littlemavis

Little_Mavis' rants and musings

Death & Celebrity – An apology (sort of)

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First, please do not be offended by this. I am attempting to explain my point of view. Now we are in the cold light of day I am not trying to tell you that yours is wrong. (I may have done just that in the heat of the moment. sorry) I’m working at understanding it.

I was awake late the other night. I had just read a tweet about this article about NHS health reforms showing how much influence McKinsey & Company’s had on the bill. I thought this was important so I tweeted the link. I planned on tweeting again in the morning. Just as I was switching off for the night, Twitter exploded (metaphorically of course) with news that Whitney Houston had died. I saw the chances of the NHS story being noticed as news receding quickly. Remember the whole “good day to bury bad news” furore a few years ago?

Full disclosure. I actively dislike her type of music and I do not like her renditions (see I’m trying to step carefully here by saying I don’t like it rather than making absolute statements as to its intrinsic quality)

I got a bit cross. I find the whole business of getting upset when a celebrity dies quite distasteful. I don’t understand it at all. You don’t know them, will not meet them, in the case of musical artists you can still buy the records. Also 48 is not especially young after alcohol and drug abuse, many died at a much earlier age. (OK this may sound callous but I’m trying to be honest here)

In the normal course of things, I don’t actually think I would have said anything. I did this time because I felt it was overshadowing something I felt to be more important. I’ll try to exercise more restraint next time. (By the way, I wouldn’t joke, even I’m not so unfeeling)

A few people responded to be about this so (in my usual fashion) went off to look at research. Views on why this happens include people feeling closer to the celebrity than friends & family because they see more of them and identifying with the celebrity though age and other perceived similarities. Someone told me they felt it keenly because her music had been around through their formative years, it certainly wasn’t through mine. The great icons of my youth who have died did so at a much younger age, and just as pointlessly. It was probably as well there was no Twitter when John Lennon was killed. I get it more now than I did before, though not totally. I’m still happy with my view. I still believe people over-react to celebrity deaths, but I accept that it is a facet of the world we live in now.

For a measured response, and good advice, go and read Peter’s (@PME200) blog

It did lead me on to think about the way we react to death. I asked a question on Twitter and got quite a lot of interesting and enlightening responses. I’ll cover that another day

Oh and please, continue to fight for the NHS. It really is worth saving. Sign here if you haven’t already

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Author: littlemavis

Retired teacher. (also Information Scientist, Export Sales Assistant, Sales Administrator, Computer Programmer, Software Support Specialist) Worked in Sixth Form college and recently as support in a primary school.

One thought on “Death & Celebrity – An apology (sort of)

  1. I do understand being irritated by overreactions; but I also understand people’s shock/grief/need to express themselves, I think. When we see someone frequently, on tv or elsewhere, or hear them, to our emotional selves it feels like interaction, & thus a relationship. We may know, logically, that it’s not, but on the level of immediate emotional reaction we’re not very logical. And so I’d be surprised, & family a little disheartened, if people accepted the death of someone they felt was important in their life. Again, it might not be *logical* to care more about that famous person than about the other thousands who died that day–but nor is it *logical* to care more for the death of a friend than a stranger, by that reasoning. As I said, grief, or even just mild sadness, is emotion not reason. And everyone will find that someone different triggers it for them, & will be surprised that someone else reacts differently. Value judgements about the “worth” of the person who died are irrelevant, really. (not that I’m saying you made any. Though I’ll say I find it hard to feel anything but pity for WH’s addiction issues, given the abuse etc. she endured).

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