Pop Culture Worship

Posted: February 12, 2012 in Child Welfare, Media, Social Media
Tags: , , , ,

Something I have never been able to wrap my mind around is the public swell of emotion when a famous person dies.  I particularly am unable to grasp the public empathy when they live a lifestyle of various personal abuses and act in a manner that if it were anyone we knew personally would not surprise us at all if we had found out they suddenly died as a result of said behavior.  I do not mean to diminish the sense of loss experienced by their family and close friends, it is expected and completely understandable they would go through that.  When you live a life in the public eye and allow you demons to be on display, why is it then the public in general is shocked and draw together in memorium when just a few days before they were so critical of the most recent display of dysfunction splashed across the tabloids?

There have been numerous musicians in my lifetime that have met a bitter end due to their inability to control their demons.  While still in diapers in a very short span the world lost Jimmy Hendrix, Janice Joplin, and Jim Morrison to some side effect of their drug and alcohol abuse.  Flash forward to the 1980’s and there were numerous musicians, actors and models who fell prey to the early days of the A.I.D.S epidemic.  In the 1990’s we saw Curt Cobain eat a shotgun as his final display of his inability to reconcile his fame, fortune, family and addictions.  In the last year alone there was the death of Amy Winehouse and just this weekend the death of Whitney Houston.  It is too early to tell what caused the death of Whitney Houston, but how much would you like to bet that in some way, shape, or form it will be attributed to the very demons she shared with her ex-husband Bobby Brown and put on public display both in the tabloids and their television show.

Americans both worship and vilify the cultural icons we put up on a pedestal.  They are fodder for the tabloids with their exploits no matter how personal they may be.  Somehow, we also manage to be surprised and saddened when those same actions lead to their death.  Michael Jackson is probably the most famous case of this.  All the debts he racked up while he was alive to help foster his eccentricities is now being paid off as he continues to make as much money in death as he did during life.  Somehow his true and deadly addictions managed to be kept out of public eye until after his death, we just got to witness the great talent he had alongside his completely eccentric and often disturbing life.

We witness famous people enter our popular culture and the vast tabloid battlefield each and every day.  Many are mourned and we speak of the loss for the world with their passing, yet each and everyday a child or children are killed in senseless acts of violence that could have been prevented.  They die through no fault of their own, victims of their genealogy or placement in an unforgiving system.  Their losses may make national headlines due to the heinousness of the crime which killed them, yet we as a country pay more attention to the trial of a doctor who in a display of unethical practice allowed someone who knew to be an addict self-medicate with a powerful anesthetic he prescribed him.  I wonder if the judge on that particular case would show the same level of loss and acrimony to the killers of Zahra Baker or Shaniya Davis.

The system each and every day fails children and more continue to die because among the first programs to get cut on state and federal budgets is social services.  Famous people undress to show their love of animals and protest cruelty towards them.  How about they keep their clothes on and dedicate some time and money towards protecting our youth or helping provide much needed services that would prevent them from becoming just another statistic.

Whitney Houston delivered one of the most memorable performances of our national anthem ever back in 1991.  The thing about that is, it was recorded and now will long outlast her.  There is a whole community out in Washington state that wonders how the system could have failed two little boys, burned to death along with their father, who allegedly could not live without them.  As they were snatched away from the social worker who was supposed to take them to a SUPERVISED visit with their father, a person of interest in the disappearance of their mother, the smell of fuel was evident from the front door as it was slammed in the social workers face.  This social worker called 911 and waited as the police responded to something else and the house became immolated by fire. Despite the pleas of the social worker to 911, her suspicions were not enough to raise the priority as there was a known emergency elsewhere at the time.

“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”

These words were sung by a woman with an amazing voice and a haunted personal life.  Many people watched her dysfunctional life play out on a weekly tv show and read with shock, awe, and morbid fascination her every foible in the weekly tabloids.  Even someone with a life such as hers can bring words to life with their voice, that is their gift.  I would like to think that in their passing they would rather see the world focus on the words they have sung and find the meaning in them rather than be placed upon a pedestal strictly for the gifts they were given.  Magic is all about illusion, in this case as in most, the magician is the public as we willingly fool ourselves into seeing only the bright spots and not recognizing the picture for what it is.  We pull the wool over our own eyes and draw our focus to our icons rather than aligning our empathy to those who truly need it.

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Comments
  1. “How about they keep their clothes on and dedicate some time and money towards protecting our youth or helping provide much needed services that would prevent them from becoming just another statistic.”

    Exactly…

    Make it about ‘them’ and not about ‘you’ and the potential publicity it can bring. Is it in ‘their’ best interest to publicize yourself? I think not. Most times, as you stated, time and money would be a good start.

    Great post.

    Like

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