Thinking about how we mourn artists we’ve never met. We don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.— Juliette (@ElusiveJ) January 11, 2016
Sometime the death of someone famous, a musician or a writer can have a deeply profound effect on us despite them never actually knowing or meeting them. This came up quite a lot in the death of David Bowie. It was the first thing I read when I switched on the internet that morning. The outpouring of love and adoration was non stop. I found myself taking it harder than I’d expected. I mean I’d always like his work, I had even been listening to the new album a few days before and couldn’t help but think he was trying to tell us something in a beautifully haunting way, now we know he was saying goodbye.
People remember artists for different reasons, for Bowie it was mainly that he was different and not afraid to be different, forever reinventing himself, his music, never seemingly afraid to push the boundaries. He made it okay for the rest of us to embrace our weirdness and that being different is okay. However, some people just don’t get and like to ride the waves of controversy just to get their five minutes of fame, I have no idea who Camilla Long is but telling people to stop crying over dead artists and to man the fuck up is probably not the right way to go about getting a readership. Also it turns out she’s a massive hypocrite after tweets surfaced of her crying over other celebrity deaths and really she probably just doesn’t like Bowie.
And then we were hit with a double whammy, Alan Rickman, also 69, also passed away from cancer on the Thursday undoubtedly one of the most talented actors around but because of Monday’s hoohaa people were slightly more reserved about their expressing their grief on line because they didn’t know them in person but I don’t think that matters. Someone was so bold as point out that at least two people die a second and no one cares about them which isn’t exactly fair. To be honest it’s not about not caring it’s about losing a connection. Some people worry that the friends that make on line but don’t interact with in real life aren’t real friends but I beg to differ, you’re still connecting with people, you’re still sharing something, they are still a part of your day, you will no doubt bring them up in conversation at some point or reference something they have messaged or tweeted you, just like you reference a song or a film quote.
The grief does not come from knowing that person, the grief comes from what they taught us about ourselves, for David he taught us it was okay to be who you are, sexually and artistically. Alan Rickman taught us that youth has nothing to do with breaking into Hollywood, that age is a number and you too can be 46 and star in your first film with Bruce Willis and become an icon too. Let’s face it we all loved Gruber more than Maclain!
The spate of deaths including Lemmy from Motorhead which to be honest kind of sideswiped me because I always thought of him as pretty much indestructible, Glen Frey from the Eagles, Natalie Cole, Dale Griffin and John Bradbury has remarkably felt like the grim reaper has a problem with musicians in their late 60s early 70s but even though we know no one is immune to death, it is okay to mourn people you never met because as artists, somehow, someway they helped us at one point in our lives whether it was a song that made you dance, a film that made you laugh or a poem that made you cry. I’m trying to find some way to wrap this up with a profound statement but at the end of the day twitter is full of bullies trying to bring the world down to their level, so mourn all you want, you don’t need anyone’s permission to do so!