Bil Browning

Do You Mourn Celebrity Deaths? [Open Thread]

Filed By Bil Browning | May 26, 2012 12:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living
Tags: celebrity deaths, Donna Summer, public mourning, Robin Gibb, Whitney Houston

The recent spate of celebrity deaths has spawned a multi-day conversation between Jerame and me. I don't believe the grief is real; Jerame thinks I'm just hard-hearted.

I've watched in amazement as my Facebook feed, Twitter, and people on the street tell me how much Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, or Robin Gibb meant to them. They talk about the deep connections they had to the artist, bigstock-Religion-death-and-dolor--f-24592586.jpghow much their songs meant to the mourner, or generally do the internet age's version of weeping and gnashing your teeth on social media.

Seriously though, I'd guess that 99% of those shedding crocodile tears for dead celebrities have never met the deceased and never had any more insight into their actual lives than the public persona they presented to sell records. The actual person behind the facade is often quite different from the mask they don in public.

So I just don't get this public grief for dead celebrities. I mourn for people I know who pass on, but not for those I've only heard coming through my speakers or television. I don't understand how someone can "connect" with a celebrity who doesn't (or didn't, I suppose) even know you exist - especially enough to be upset by the artist's death.

I don't mourn for the person who was killed during a crime that happened across town when I don't know them and those tragedies are reported daily in every metropolitan area. I can feel bad for their untimely end, but I don't take to the public square to decry my sorrow. I save that for people I actually knew and loved.

So do you mourn celebrity deaths? If so, why? What could compel you to declare your sorrow so publicly and, for some of you, get so worked up over it that it affects your life?

(Funeral wreath photo via Bigstock)

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