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October 21, 2015 9:58 pm  #1


When a beloved celebrity dies

Yes, this theme is rather morbid. But something I also find rather interesting.

Celebrities die all the time, of course, as do all people. Some we hardly know of, some we have grown up with and feel a sting when we learn the news, maybe even shed a tear, and then it's forgotten. As it should be. We don't know these people, when it comes down to it.

However, sometimes, a celeb death might you harder than others. For me, it was Patrick Swayze. I knew about him through most of my life, but it wasn't until I became a teenager that I really got aware of him. He was my first proper celeb crush, and I can't count the number of times I've watched North and South and Dirty Dancing.

As years flew by, I grew up, but I will still fond of him, although he wasn't in the forefront of my mind anymore. Naturally.

And then I learn he had cancer. And died 1,5 years later. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Here was this wonderful, old-school Southern gentleman that I grew up with, withering away from cancer. It was horrible. And, interestingly enough, when his widow (who had been married to him for way more than 20 years) got engaged to someone else four years after his death, I was even more devastated. How could she?! They got married when I was still a child, I grew up with their loving marriage, one of the few marriages that really lasted in the world of Hollywood - and only four years after his death, she is of with someone else?!

Of course it isn't rational. I don't know her, she can do whatever she want. But I was very intrigued by my emotions. How hard both is death hit me and how her "betrayal" hit me. How I could feel like this for people I never knew.

Have you guys ever felt anything like that for a celeb?
 


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October 21, 2015 10:45 pm  #2


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

No, not really. But I think that's mainly because I don't develop serious "crushes" for celebrities. Never really have. But still, I adore people for their works... like Terry Pratchett... yes, I feel proper sadness then. Not like a shock, but deep sadness that they are gone. It's not like a personal shock, but a deep regret somebody who gave so much to so many people is no more with us.

I suppose it's because we choose some people as role models. Like you mention with the happy marriage. We look up to people, especially when we are young, for guidance, we are impressed and fascinated.
I still remember when Kurt Cobain died, not because I was a big fan, but because people went so crazy about his death. I didn't quite get it back then, I was only about 8 or 9 years old, but I understood something very important was taken from them.
Same happend when Lady Di died. I remember watching her funeral on TV. All those people on the streets... I remember how my Mum went on holidays to London on the weekend of Dianas funeral. She told me the whole city was absolutely quiet and people were crying on the streets. I know I didn't quite understand it - why would people cry when they didn't know her in person.

I do think it is an interesting topic. But for me personally, I only know strong reactions like that for people I knew in person.
But I can understand it. Also the feeling of betrayal. I think if we get very attached to a person, even if we don't know him/her in person, we want only the best for them. Want to keep them save, want them to only have the good things in life. I think love is an accurate term, even if it's an one-sided love, a love that's irrational. But the feelings we experience, they are what counts, and I'd say, to feel betrayal because of a new marriage, that's just an expression of how much we wanted the person we adore to be the one and only to everyone, forever.
But if we look at it rational, we might judge differently. Because then we see the real life happening and can say: yes, after four years, it is okay to move on. It doesn't mean somebody didn't grieve. But feelings aren't logical, and that's perfectly okay.

I wonder why our feelings are sometimes all over the place, even if logic suggests otherwise. I think we often underestimate the influence of our own hopes, wishes, even experiences...


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October 21, 2015 11:04 pm  #3


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

Good thoughts, Whisky. I especially find it interesting what you say about you not having any celeb crushes. Which, I believe, would go for the majority of the population. 

I remember when Kut Cobain died. I had friends who were seriously devastated. Their world had fallen apart, they walked home from school crying their eyes out. I was never a Nirvana fan, so his death didn't mean much to me either way. But I had no trouble understanding the feelings behind it.

I guess in that way we can put people into two categories - those who feel that way towards celebs, and those who don't. I am most certainly in the first category.

But even if Ben is now my biggest celeb crush, and even I would certainly cry my eyes out if he had died now, I don't think I would feel the way I did with Patrick Swayze. I think, at least for me, it's something different with those who you follow in your younger years.


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October 21, 2015 11:35 pm  #4


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

I guess that's not only true for you.
I think that as young people, we maybe have stronger crushes, so naturally it affects us more. I think that makes sense.

Not sure about the majority not having celeb crushes though. I know many that have. I felt like the minority till now, actually http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png

 


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October 22, 2015 12:47 am  #5


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

I never had any celebrity crushes, but I have been saddened by the loss of certain famous figures I considered personal "heroes".

It was during my "outspoken atheist" phase that Christopher Hitchens died. I do not recall shedding any tears, but I was definitely depressed when I heard the news.

I've been a Bee Gees fan for over twenty years - I was saddened when Maurice Gibb died, and again later when Robin (my favorite of the group) died.

I don't think it's that unusual to feel a personal loss when a celebrity that you love and respect dies. Despite being a "one way street" (i.e. you know them well though they don't know you at all), it is still the loss of someone important in your life - someone who has helped shape your outlook, who influenced you, to whom you connected to emotionally.

As humans, we are bound by our own narrow perspective, and anyone who helped shape this (whether known personally, or through their actions as well-known figures) has a special place in our minds. Therefore, it is not unusual to be saddened by their loss - more so with the greater effect they had on our point of view.

My point is: Even though you never "knew them" personally, you did know them to some extent - they played an important role in your mind. Perhaps the fact that you did not know them personally is balanced against the knowledge that their passing has effected so many other people (who are strangers to you) in such a similar way.

Whisky wrote:

I wonder why our feelings are sometimes all over the place, even if logic suggests otherwise. I think we often underestimate the influence of our own hopes, wishes, even experiences...

Though humans have the capacity for rational thinking, it is still a "new" concept to us, relatively speaking ("more beast than deity", as it were). We are still largely controlled by irrationality - emotion, blind faith, frustration, angst, bias, prejudice, jealousy, cognitive dissonance. Logical thinking is a beautiful thing - but sometimes, it's like riding a unicycle while balancing spinning plates. It's easier when our minds are clear, but oh so much more difficult when it really matters.


 

 

October 22, 2015 1:29 am  #6


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

While I was never one to cry a lot when someone famous died, it can give me pause and make me feel a little sad.  If it's someone famous who died because they were old, the it's not as unfortunate or tragic and someone who commits suicide or dies from some other means.

I don't really develop crushes on celebrities (or really anyone).  I will make connections based on other things, and if they have good looks I wouldn't necessarily call that a crush, just that I like looking at them.  Perhaps it's aesthetic attraction, I don't know, but it's certainly not sexual.  More like a desire to know the person, be friends with them.
And the connection that you, or at least I, feel with a famous person comes from watching their performances or reading their work and reading or watching interviews.  What is seen is something admirable or inspiring, and it becomes part of your entertainment or part of how you think about things in a big or small way.  The person becomes a presence even if it's not necessarily an intimate presence or a mutual presence of course.
Just this summer when Robin Williams commited suicide, while I didn't cry I was still quite effective and I was saddened by the fact that someone who could bring such joy to people could be so unhappy inside.  I didn't cry when the news broke, but seeing peoples' tributes to him online did a little bit.
On the flip side, Michael Jackson's death was a surprise that I didn't really feel much reaction to because of the way it was treated in the media and the circumstances surrounding it.  It happened on the last day of school that year and I heard it first from a cashier when I was at Walmart with my mum.  The cashier was looking at her phone and said to another cashier "Michael Jackson died." I thought it was a prank or a joke or something.  Michael Jackson couldn't be dead.  But then the TV that night confirmed that it really was true.

You bring up the example of if Benedict died.  I don't know whether I would cry, but I would definitely see it as tragic, not only because it would mean his child wouldn't remember the time spent with him or that Sophie and other members of his family would be grieving, but because we would no longer get to see any other performances from him.  It would be a great loss of talent.  While he is a fair bit older than 27, it could perhaps be compared to the death of Buddy Holly.  It seems to me like his career is building and he keeps giving better and better performances.  To see that suddenly stop would be tagic.


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October 22, 2015 5:54 am  #7


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

I still cry at the loss of my beloved Christopher Hitchens.


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October 22, 2015 7:42 am  #8


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

Well, I hope he's in heaven now 


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October 22, 2015 2:03 pm  #9


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

Harriet wrote:

Well, I hope he's in heaven now

lol!  Brilliant!

 

October 22, 2015 4:04 pm  #10


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

God he'd be SO disappointed!


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October 25, 2015 7:33 am  #11


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

Magingus wrote:

I don't think it's that unusual to feel a personal loss when a celebrity that you love and respect dies. Despite being a "one way street" (i.e. you know them well though they don't know you at all), it is still the loss of someone important in your life - someone who has helped shape your outlook, who influenced you, to whom you connected to emotionally.

As humans, we are bound by our own narrow perspective, and anyone who helped shape this (whether known personally, or through their actions as well-known figures) has a special place in our minds. Therefore, it is not unusual to be saddened by their loss - more so with the greater effect they had on our point of view. 

Very nicely put, Magingus.. I think it is easy to form strong emotional connections if a person seems to embody things very important and close to your heart, even if you never met them. Fortunately for me those people are all still alive, in my youth it probably would have affected me badly. But I still remember vividly how crushed some people had been over Lady Di´s death, as this example has been brought up.. it puzzled me back then. But now I have no difficulties understanding how much a sudden and premature death of a person you admired (and to a certain degree identified with) affects you. It´s not just the person that dies, but also the things they stood for and might have brought into this world.. which indeed can be a very real personal loss.



Magingus wrote:

Whisky wrote:

I wonder why our feelings are sometimes all over the place, even if logic suggests otherwise. I think we often underestimate the influence of our own hopes, wishes, even experiences...

Though humans have the capacity for rational thinking, it is still a "new" concept to us, relatively speaking ("more beast than deity", as it were). We are still largely controlled by irrationality - emotion, blind faith, frustration, angst, bias, prejudice, jealousy, cognitive dissonance. Logical thinking is a beautiful thing - but sometimes, it's like riding a unicycle while balancing spinning plates. It's easier when our minds are clear, but oh so much more difficult when it really matters. 

Signed..  Logical thought is difficult enough under normal circumstances, but as soon as it gets personal the older parts of our nervous systems tend to take over. I´m really fascinated by this area of neuroscience, which suggests that human rationality is commonly overestimated. 

 

October 25, 2015 8:37 am  #12


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

See I don't think it is:
We have all kinds of relationships in our lives, we have many complex feelings and we can be attracted to people for any number of causes.
I never actually met Christopher, though I took my daughter to hear him speak.
I have read his books and these days we have the bliss of being able to watch endless, extensive Youtube footage...
So we feel we know these individuals.
Sometimes, depending who they are, we do know them to a certain extent and as long as we keep that in proportion and as long as we make a fair assessment of them and the situation:
I admired Christopher for his phenomenal brain, wit, speaking and writing abilities. 
I respected his no-nonsense, honest, no-bullshit, saying it like it is attitude.(Can't imagine where I've got it from!)
I applauded his standing up for the underdog and his endless pursuit of universal human rights.
His love of his family, loyalty to his friends etc...
The bravery he showed throughout his long and horrible death,his total lack of rancour, commitment to his family and both industry and humour to the end.
I accept that had we actually met, he may have taken an instant dislike to me or at least not taken me very seriously. But at the end of the day, we'll never know.
None of that distracts form who or what he actually was and indeed what he stood for.
The point is, he helped me grow so much as a person
I see all of the above as being totally rational.

Last edited by besleybean (October 25, 2015 8:38 am)


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October 25, 2015 10:23 am  #13


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

I agree it is.. Like I wrote in my first paragraph, those are rational feelings.

The second paragraph is generally speaking about the difficulty to remain rational in times of strong emotional involvement..

 

October 25, 2015 10:59 am  #14


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

I'm not saying it's easy, but I think we can train ourselves to do it.
The other thing is: but we don't always have to!
It's perfectly alright to show emotion and honestly whatever helps you get through...go with it.
As long as grief, or any kind of emotion really, doesn't become destructive.
When you get into blame games, projecting your own feelings, acting out of guilt or sheer frustration...
Whenever any of us are struggling, if we cannot manage it ourselves, we may need somebody around to support us, just be a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board.
Periods of grief are normal and acceptable, as long as they do not take over the rest of your life and shut out those around you.


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October 25, 2015 3:56 pm  #15


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

Oh dear, I never grieved a celebrity so much as I grieved the Hitch! 

 

October 25, 2015 4:14 pm  #16


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

Oh my dear, you have made my day, so I will share a little story with you:
I was recently very fortunate to meet Richard Dawkins again(I've met him quite a few times now).
Afterwards when he was signing my book, I said to him: thank you for all of the nice things you said about Christopher, he really was taken from us far too soon.
Richard gazed up at me with a faraway look in his eyes and replied: yes, he was, wasn't he?
I nearly burst into tears all over again!


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October 25, 2015 7:10 pm  #17


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

That must have been a very special moment. 

And OMG, you met Richard Dawkins!!! ;)

But Hitch has been a lot in my mind too, I always wondered how I could be a bit more like him. Not that that's possible, but you know. One of the things he said what always stuck with me is that one should never have heroes. I believe he's right. Weirdly, a very similar line once showed up in a Sherlock episode, no idea whether that's coincidence or not. 

 

October 25, 2015 7:16 pm  #18


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

I wouldn't be surprised if Christopher was a Doyle fan, he was an avid reader.


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October 25, 2015 7:39 pm  #19


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

I'd be very surprised if he hadn't read them. It's not a line from Doyle, though, as far as I'm aware. Christopher took it from someone else, whose name I've forgotten now. 

I was more thinking the other way around, that maybe one of our writers got that line from Christopher and thought it might be good. Given the world we live in, that's not exactly impossible. On the other hand, it's not impossible for different people to have the same idea independently. 

I somehow really love the idea that modern, civillised ladies and gentlemen should never ever worship another human being. 

 

October 25, 2015 7:43 pm  #20


Re: When a beloved celebrity dies

I also think Christopher had no self-delusions!


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