Begrudging Death. Sometimes famous people dying isn’t malicious.Posted: February 13, 2012
“Whitney Houston died today, sad, sure. But the entire world doesn’t need to stop spinning for her. Do you know who else passed these last few weeks that nobody will give a second thought about? … These outstanding men who fought and sweat and suffered and died, so that you all could live peacefully. She met her own fate curled up in a Beverly Hills hotel nursing her selfish drug addictions, Not protecting your freedom as these Marines did.”
So goes the text of a meme showing the faces of six dead Marines, currently running around facebook. expressing anger that the Death of a famous singer and film star is seemingly news. Other memes, similar, though less angry posts attempt to focus frustration on the media state that whilst “One Dies, Millions cry” though “Million’s die, no one cries”; this seems to be less angry with the diseased but still seemingly begrudges her for having the audacity to pass away whilst horrendous amounts of violence is still being played out on the streets of Syria and World hunger hasn’t been solved. A particularly particularly unpleasant element of the annoyance surrounding the coverage of her death is that Ms Houston battled with a drug problem, a fact that seemingly disqualifies her or her family receiving sympathy .
The First time I noticed that people seem to think Celebrates owe them a timely, quiet and wholesome death, was In July of last year when Amy Winehouse died in suspicious circumstances a day after Breivik Geofarm shot and killed 92 teenagers in Norway; Social Media lit up angrily condemning people for thinking that a 27 year old woman who possessed an excellent singing voice and an addictive personality, dying is a bad thing, telling the sentimentalist fools that;
“Amy Winehouse died. That’s a lifestyle choice. The 87 who were murdered in Oslo Norway. That’s effing tragic”
As though there is only a finite amount of grief left in the world, requiring us to ignore all but the most terrible events of the day, lest we hit peek grief and have to find alternative emotional sources, or that Ms. Winehouse was intentionally stealing the limelight from the dead Norwegian teenagers, both of whom I would assume would rather not be in the news for the reasons they were, given the choice. Actually while we”re on this, the violent deaths of nearly a Hundred Norwegian teenagers was horrific, but we all knew who Amy Winehouse was, and she had been more to millions of people that somone who had been murdered. therefore it was entirely valid for millions of people to be as if not more sad that someone who had touched their lives was dead, rather than a series of strangers and your relative grief wouldn’t have comforted the Families of those teenagers more or less unless you knew them personally, which chances are you didn’t. Equally there isn’t a Whitney Houston Fund for rich drug addicts to siphon money from impoverished children, nor is there a significant crossover between humanitarian workers and fanatical Whitney Houston fans meaning that all improvement to world poverty will now stop.
All of this bile was and is being pumped out as though Addicts need to be stigmatized and marginalized more. Like it or not Addiction is a mental disorder, the people who treat it are Doctors and psychiatrists. The excuse for this kind of bullying is usually to question what said addict was doing taking the offending substance in the first place, which willfully ignores the fact that millions of people take millions of potentially addictive substances every day, the fact that the majority of people are addicted to things like caffeine and sugar doesn’t make them morally superior to those who’s chemical dependency turns out to be opiates. Quite apart from attacking a famous figure, the amount of anger at the results of someone’s disease makes it more likely that those sharing that disease will stay in the shadows, resulting in more death, and presumably more anger.
Not that everyone who ever dies is worthy of mass outpouring of public mourning and celebration; a meme published the Day Steve Jobs died pointed out that “Steve Jobs didn’t make your iPad, Chinese Kids did”. I thought this was fair; whilst a fine designer Steve Jobs had headed a company that was guilty of labor relations violations, humiliating and underpaying it’s workers to the extent that they even violated the Chinese Government’s regulations. The fact that he made millions of hipsters happy doesn’t make him immune from derision and scrutiny in death any more than happiness Jerry Fallwell undoubtedly brought to homophobes anywhere shield him from having is grave rightly danced on by certain commentators.
The Difference between Whitney Houston and Steve Jobs is that the person she exploited and abused was herself, and whilst she did that she battled against her addiction as the disease it was. I’m not a major Whitney Huston Fan, my reaction to the news of her death was essentially indifference and I’m already bored with the coverage of her death in the media. It’s still upsetting and creepy to watch people begrudge someone for dying of a disease like addiction because they died before we stopped having wars or world hunger, something which – though incredibly sad – in the case of the Marines, was probably had more a choice than Ms Houston’s demise, considering they were in a volunteer army and no one has ever been treated for liking uniforms too much or received a bonus from the government for getting someone else addicted to crack.
It’s understandable that the death of someone who has though art touched a vast number of people is going to be deemed “newsworthy”, no matter how much people will want to shame addicts, as neither Houston and Winehouse planned to die, and if they had known that so many people where going to be annoyed at how much precious internet based grief they took up, I’m sure they would have been okay with holding on a little longer. Almost all deaths are bad, particularly when they are untimely, I had sort of hoped everyone agreed with that.