On dead celebrities

So there I was, not thinking about actors or pop icons. And now, I am. But only because it’s so fucking surreal that I should care in any way about the gap that is left in human interaction or consumption or experience. I find that I do care. Legends shouldn’t die so young. Ah, there it is: the Legend. I equate this persona not with a person who sleeps and farts and stubs his toe, but with a story that is written and read and interpreted. And there is no more to the story. There will be epilogue, prologue, subtext, and apocrypha, but the story ends this way, always. With a lacunal chapter on what comes next. Anger and grief are left in the collection for a sentence or a paragraph. And then the ink fades. This specific emotional experience is not of archival quality. And Legends find a way to thrive anyway. Without and beyond me.

5 thoughts on “On dead celebrities

    1. The day triggered the writing, but my thoughts on the subject apply to all the famous people who have died in the last few years. It is to our detriment that we forget the humanity of people in the public eye. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of celebrity and why we mourn the loss of people we only cared about because they diverted us, because we could take without giving and feel entitled to demand more. It is a strange form of selfishness and self-indulgence because, even though I frame the response in a negative way, I don’t believe it is malicious — perhaps just thoughtless, and probably not even unwarranted. Just strange.

  1. Interesting thoughts, I think celebrities should die young, that what really makes them what they are. Look at Paul McCartney, he is not anybody interesting anymore, he should have died before if he wanted to go like a magic star.

    PS: I like what you say about the farts, I think people believe they are perfect, cause they think they live in a Hollywood movie.

    1. I’m afraid I disagree with you on celebrities dying young, mariana. I don’t think it is everyone’s intent “to go like a magic star.” I look at an artist like Leonard Cohen, who turns 75 this year and is still respected and revered by those who know his work, and I fail to see how he or the world would have been better if he had died in his so-called prime. I think it is the tragedy of celebrity that people once in the limelight are never allowed to leave the public eye. I admire celebrities who live beyond their fame and who can be real people again. The personas are not the people, and I think the people who truly love Paul McCartney — not his fans, but his everyday people — would take exception to your claim that “he is not anybody interesting anymore.”

  2. Thanks for this, Jess. Nearly all my friends seem weirdly set on a near point-blank refusal to even acknowledge that this particular person was indeed a Legend, and one we all grew up listening to or reading about. Instead they’re all spouting what seems to be a very fashionable dismissal of the quite natural public shock and interest as nothing more than ‘Princess Diana mawkishness and hypocrisy’.

    Though I’m not giving any tearful voxpop interviews myself, nor making any pilgrimages to lay wreaths, I feel I have to remind some of my friends that this particular case is sort of a little bit rather big. Of course the Earth will keep turning, the Sun will keep rising, and wars will be fought and other lives lost. That doesn’t mean we should dismiss outright the death of someone who was not only highly talented, but a definitive icon of his time and easily the most famous person on the planet.

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