2016 doesn’t have a monopoly on death. It may have more celebrity deaths than you’d like, but it’s been worse. Much worse. September 11, 2001. Don’t make me explain. 1986 – “Howard the Duck” was released (kidding). 1968 – MLK and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. The Tet Offensive was launched in Vietnam and footage of the campaign provided Americans with a new understanding of the war’s horror. Also, Richard Nixon was elected. 1963 – Alabama Governor George Wallace tries to stop the desegregation of this state’s schools. Medgar Evers, the head of the NAACP in Mississippi, is murdered. Four black girls are killed by white supremacists in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Alabama. On November 22, John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. 1945 – Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, killing over 250,000 people (you can debate how this saved lives by ending the war, but still, 250,000?). 1942 – The Holocaust spanned more than a single year, but ’42 was its deadliest. In total, 6 million Jews would die at the hands of the Nazis. 2016? You have 3 days to catch up!
People are whining on social media about the death of someone they never met, who had no influence other than to entertain them. Celebrities leave behind a treasure trove of media for you to watch on repeat. They never die, they just stop making new media for your consumption. Freddie Murcury died 25 years ago! I still have “A Day at the Races” and “A Night at the Opera” to keep his memory alive. Elvis and Michael Jackson’s estates make more money every year than the artists ever made during their lifetimes. Can a celebrity or musician have an influence on your life? Absolutely! You might fall in love with an actor and strive to become an actor, or at least gain some insight on how you can be more confident, or see yourself in an iconic character of theirs. You might hear a great guitarist and spend years learning to sound like them. Look at Jimi Hendrix – “Jimi is on a whole other level of playing. His live performances were largely improvisational and even the greatest guitarist ever, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend and Jimmy Page put their guitars down and admitted they weren’t even close to him when he jammed with them.” Curt Cobain dies? Foo Fighters is born. Eric Clapton’s son dies, and we end up with “Tears in Heaven.” Just listen to the opening guitar riff of “Pride and Joy” and don’t tell me you can’t say who that dead artist is! Influence from other artists, actors, and musicians, is what brings their art to a higher level than even they could achieve. Bet me one Jonathon Winters and I’ll raise you a Robin Williams. The only influential person who I believe exited at the peak of his profession, while all others who came after pale by comparison is Muhammed Ali. No one has ever been able to come close to “The Greatest.”
Just wait until someone you truly love dies. Only then will you see how trivial your whining is. I recently had a conversation with a friend who lost her mother 2 years ago. While sadness still pervades, she tells stories of her mother’s life with laughter and admiration. I’ve lost both parents and an older brother over a decade ago. Great friends of mine have lost loved ones to cancer, among other diseases, for years now. Don’t even start on my friends who have lost a child or friend to suicide. They don’t get to hit “play” on the DVD to remember. Memory, at least for me, comes in the form of dreams. I remember having long, deep, conversations with my dad, only to wake up alone in my bed profoundly saddend once again. All I have are memories of him – some good, many bad, but I’d be willing to trade your favorite movie star’s life for one more day with my dad.
And now I feel like I’m lecturing you. I don’t mean to. On December 28th, 2016, I’m just tired of hearing “This has been the worst year ever – make it end!”