Celebrity Death. Squirrels Could Teach Us So Much.

Am I actually doing this? Yes, I think I am. So then, Whitney Houston is dead, which is as tragic as it is when anyone I don’t know dies earlier than is usual in western countries in this day and age. It is. At no point during the potentially offensive ramblings that follow, is the suggestion that it isn’t upsetting when someone dies implicit. I’m not saying that, because it is. Close family will hurt, they will be angry, they will feel loss. It is not pleasant for anyone involved. Hopefully this prologue will absolve me from any blame or feelings of personal hatred. It won’t, but at least I’ve tried.

The thing – well, the first thing – is that I’m not close family. I’m not even extended family. I’ve not even fingered a cousin at a wedding. As far as I’m aware nobody I know is related to the bereaved either, no one at work, no one down the pub: no one. Nor are the news readers, editors of the many papers reporting to be devastated, or any of the other media types boo-hooing. Frankly, most of us had forgotten she existed and, unless The Bodyguard came on, forcing us to hastily change the channel, we weren’t any the worse off. Just in case anyone has forgotten the paragraph just up there, yup, that one up there, I’m not suggesting her death, or indeed anyones, is good, funny or anything other than sad. Thought I’d remind you of that because you might have forgotten.
I’m not trying to single out this most recent celebrity death either. No no, that’s not me at all. There was Diana (Princess of our hearts TM), Michael Jackson, Jade Goody and Steve Jobs. All of their deaths were sad, as stated, and premature. Premature in the sense that, without the intervention of high speed traffic and pillars, strange medical conditions and dodgy doctors and horrible, horrible cancer, all of these people would most likely have lived much longer lives. They didn’t however, they died. And we went mental, we bloody loved it – not in a cackling, glad they were gone way (at least, not most of us) – but in a ‘that gives us something to talk about, feel caring about, excite our lives with’ kind of a way. Mostly, not in an evil way, but kind of in a selfish way. It’s ok, it really is, though it is a bit ghoulish.
In some cases of celebrity death, before the actual dying part, we hated them. Like, proper, powerful, seething, unjustified, snobby, weird hate. They were entertaining to us in their position of hate figure, just as they would be in their death. A water cooler discussion, a headline, a distraction, something to make us feel better or worse. In those instances it is even more hypocritical, ugly and shameful to suddenly, as they say, spin on a dime, and declare how much we will miss them, how much they were loved, how much they meant to us. That’s pretty sick right there. At least be consistent. If you dislike someone in life, it’s perfectly alright to continue that dislike of them and what they stood for once they are gone, whilst respecting the fact that it is a sad event for those involved. But not you. You’re not involved.
Another thing that springs to mind is that there are a good few of us who have probably not gone to an actual family members funeral. A handful of us who barely mention the passing of a distant relation. Some of us who even refused to go to the funeral, or be in any way involved in anything to do with it, for whatever reason. Yet on hearing about the death of a complete and utter stranger we were mortified. Can anyone see the wrongness here? Yeah, you can. It’s utterly ridiculous to cry over the heap of cuddly toys and messages outside the gates of whoevers home, when you didn’t feel any sense of loss or sadness for someone within your personal family life, someone who will have affected you and your self, in some way, even if you’d rather they hadn’t. The proportions are wrong, the emotions are topsy turvy, as usual things are somewhat broken.

That’s not to say one can’t feel a passing sorrow on hearing about someones death, in fact it is a sign that there is a a bit of humanity left in you. If it’s genuine sorrow and not News of the World sorrow that is, but only you can really know that. It’s just not normal to get hysterical about a strangers death, even an inconceivably wealthy one who can do something a bit better than most others. Squirrels don’t do it, even when there’s a squirrel that can store nuts a bit better than the rest of them, so neither should you. Squirrels: a good yardstick.

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