Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Celebrity Death Means More


This is going to sound mean, but the death of a celebrity puts more points in the win column than your own. The latest celebration of tragedy concerns Carrie Fisher but the personality doesn’t matter.  Celebrity is the point and you’re invited to unburden yourself of emotions normally reserved for friends and immediate members of one’s own family.  I’m sounding the alarm bells now – it may be that, when you die, there’s not enough emotion left to invite even one tear to flow at your terminal service in this world.

I appreciate people of talent, whether it be Carrie Fisher or George Michael, but I’m finding these excesses a bit hysterical.  You turn on your TV and hear of these celebrity deaths and some talking head or other tries to coax from you some little memory that you can piously share on social media. 

It would be understandable when the celebrity in question is really a giant – say an Ernest Hemingway or a Muhammad Ali – but most of these teary drip-fests are for people of average talent who are hoisted into the celebrity success category by virtue of celebrity parents. This seems to be the case with Carrie Fisher, daughter of film star Debbie Reynolds and handsome Eddie Fisher. How hard can it be to achieve success when celebrity parents have already paved the way and no one dares to question the level of talent?

Part of this sententious kabuki theatre concerns the non-stop dramatization of the deceased celebrity’s struggle with a) drugs b)alcoholism c) mental health issues d) dysfunctional parents e) and most nauseatingly, with celebrity itself.

It’s okay for a news organization to report the death of a Carrie Fisher, a Prince, a George Michael or anyone it wants to.  But there are tabloid newspapers whose function it is to satisfy the consumer need for morbid pathos.  And they do a better job of it than CNN which spends precious hours sharing tired and clich├ęd eulogies of the ‘personality.’ 

I’m sure that the producers of these shows have the obituaries and eulogies already handy, and just pull them out of a drawer (a computer drawer) and use them up as if they are sheets of toilet paper.  You can’t know what’s going on in the world because the internet, too, gets clogged with wet tissue. 

All these eulogies are alike unless the deceased celebrity is a real larger-than-life figure – Malcom X and Martin Luther King come to mind – and at least these giants didn’t die by their own hand.  Some of the most touted celebrities on TV are people you don’t want your kid to emulate so what are they doing?  Haven’t they heard that excessive drinking, risky sex, and drugs aren’t good for them?

Stop please, we’ve had enough!  Our own close friends and family are dying too. So are our soldiers, our cops, our children of the streets.  That their eulogies will be quiet, largely unknown affairs doesn’t make them less important than the death-of-the-month celebrity.  I’m finding this death-of-a-celebrity business very twisted and nearly always these days carried to extremes. 

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