Take it Easy
I didn’t know David Bowie or Alan Rickman or, despite his ties to the valley, Glenn Frey.
Chances are, neither did you. Yet, over the past couple weeks, we’ve been mourning them as if we did.
It’s becoming a familiar pattern, actually: a smattering of posts on social media, some extra plays on the radio or television, and a host of articles explaining to everyone how much we lost. Now, if the same celebrity pops up twice in my news feed, I generally take a moment to check whether we lost them or it’s just their birthday.
There’s nothing wrong with this, per se.
Evidence of funeral rituals and mourning is one of the first thing archaeologists look for to indicate an emerging society. Actors and musicians and their ilk touch our lives in a very real way. Through art, we somehow get to know people we’ll never meet. If we’re honest, there’s also a sense of loss knowing we’ll never see them in concert or in a new film again. Finally, it’s a reminder that none of us — not even the rich and famous — can cheat death.
In two years as a breaking news reporter, it’s a lesson I got loud and clear. Indeed, there are several departed members of this community I regret not having known before their story crossed my desk.
You can’t really capture someone’s essence in print, but in some ways an obituary in a small paper comes closer than a feature in a major magazine.
It’s worth remembering that the real-life friends and family of these celebrities have lost someone close to them. It must be strange for them to watch media coverage that has little to say about who their loved ones were as human beings.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be sad. We have that luxury in a place where death is rare enough that we can spare grief for celebrities. Still, it would be nice to see some of that energy spent honoring scientists or locals or, imagine, the living!
Did you know Vera Lynn, “The Forces’ Sweetheart” in World War II, is still around? How about Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet who inspired the likes of Kerouac and Kesey? Heck, Christopher Plummer of “The Sound of Music” is not only alive, he’s still making movies. There’s also Kirk Douglas, Chuck Berry and, as John Palmer reportedly pointed out before his own passing, Keith Richards.
So, by all means, break out your old Eagles album and rewatch “Die Hard,” but spare a little approbation for those still able to appreciate it.
The bell tolls for Will Grandbois. He can be reached at 384-9105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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