As I’m sure many of you know, soul singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment Saturday July 23. While her death was sudden and still unexplained, to many fans it seemed like the predictable ending to a lengthy, drawn out Shakespearean tragedy. Talented and young, the singer spent much of her music career living a life of addiction and a tumultuous relationship with ex-husband Blake Civil-Fielder.
I was never a fan of Winehouse, but certainly recognized her beautiful voice and the talent she possessed. This blog is more about the heartbreaking state of addiction, the media’s obsession with celebrity and the public’s addiction to the demise of famous musicians, artists and actors.
Stories about people like Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen are fodder for the media hungry masses. Paparazzi stalk these celebrities and often antagonize them in order to get the latest scoop. Their latest scandals are not only aired on fluff shows like Entertainment Tonight, but also shown with great frequency on reputable news networks such as CNN, MSNBC or Fox News.
This notion brings me to two important conclusions. First, the media is to blame. Second, we as media consumers are to blame.
News outlets are covering celebrity addiction with a rare glimpse into the real issues behind addiction. In recent years, mass media has experienced an explosion of sorts. Media outlets now have numerous of avenues to deliver news to the consumer. There are 24-hour news networks, Internet news sites, news apps for your mobile devices, etc., that allow us to receive information immediately. We are now connected more than ever to the news, which leads me to my second thought.
People are consuming media at a rapid rate thanks to the constant connectedness of the World Wide Web. It seems that we cannot get enough current events. Sadly, the most viewed stories aren’t about the talks to raise the debt ceiling or the hanging of an eight-year-old Afghan boy. Rather, events like the name of David and Victoria Beckham’s baby or the recent NFL lockout remain as top stories on websites.
It seems that we love to stories about celebrities slowly killing themselves with drugs and alcohol. We enjoy watching them slip slowly from reality as a form of entertainment. We make a mockery out of the real problem of addiction and mental illness. Am I the only one who is disturbed by this trend?
I know what addiction and mental illness can do to a person and their family. When I heard of Winehouse’s death, I thought, “Not surprising, but so sad.” I’m certain her family has similar feelings on her untimely death. After all, she had a mother and father who loved her, undoubtedly.
To the people who say, “It’s her fault. She’s the one who did drugs and couldn’t stop,” think about it again. What if this was your child, friend, parent or sibling? Addiction is a mother of an affliction. It takes love and support from surrounding friends and family to overcome. And of course, the addict plays the biggest role in the success of overcoming addiction.
So, I ask you all to take a second look at your media consumption. Ask yourself if you’re watching the lives of these celebrities unfold for the sake of entertainment or true concern. If your answer is entertainment, find a hobby.
Tell us how you feel in comments.