Celebrities and the public’s feelings towards them is a mixed bag of praise, adoration and worship with a good helping of judgment, scrutiny and laughs. We give them awards and our money, but at the same time make them the butt of our jokes. Without them, magazines and other news outlets wouldn’t have anything or anyone to write about.
Yet, they are a vital part of our culture. No, we won’t die if we don’t have them. But they are talking points at the water cooler, our idolized figures and sometimes our moral compass.
Every once and a while, either on a fateful Super bowl morning or a random day of the week, one of them sadly passes away. Whether by natural causes such as Harold Rami’s or drug-related as the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. If someone has even a little connection toward these celebrities, a little part of them passes as well.
A common occurrence is when celebrities overdose on hard narcotics which makes their sudden passing both shocking and sad at the same time.
What about the ones who don’t die? Time after time again we see celebrities who dive head first into the drug scene that Hollywood is always happy to oblige in the aiding in their vices. Our reaction, as a public, is often mixed depending on the reputation of the celebrity that, to me, is alarming.
In my estimates, there are three categories of celebrities who indulge and incite a different reaction from the public.
One being the kind where they make an ass out of themselves with their drug use. It’s a tabloid grabber and definitely an eye-roller. This is the Justin Bieber kind. Clearly he has trouble perceiving the consequences of his actions. And with a slap on the hand from a local judge he’s free to go without any repercussions. We just laugh.
The second is the kind where they undoubtedly have a serious problem. This is the Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan kind. Multiple admittances into rehab assure us that this isn’t something to kid around with. They became a butt of the joke and receive no help or sympathy. It’s such a weird and alarming dichotomy comparing “normal” citizens’ drug problems to someone’s like Lohan’s. Why is it that we give sympathy to, say, a friend’s relative who is in rehab for a narcotic, but we become self-made comedians when Lohan does the same? We should be learning from those transformation pictures rather than putting ourselves onto a self-righteous pedestal.
Finally, the third kind is where the drug abuse goes so far that they actually die from it. This would include the Philip Seymour Hoffmans or the Amy Winehouses. Of course we can’t take the humorous approach, it would be disrespectful of the dead. Yet we still hear the phrase, “too soon” way too much. It’s sad that we have to have a death to get serious about an issue that isn’t just plaguing public figures.
We are affected greatly by their passing, like Hoffman’s. Why? We are attached to an actor, actress, musician or artist who showed us something about ourselves. Even though we didn’t know them personally, although we act as if we do in our Facebook comments, we feel like we knew them through their art.
If anything should come from these tragedies it should be understanding. Since it’s on our headlines it should remind us that hard drugs is nothing to joke around about. These people need more attention than jokes made about them.
Is it the drug abusers fault for becoming a drug-addict? Maybe. But it is also society’s responsibility to help them out of it. Some addicts are too far down the road that they are basically hopeless to their own devices. We have to understand that for these addicts it is difficult and often embarrassing for them to reach out and ask for help.
A reaction to these types of death can solicit reactions such as, “Good. He was selfish and weak for even getting himself in that predicament.” But what does that tell us about ourselves. Do we think we are so invisible to pressures, temptations and vices?
Imagine if your problems were publicized to a massive audience. What if around every corner there was somebody ready to make a story out of your hardships? I wouldn’t like it either. It would be definitely embarrassing and unneeded.
Let’s just think twice before soliciting distasteful and easy laughs.