is these racist storylines that the press has pushed that Meghan and Harry are fleeing for the safety of themselves and their children.

        When Meghan and Harry mentioned that someone in “the firm” questioned how dark their offspring will be every black person on earth felt that. The article described their revelations as whining. Then the article states that the real focus should be on the homeless and jobless population meanwhile million to billions of people of color felt that singe of racism regarding the quip about the color of the children. Let’s keep in mind the centuries of colonization by the crown. That pain is still felt to this day.

        Maybe the author of this article is not up to the task of this particular topic and makes quite ridiculous stretches in logic to make a point. Meghan and Harry have absolutely nothing to do with the state of homelessness and joblessness in America. That problem lays at the feet of our elected officials and the giant corporations that they collude with. Perhaps have the guts and fortitude to have that conversation.

        1. So, Ramona, let me try to understand this line of thinking: in order to avoid relentless media scrutiny, they agreed to do a two hour, super-hyped interview with Oprah, seen by 17 million Americans and many more overseas. Can you please let me know how doing this interview – which has drawn attention from media all over the planet – is doing to give them peace, privacy and security? And discourage further attention? Are you suggesting that a two-hour special on CBS with the most famous interviewer in the world is not media? I guess Harry and Meghan weren’t so disgusted by media attention, after all, it is no longer threatening their mental health. Good luck to them.

  23. I absolutely could not put this article down. I kept following around my husband early this morning reading pieces of your phrases.
    Your wit, your ability to express through words through your own lens is magnificently mastered.
    I thank you for opening up my mind with my morning brew!
    I want more!

  24. I started watching Nomadland because Frances McDormand was in it, but kept watching because the storyline swept me away. It is a sad reality that this has what becomes of our older generation. The day of retiring at 65 with a pension and benefits is long gone and it tells me that our country needs to take a good long hard look at itself. I could not and would not, watch the interview. Those two have everything they could possibly want or need in life and have absolutely no business throwing their family under the bus. Thank you for this column, as usual, you hit the nail on the head.

  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Even before Nomadland which is so moving I have been reading every article I can find about the coming crisis of homelessness for elderly women. The largest growing population of homeless will be women over 50. These predictions were before Covid-19 forced many in this group out of jobs that will never come back. What will we feel when we see this? I fear not much as we did little for homeless families with small children.
    I dream of creating communities that bring together the vulnerable elderly and young families to support each other in a cooperative housing, sharing cooking, gardening and babysitting. We need to take the money from the war machine and help the needy.
    I too have been surprised by President Biden’s compassion and empathy. It is almost like a state of shock from the last 4 years. Maybe he can show us how to care again about taking care of our citizens basic human needs.
    I am sorry what Meghan endured but now we need to focus on reality as our cities fill with the homeless who need real compassion.

  26. Have we really slumped so low into cancel culture/ woke culture that we cannot fathom the opinion being expressed? We are in a swamp of empty souls- not thinking or pondering but reacting and accepting whatever (it seems) the media dishes out. I so hope this is bottom because we have a long way back.

  27. Jon, I wandered across this piece this morning while reading the news. It was a sort of cosmic moment, really, because my wife and I had been constantly discussing the Oprah interview since it aired. We didn’t watch it, we’ve just read the highlights, and it bothered me that Oprah made Harry and Meghan’s plight so deplorable, and we talked about the people who were eating ramen noodles and searching for jobs so they could feed their children while the politicians complained about “socialism,” as if they actually could define socialism. And then your article appears, and it is so spot on about what our country has become. Sad, but true, and you spoke it. Thank you for this.

  28. I cannot thank you enough for making me feel less lonely in my bitter thoughts about the absurdity of our world .
    Nomadland is indeed admirable , never falling into the usual Hollywood drama and keeping a foot into the real beauty of life , always around, always available , almost making us hope to be forced into a camper to rediscover it .
    So much humanity in this movie, real people with real feelings and real honor and dignity .
    The contrast with the Oprah interview is inconceivable , although nothing surprises me any more .
    I feel like we have been going forward with the same recipe of selfishness for ever and this is the result … is it fixable without a huge destructive event ? Perhaps nature will reestablish the balance we lost , will it happen “naturally “?
    I honestly do not think so .

  29. Look. Oprah ALWAYS interviews the rich. Stop being a pansy ass and being jealous it wasn’t you getting interviewed.

  30. Why can’t Oprah interview who she wants?
    I enjoyed it. Lots of people suffer & will continue to suffer all over the world, some more than others. That’s life.

    1. Is someone forbidding Oprah to interview who she wants? Why can’t Jon write about what he wants?

  31. I am a little shocked at the lack of compassion for the suffering expressed by Harry and Meghan. No matter how much money they have, what their family backgrounds are or what lucrative deals they’ve made (recently), they “might” be speaking very sincerely about times that were devastatingly hard for them. I have no need to snark at them about that. Sometimes ‘external’ suffering (lack of $$) and internal suffering (racism, etc.) aren’t really very comparable, and don’t correlate. And I agree with previous posters – mixing in the Nomadland story and acting like we should only have compassion for those who are suffering IF they are more poor, feels dangerously confusing. For me, their interview came across as authentic, pained and articulate; speaking of family rejection and racism and depression was probably not easy at all – but important. I thought Oprah’s questions were pointed and deepened the conversation. I don’t need to compare them to a movie or to a different population of “sufferers” – we can always find people doing worse. But that doesn’t mean whatever suffering we’re facing or hearing about is less important or less deserving. For all the times you show great compassion and sympathy for folks’ suffering, it’s hard to read your lack of it here. I don’t feel I have the right (need?) to declare someone else’s suffering valid or invalid.

    1. Sorry for the shock, Cathy, I hope you get past it…Everyone’s suffering is valid, everyone’s suffering is not equal

    2. Thank you, Cathy. I am feeling exactly the same way. I respect your empathy and I appreciate you expressing your thoughts so well. I am nomadic and live in a van myself, I do not feel like I am suffering. I do not feel many in the movie Nomadland feel they are suffering either. I have met some of the ‘real nomads’ from the movie. They’re happier and more fulfilled than most people I have met who live in fancy suburban homes. Suffering is subjective. I am someone who has struggled with depression and mental illness, someone who has been well off and quite poor, someone who has lived in nice homes and a couple of awful homes without power or water. I found Megan and Harry’s interview honest and meaningful. Their suffering may be different, but it is no less heartfelt and authentic.

  32. Excellent call to values reality. I think many respondents here are missing your intended point i don’t think you dismissed whatever suffering was experienced by the Suxxesses but rather the fact that the much more widespread suffering of those in Nomadland, and countless others is perennially ignored, that a kerfuffle about a children’s book can arouse the ire of a party when outright outrageous anti-democratic operations by same are tolerated.
    The world, our sensitivities and sensibilities, is distracted routinely. And nothing changes. Hours of dialog will follow re: the monarchy, Meghan, Harry, Dr. Seuss. Oprah misses the real point. She COULD change her focus to accomplish real goals beyond momentary notice, to empower many more people, to foment meaningful consciousness raising.
    I think your column was excellent.

  33. Great article! For someone who claims to be so enlightened and independent, is clearly confident and intelligent, I have a hard time believing she knew nothing of the Royal Family before marrying in to it. I don’t buy for a minute that an intelligent woman walks into a situation no questions asked. That goes against intelligence. Harry said he didn’t know he was trapped until Megan showed him. Hmmmmm…..Narcissistic behavior at its best. She comes dancing in to the Firm and Family and immediately starts trying to change them and convinces Harry he is in living Hell. WTH!

  34. Jon,

    Thanks for putting your thoughts and opinions out there.

    I thought I was alone in my reaction to the phenome of Harry and Meghan – which started as concern but has turned into visceral, negative astonishment as they manufacture their own reality and revenue streams . I have always felt that Meghan had a master plan. She is smart, ruthless and completely in control.

    I watched Nomadland. It was honest, real and brutal. It made me cry. I am not sure what possessed Oprah to support the ex-Royals – other than money. Because on so many levels, it always seems to get back to money. I have been an Oprah fan in the past but I guess everyone can take a wrong turn. Perhaps the two ladies share a kindred soul – recognizing what it takes to succeed in the world and having the strength to see it thru. They are in the same club.

    With all that is going on in the world / US, that the media and Oprah choose to focus on this farce is disheartening.

  35. good article.. you hit the nail on the head.. thanks! i saw nomadland, but i didn’t see the oprah royal show…

  36. Brilliant and accurate article that could not have been more on point. I watched part of the whiny brats and their clueless interview. I was amazed Oprah could even speak, she had her nose so far up their arses ! I am one of these seniors who lost everything in the last recession and will never regain my ability to have financial, physical and emotional security. Spoiled rich Megan in her $ 4,000.00 designer dress may cry crocodile tears and consider suicide at the belief that some unnamed co-rich person said a few inappropriate words about her kid’s skin color, but that doesn’t compare to how I and other’s like me live. No chance for retirement, forced to work menial jobs, constant worries about having enough money for food and rent, no health insurance, sick and in pain. Megan and Harry and every single rich jerk like them can go blank themselves.

  37. I retired early at 62 a year and a half ago. I was having health problems that didn’t allow me to work full time so for me it was worth it to retire with $500 less a month. I can’t afford to do repairs on my 20-year-old RV that I live in. When I get my $1,400 check I’m going to get my plumbing fixed so I can have running water again after being without it for almost two years. My water is only off due to water leaks because I do live in an old RV trailer park with city water.
    I do have a better life than the people on Nomadland because I don’t have to do backbreaking work to be able to afford to live an extremely spartan life. I watched the movie the day it came out on Hulu and I also watched it another time with a friend. It really opened my eyes up to how hard life is for some retired people. I hope millions of people watch it and it has the same effect as it had on me so that it opens up their eyes as well.

  38. Jon, thank you for writing this post. I have seen excerpts of the interview, something seemed off to me but I couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering me. You summed it up perfectly. Just think if our celebrity obsessed culture could turn its focus on helping our struggling neighbors.

  39. I watched Harry and Megan… cause I didn’t need to watch Nomadland, again. I really enjoyed your compare and contrast piece here and plan to share it in the nomadland world. We far outnumber the few “Megan’s and Harry’s” and have great compassion for one another. Swankie from Nomadland

  40. It’s just me but I’d much rather read about Orson eating donkey poo than anything about Oprah or the “royals”.
    I’m perfectly OK that others find this interesting. To each his own. There’s umpteen other TV channels with old Westerns, dog & animal shows, antiques appraisals, etc. that I truly enjoy.
    If none of that’s available I can always grab one of Jon’s books off the back of the toilet.

    1. Steve, I believe in a world where I can write about both of I wish, I reject limiting my mind and my writing only to dogs and poop. Your choice is to read what you want and skip what you don’t. I work hard at both,and for free. That seems fair to me, and that’s the way it’s going to be. If you want a refund (and have subscribed) just ask…

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