Things happen every day, both extraordinary and horrendous, to regular human beings. Despite this, western society has a fascination with the comings and goings of anyone the spotlight has hit – regardless of whether they have bathed in it or simply been grazed by it. Tabloid magazines dominate the newsstands, seemingly covering every movement celebrities make.
I hate it.
I hate that the media focus on the exploits of famous people when the very same thing happens to ordinary people on a regular basis. People outside of the spotlight fall seriously ill, have marriage breakdowns, have babies and fall in love. And, it’s not just that we report on these things that aren’t newsworthy – mainstream media follow these developments at the expense of real news. We are ignorant to so much that is happening in our world.
Beyond that, I feel sorry for the families of celebrities. Nobody deserves their childhood tainted by constant exposure and pestering; no parent should see their child dragged through dirt. I have less sympathy for the celebs themselves who, generally, enter the profession with an understanding of the industry but their loved ones have no choice in the matter.
Where am I going with this?
I hate the fascination with famous people when ordinary lives are enriched and destroyed on a daily basis but… this year appears to have taken more celebrity lives than any other in memory.
And so, for a short while at least, I’m happy to indulge in fandom.
I’ve seen social media posts boasting, “for those hating on 2016 I imagine _______ was worse,” with the blank replaced by years decimated by plague or warfare but I can’t empathise with these. It’s not that I’m unsympathetic towards the people affected by these catastrophic events but the posts themselves are not written with any emotion, they are just sarcastic digs aimed at people lamenting the deaths of those they admire. Likewise, there is another post that says “RIP every ordinary person who died this year” that is devoid of feeling.
Here’s the thing, when a non-famous person dies it impacts the people who have known them. With celebrities and the amount of exposure they receive people feel as if they do know them to an extent and so, when they die, it is natural to be upset. Compound that with the sheer number of famous people who have died this year and it’s easy to see why people are grieving.
It is easy to label these people as TV/movie stars, musicians and writers but that diminishes their impact. These people were role models, humanitarians, activists and icons. Many of them – through their lyrics, their novels and the various characters they have played – have helped shape the people we have become.
I direct you now to Perth performance poet Scott-Patrick Mitchell who said:
#deepthoughts // every person listed here has taught our society & culture an aspect of humanity that we have, collectively, resonated with. mourn them, yes, but more importantly learn from their abilities, carry that in your heart and use their strengths to make yourself stronger. they were here for a reason. so are you.
David Bowie, 69 Rock icon
Alan Rickman, 69 Actor
Glenn Frey, 67 Eagles rocker
Jimmy Bain, 68 Rainbow rock star
Frank Finlay, 89 Acting great
Terry Wogan, 77 TV & radio legend
Maurice White, 74 Earth Wind & Fire star
Harper Lee, 89 To Kill A Mockingbird author
Frank Kelly, 77 Father Ted star
George Kennedy, 91 Movie great
Tony Warren, 79 Coronation St creator
George Martin, 90 Beatles producer
Keith Emerson, 71 ELP rock legend
Sylvia Anderson, 88 Lady Penelope
Frank Sinatra Junior, 72 Sinatra’s singer son
Paul Daniels, 77 Comedy magician
Gary Shandling, Comedian
Patty Duke, 69 Child star
Ronnie Corbett, 85 Comedy legend
Denise Robertson, 83 TV agony aunt
Merle Haggard, 79 Country legend
David Gest, 62 TV personality
Victoria Wood, 62 Comedy genius
Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, 46 WWE wrestling legend
Lonnie Mack, 74 Blues guitar great
Prince, 57 Pop icon
Guy Hamilton, 93 Bond director
Billy Paul, 80 Chart star
Guy Clark, 74 Country legend
John Berry, 52 Beastie Boys star
Alan Young, 96 Mister Ed TV star
Nick Menza, 51 Megadeth drummer
Burt Kwouk, 85 Pink Panther star
Carla Lane, 87 Liver Birds writer
Muhammad Ali, 74 Boxing legend
Henry McCullough, 72 Wings guitarist
Anton Yelchin, 27 Star Trek’s Chekov
Bernie Worrall, 72 Funkadelic star
Scotty Moore, 84 Elvis’s guitarist
Caroline Aherne, 52 Comedy actress
Alan Vega, 78 Suicide punk pioneer
Kenny Baker, 81 Star Wars’ R2-D2
Dalian Atkinson, 48 Villa cup hero
Bobby Hutcherson. 75 Jazz musician
Toots Thielemans, 94 Jazz musician
Gene Wilder, 83 Comic genius
Alexis Arquette, 47 Transgender actress
Charmian Carr, 73 Sound of Music’s Liesl
Arnold Palmer, 87 Golfing legend
Thomas Mikal Ford, 52, Martin Sitcom
Jean Alexander, 90 Corrie’s Hilda Ogden
Pete Burns, 57 Dead or Alive chart star
Bobby Vee, 73 1960s teen idol
Leonard Cohen, 82 Iconic singer & writer
Robert Vaughn, 83 Veteran actor
Leon Russell, 74 US rock legend
Colonel Abrams, 67 80s chart star
Florence Henderson, 82 Brady Bunch star
Ron Glass, 71 US TV star
Andrew Sachs, 86 Fawlty Towers star
Peter Vaughan, 93 Game of Thrones star
Ian Cartwright, 52 Wolves midfielder
John Glenn, 95 First to orbit Earth
Greg Lake, 69 ELP legend
AA Gill, 62 Writer & critic
Ian McCaskill, 78 TV weatherman
Walter Swinburn, 55 Derby winning jockey
Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99 Actress
Rick Parfitt, 68
Richard Adams, author of Watership Down
George Michael, 53 Singer
Ricky Harris aka Taadow, 54 Comedian
Liz Smith, 95 Actress
Carrie Fisher, 60 Actress
Sadly, that list is now incomplete with at least two more celebrity deaths that have occurred since it was posted.
May they rest in peace.