24 July 2011

We only said goodbye with words, I died a hundred times

Amy Winehouse’s death, apart from being tragic and a loss of a great musical talent, has exposed the hypocrisy of a mainstream media who revel in the gory details of musicians’ debauchery but pretend that they had nothing to do with the downfall; in some cases even having the nerve to speak out against those who criticise the behaviour that they by turns glorified and ridiculed.

Others have done this as well but the mainstream media is the worst perpetrator of this – showing every photo of every drunken night out, every video of supposed drug use, and every detail of every fight (usually with members of the media who don’t understand an individual’s right to privacy sometimes).

For the public, according to the media, it’s a chance to live vicariously through the actions of the stars, until they become boring, or the media tires of them and moves onto the next victim, or as in this case, they unfortunately die and the media gets to pretend that they always felt sorry for them, rather than admitting that they perhaps played a part in their demise.

If we go back 40 years, when news consisted of more than just showbiz entertainment and gossip magazines weren’t so prevalent, musicians weren’t treated like they are now. People knew how Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, the Rolling Stones and so on behaved, but it wasn’t as glamorised as it is now. So when musicians died as a result of their lifestyle their deaths were treated with real mourning.

It needs to be recognised that musicians are just people, and because of that, they’re just as likely to succumb to temptation as anyone else. Only in their case, their celebrity often makes it that much easier and allows them to believe that their excesses are in fact normal or okay, particularly when surrounded by ‘yes men’ or lackeys, who don’t want to jeopardise their own access to celebrities, or to that lifestyle.

Some people claim that they can’t feel sorry for someone who behaves that way, or overindulges in drugs or alcohol, but that’s to downplay the role addiction plays in some lives and diminishes the musical contribution made and the loss to music – that’s what we should be focussing on at times like these, the good things that came out of a persons’ life, rather than taking a holier-than-thou attitude to how they lived that life.

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