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Tornography: Say No to the H&M show

It’s been a privilege to be part of America’s ever-growing Embrace magazine the past couple of years. As International Editor I’ve been able to tackle a host of resonant subjects dear to me, from pertinence in Poland to Codebreakers at Bletchley, the fight for freedom in Myanmar, and even celebrating the Dame Bowie in drag. 

I’m delighted to report that in addition to my duties as International Editor, the folks over the pond have seen fit to allow me to wax bitchical and give certain ‘celebrities’ a ticking off in a brand new social satire column, which I’ve named Steve’s Tornography. Just premiered in their new Heroes issue of February 2023 is Say No to the H&M Show. Go…

Celebrities eh. We love them for many things but most of all for their unwavering commitment to their own egos. Above all else, they’re unbelievably skilled at reminding the world they exist. Some of them are even thoughtful enough to furnish us with interesting updates on a daily basis. Mentioning no names, Madonna. And what subtle surgery procedures did you want to show off today?

Happily, I’m able to confirm two new names who have done so much to qualify for entry into this exclusive hyper-narcissism club. They’re two West Coast wonders called Harry and Meghan. Maybe you heard of them? H&M are just a regular family desperate to show the world ‘who they really are’. They live a quiet life in their Californian hideaway, hopelessly devoted to each other and their self-promotion. Well, when I say quiet, that’s excluding the interviews, documentaries, podcasts, and attending award shows more often than the Pope eats pizza.

Not only are they legends in their own heads, but Haz and Megs are actually royalty. And not just any old royalty but the Gucci of royal families — the British monarchy. Yet despite their ‘Megxit’ from Buckingham Palace, the couple retain their official titles. Not that they’d exploit that, obviously.

Having taken everyone by surprise by dying at 96 years of age, Queen Elizabeth was barely cold in her marble mausoleum before we were treated to evidence of her grandson’s latest PR stunt, in the form of the Sussex’s own Netflix series. The show was a masterpiece of annoyance for Buckingham Palace: a historical sob story that doubled as revenge porn over the decision to prioritise the ribbon-cutting deeds of Harry’s bro Prince William over the emotional sibling who’s never going to be king.

Heir and a Spare? Sounds like a clever plug for a memoir, though Ginge & Whinge would have been an infinitely more apt title.

Instagram will load in the frontend.

The boys’ mother Princess Diana married into the royal family in 1981, the year actress Markle was born. She swiftly became one of the 20th Century’s most famous women, hounded to her death by paparazzi, or, depending on your belief system, murdered because she was knobbing that Egyptian. Di’s demise shocked the world not long after she dished the dirt about the dysfunctional Windsors, and when Meg got her Cali claws into Harry he’d been a prince for over three decades. Yet to enter that same archaic institution then claim no clue of the interest or protocols involved is a performance worthy of the shiniest of gongs. Is the man from the Oscars in tonight?

Divorced? American? Catholic school? That was once an unholy trinity of reasons to bar anyone from getting their mitts on a prince. And the poison Penn-born Wallis Simpson wasn’t even Catholic, though she did have the misfortune to have mislaid a couple of husbands before fueling Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936. Of course, public attitudes have moved with the times, and even Hazzer’s father, the sausage-fingered King Charles III is a divorcee, as is his wife, croc-faced Camilla. Better get used to those eggs, kids.

We know all too well how racism is a stain on society in the same way homophobia is, though the royals’ record of absorbing outsiders was patchy even when they were white middle class natives, let alone black blood mixing with blue blood. In my lifetime it’s gone from the bland Kate Middleton (Will’s wife, AKA Karen Carpenter in a tiara) to the so-so Sophie Rhys-Jones (Edward’s wife, though you can call her Beard), to the embarrassing Sarah Ferguson (Prince Andrew’s ex-wife. Well suited much?). 

As they conjure up more exiting ways to infect our feeds, I wonder if Megs will talk Haz into sorting his thinning thatch out. Horsey old Wills lost his looks when he lost his hair and I’d hate it to happen to the hunkier bro too. But while he ponders budgeting for a lifetime’s supply of Rogaine, there’s one male pattern feature this proud spunk won’t be losing any time soon.

Put it this way, any tailor worth his weight in fabrics will tell you that, due to the way pants are designed, men dressing to the right have a markedly more prominent outline of their crown jewels than the majority who go left. Now go freeze frame those YouTube videos of the ginger love muscle in the tightest trousers and tell me it’s not part of his charming narcissism. 

I say we stop giving these haemorrhoids on the derrière of society the attention they crave. Let’s not tune into their shows. Let’s not talk or read about them. And most of all, let’s not write about them. 

This jape will self-destruct in five seconds. 

Steve Pafford

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