As i’m sure you all know, Hurricane Whitney has flooded Facebook and each day this week another classic video washes ashore. In response, every day someone posts some variety of this:
Let’s take a minute to stop being consumed with celebrities and think about the others who have lost their lives this week.
That statement is then followed by a mention of some great champion of social justice, or a US soldier, or even simply a loving mother whose family will be devastated without her. And while all of those loses are great, it is usually stated in a manner that i find to be mildly offensive to Ms. Houston…. but considering my above photo compilation, i’m not going to judge their lack of respect too harshly.
Before the days of Facebook, i was never really aware of how many celebrity allegiances we have. I’ve been trying to think of pre-cyber celebrity deaths that would have made a big dent in my adolescent Facebook wall. I suppose most notably would have been River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain. They weren’t incredibly moving to ME, but they were definitely two deaths that i feel defined my generation, for better or for worse. My most vivid celebrity death memory is actually Donna Reed, but only because my pastor let his kids stay home from school that day. I wish MY parents had been that cool.
I’ve recently heard it called obscene and silly to mourn the death of a celebrity with any amount of seriousness. I find that idea not only offensive to the human race, but even more specifically to those whose craft has garnered them fame. Art is something that profoundly effects each of us. It gives us a connection to the artist and it creates a relationship. That’s what all artists hope for, isn’t it? To have their work effect someone? I have some friends who are definitely feeling the loss of Whitney. They have been changed by her art. She didn’t have a huge effect on my life, although i DID listen to her version of “I Will Always Love You” repeatedly. I taped it off the radio and would rewind that Memorex cassette about 10 times each night as i sat in bed with my walkman. You know, the one that looked like this…
Still, i felt no connection to the artist.
But i will admit that i mourned Amy Winehouse a bit. It’s strange that i felt any connection at all to an artist whose work reflected a lifestyle so different from my own, but there is something to be said for singing with such authenticity. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I like alcohol. In fact, if i had the makings for a mimosa, i’d probably be drinking one right now… but you’re not going to find me face down in an orange puddle after a bender. It’s not as if the death of an addict is ever a surprise, but it made me think about how lucky i am to have never been put in situations where making that mistake would be easy. When i sing in the car, this is soul i imagine coming out of my voice…
Another celebrity death this year that stuck with me was Yvette Vickers.
Some of you probably heard this sad story. She was a former Playboy bunny and starred in Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, a cult classic to be enjoyed by all, as well as other terribly awesome B-movies. She was found dead in her home after a neighbor noticed yellowed mail and cobwebs growing in her mailbox. Coroner’s report said she could have been dead for about a year. Married twice, divorced twice, still received email from fans on a regular basis…. and she died alone. ALONE. ALOOOOOOOOOONE (That’s how this story sounds inside my head).
Other celebrity deaths this year that affected me, even if only for a moment: Pete Postlethwaite, Jack LaLanne, Harry Morgan…
What current celebrity will bring YOU a sense a loss when they pass? I think the whole world will miss Betty White and her birthday should become a national holiday. I should go ahead and start lobbying for that. I’ll feel a punch to the gut when we lose Robert Conrad and Leonard Nimoy. Which celebrity is YOUR greatest love of all?