A few days ago, my Twitter stream was filled with pictures and stories of a celebrity who had died. I won’t mention this person’s name out of respect for their loved ones.
This post isn’t about this specific celebrity, anyway. It’s about how western culture thinks of celebrities in general and why I disagree with how they’re treated.
Why don’t I mourn dead celebrities?
I never actually knew them. Listening to someone sing, reading something they’ve written, or watching them perform in front of a camera isn’t the same thing as truly knowing that person as an individual. While there are celebrities who have created books, albums, and shows that I deeply love, there’s stark difference between the persona those celebrities have created and who they actually are when they’re not in the public eye. One of these things is easily knowable, but the one that really matters is not.
Grief is a personal, private matter. I’ve been lucky enough to have only needed to grieve over the death of a loved one a few times in my life so far. Grief isn’t something that can be condensed into a pithy gif or quote. It’s messy, lonesome, and painful. Often it feels like it will never end because there are so many small, daily reminders of that friend or family member who isn’t here any more. While I have empathy for the loved ones of anyone who dies, I have never felt lonesome for a celebrity. I’ve never wondered if a celebrity would still have the same love of sewing or skateboarding if they’d lived like I’ve wondered about people I actually knew and cared about.
Celebrity worship doesn’t make sense. I don’t care how much celebrities weigh, which diets they follow, who they’re dating, whether or not they have baby bumps, why they’re allegedly cheating on their spouse, or how much money they made on their last project. The idea of paying such close attention to the microscopic details of what a complete stranger does with his or her life isn’t something I understand at all. While I never wish anyone ill, I have no interest at all in becoming emotionally invested in the lives of famous people.
I save my love and my grief for the people I know personally. There is more than enough going on with them to keep me busy for a long time.