I have miraculously made it through this year without blogging anything about the election or politics in general. That would be a slippery slope that I don’t want to go down. I don’t want to reflect on this year in general. For me, it was a landmine. Jump right, youre safe. Jump left…shit blows up. So I am happy to be moving into 2017 with myself and my family intact. That is something HUGE to be grateful for. I’m coming out on top.
What I DO want to talk about as the year wraps is something I noticed in spades this past week and that really got under my skin.
Obviously we’re all aware we lost a LOT of entertainment and progressive icons in 2016. Being kicked off by David Bowie and ending with the surreal loss of Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds. In between, Prince, Natalie Cole, John Glenn, Muhammed Ali…literally keep going…forever.
It seemed like a record year of artistic, creative, scientific LOSS compounded by our politics moving in anti-progressive, anti-scientific way. I mean, the polar opposite of anything sane.
I saw many tributes to these artists as their names were called. What they meant to people, how they first fell in love with them, favorite songs, and facebook became like a digital funeral. What I also saw, (less of for sure, but prominent) were, for lack of a better word, haters. Hahahaha. These snotty, holier than thou attitudes TOWARD people who give a shit about celebrities passing away.
From–“who cares?” to “you don’t know what happiness and self worth is”–to “people die in _______ everyday.” I remembered why I hate facebook and have spent so much time away from it this year.
EVERYONE THINKS THEIR OPINION IS IMPORTANT AND WORTH HEARING. It’s not.
I was really disgusted by literally ALL of these thoughts spewed out–for no real reason.
If you don’t care if someone died, when is it ever not totally rude to say it? Unless they’re a terrible fucking person. It’s still a life. And THESE people have SHARED their lives for OUR benefit and entertainment. Why should we be able to connect with them in life but not mourn for them in death? Because people die everyday across the world? Really? And what exactly are you doing for those people, anyway? You’re PROBABLY not actively thinking about them, until someone is sad about Prince and you decide to be an asshole and remind them that the whole world is tragic.
WE KNOW THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD IS TRAGIC.
There is room for all types of tragedy. For me, in my own sensibilities, I can donate money to Aleppo, pray for the Paris, give blood for Orlando, vote AGAINST the death penalty, bury my Guinea Pig in the backyard AND give an absolute fuck that a person I used to listen to or watch with my grandparents is no longer with us, along with another chip from my childhood memories.
To me, this serves as a token of the further dismantling of human empathy.
You don’t care that a famous person died and you think the people that do care have no self worth. Hmmm. (Well, THAT sounds incredibly happy and well adjusted) You don’t care that a famous person died because there’s a terrible war right now…but they both exist, one isn’t a reason to denounce the other.
Listen, no one has to care about anyone else dying. That is true as true can be. But why put your apathy on display?
When Lemmy from MotorHead died, it didn’t affect me in the same way as some of the others. But I watched other friends be truly heartbroken. Because to them, he was an artist that taught them MORE about themselves. That opened things inside of them, that may have stayed closed forever without his contribution to the world. And THAT’S why this matters. These aren’t just “famous people” they are citizens who have given back to us in remarkable ways, ways that go beyond their art and affect us personally.
How many trans and queer kids felt the courage to be themselves because of Bowie, or Prince or George Michael? Who may have never thought there was anyone out there like them, until they saw Purple Rain or a WHAM! video?
How many young black men found strength in the poetry and beliefs of Muhummed Ali?
How many kids dreamed of going to the moon to walk in John Glenns footsteps? Grew up watching Dave Mirra ride his bike to the sky? Or watching Garry Marshalls sitcoms with their families for years and years?
I know at least ONE Celine Dion OBSESSED 14 year old girl who visited the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal, where Celine got married, (and walked up the aisle slowly, tears streaming down her face) who watched Celine’s husbands funeral in that very same church this year. A surreal full circle.
I imagine for some people the best memories of their lives have more to do with Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman, than with the reality of their surroundings. I’ve read many stories that start with childhood escapism through entertainment to eschew problematic home lives.
I told people Chuck Norris was my father for MANY years, since I didn’t have one…god, the confessions roll. And you better believe I’ll be a wreck when he dies. I barely made it through The Expendables 2.
To say that WE don’t even know these people, is unjust in my mind. I feel like many artists speak to my soul in a more intimate way than most of my loved ones. The parts that you don’t put on display for the world and the parts that they did.
The public mourning of celebrities is in no way to be an “F you” to the tragedies that happen everyday. They don’t trump the loss of our loved ones, or local change makers. They’re not MORE WORTHY of life than the people who are strangers. It’s not about that. But their fame should not dehumanize them either. They’re still just flesh and bone.
Music, movies, TV, books–these are the things people use to escape the worlds atrocities, the things we (think we) can’t do anything about. It makes every sense to me that we would openly mourn those points of view and artistry forever gone from us. And, the parts of ourselves that go with it.
And if we don’t connect with them, we give respect to those who do. Their reason for caring may be bigger than they’ve shared with you. Because you were judgmental, when Bowie wasn’t, so they can’t talk to you about it, but they can listen to Ziggy Stardust and feel recognized. ; )
This year, I hope to stay even further away from facebook and the collective unconsciousness of a platform for verbal and mental diarrhea. I hope to live and breathe mindfulness, clarity and empathy and be surrounded by like-minded souls, who teach and challenge me. I want to keep my kitchen clean, stay away from political poison and excel in my lifes roles.
I want the same (or your version of the same) for all of you.
Happy New Year.