It’s Good to be Dead

The loss of human life is always a sad thing.

Don’t worry, you’re not in any danger of me getting philosophical on you. It’s just plain true. It may not always be sad for you personally. Like, when Hitler died, I’m sure not too many people were sad, but the fact of the matter remains, there’s always gonna be one person who is sad.

But this puts us in some ethically gray area where we end up qualifying people’s lives and their existence based on the number of people miss them. That’s not the point I’m trying to make at all. All I’m saying is, no matter who you are, you’re almost guaranteed that someone will miss you. Someone will inevitably overlook all of your personality flaws and all of the horrible things you did during your lifetime and they’ll miss you.

But the question is, how does that change when you’re a celebrity? When you’re famous, who really knows you? I don’t mean on a grand scale. I just mean, literally, how many people actually and physically know you? Now compare that to the number of people who miss you. It seems pretty disproportionate, doesn’t it?

The person to whom I’m referring to is, of course, Amy Winehouse who passed away several days ago. Now I have my own personal feelings about the life and death of Amy Winehouse, but I’ll try to prevent myself from taking myself too seriously or coming off as too self-righteous. To say “she lived as she died” is probably the most fitting statement and I’ll leave it at that.

But let’s think about it. Her last single was back in 2008. As a celebrity, her light had all but burned out a couple years ago. In truth, the American public was pretty much done with her. This doesn’t make her death righteous or anything, that’s not what I’m saying. But as callous as it sounds, as an entertainer, she had served her purpose. Why, then, the public outcry at her death?

Within a day of her death, her albums like 2006’s “back to Black” returned to the iTunes top selling albums charts and her star status was re-affirmed, but only in death. But what does this say about our culture? I mean, did Amy Winehouse really touch that many people that her passing was emotionally impactful for so many people? I can only speak for myself when I say that I didn’t much care for her music when she was alive, and although I’m sorry for her family and friends, her death did nothing to make me re-assess her music.

The fact remains, this completely disproportionate response supersedes notion of celebrity and stardom. In fact, it seems to speak to very basic human needs that, in particular American culture, foster within us as people. We speak kindly of Amy Winehouse, because in death, she is sanctified. Dead people can do no wrong. It’s something we constantly visit in our culture. hell, there are whole ceremonies that are dedicated to “man, what a great person we lost” even if you were a miserable human being. but more importantly, it speaks to us on a personal level. In speaking kindly of others in death, we hope to guarantee ourselves the same privilege. We have a distinct cultural fear of being forgotten, but even more so, of not being remembered fondly once we are gone.


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