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The death of icons, A Meandering Rant from TSF5

Posted on February 2, 2010 | By Christian | 1 Comment

Through history people have paid tribute to those who affected them most.  In the past it was high placed political powers such as monarchs or statesmen,  but since the advent of television this adoration has broadened to include celebrities.  The availability of electronic media provided a platform but tabloids and the internet brought it to extreme levels.

When Elvis died it was obviously a big story and deserved “news” coverage.  The same can be said for John Lennon, Michael Jackson, etc largely in part to their untimely deaths.  But where does the media draw the line as to what is worth “breaking news coverage”?  Are D list celebrities worthy of such coverage.  Do we need to know that a Reality TV contestant died?  Or a TV shill?  Where is the line drawn?  Do we need a cable station devoted to death much like the Weather Channel?

There is a morbid curiosity we all share whether we want to admit it or not.  We see it every day with the traffic jams caused by an accident.  So many people trying to get a glimpse of the victim.  Some of us from the corner of our eye and others shamelessly craning their necks.  Some read the obituaries to see who we may know who have died.  Others reading for the tragedy of someone taken too soon.  Is celebrity death that same morbid curiosity magnified?  Perhaps it’s because, while we somehow share celebrities and feel a strange attachment, though they really are detached.  We may feel some sense of loss, but certainly not as we would with a friend or family member.  Its different.  Its more akin to reading a book or watching a movie where the protagonist dies tragically at the end, or maybe goes out in flames while giving his middle finger to the establishment.  Or maybe its deeper than that and somehow through their loss we gain more appreciation of our lives?

Perhaps in death it’s that celebrities’ last bit of entertainment they are giving to the public.   Their last chance on the stage.  But even then, do we let them rest in peace?  With the family fights over recording or movie rights or new release of unseen footage.   The answer is sadly no.

The interest in celebrity death even goes so far as to have hoax’s emailed out with some elaborate story about how the celebrity died in some dramatic, often implausible, fashion.  How many celebrity (usually B list) death hoax’s went out around the same time as Michael Jacksons death was announced?  I guess we can thank the internet for that.  I don’t imagine that the same happened when Elvis died.  Although the closest thing at that time, the National Enquirer, did sell 8 million copies of an issue that featured a cover shot of Elvis Presley in a coffin.


One Response to “The death of icons, A Meandering Rant from TSF5”

  1. Christian
    June 10th, 2010 @ 10:41 am

    Here is an interesting article which expands on the idea of “death of icons” to include the recent passing of Gary Coleman and the alleged photo’s of him on his death bed.

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