Is It Right to Mourn Celebrity Deaths?

by Renee Kray


 

While it is true that someone dies every day, it is not every day that the entire world takes notice.

High profile lives mean a high profile death, with the social world buzzing the moment that a famous person is announced to have died. The recent loss of Leonard Nimoy, an actor most famous for his portrayal of Spock on the original Star Trek television series, is a perfect example. When news of his death on February 27 was released, the response was immediate and it was everywhere. Signature character phrases such as “Live long and prosper” as well as photos of the late actor began trending on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Artists released memorial pieces, and articles summarizing Nimoy’s famous life began popping up across internet homepages.

16044964113_d850fc22a8_oThis response is hardly a unique one, as the world has seen the likes of it before. The sudden deaths of Michael Jackson in 2009 and Whitney Huston in 2012 provoked similar reactions of sorrow and remembrance. When Robin Williams took his own life in 2014 the world mourned and continues to do so, with images of his famous character, Genie from Aladdin, still appearing online along with memorial quotes.

But should the world really care as much as it does? For every celebrity that dies there are thousands of unknown people who are lost to poverty, starvation, and murder every day. In the middle east turmoil reigns supreme, with the terrorist group ISIS displacing, capturing, and murdering Christians as well as other religious and political groups. Disturbing photographs of beheadings are uploaded by ISIS almost constantly, and the New York Times reported in February that “the reports are like something out of a distant era of ancient conquests: entire villages emptied, with hundreds taken prisoner, others kept as slaves; the destruction of irreplaceable works of art; a tax on religious minorities, payable in gold.” A genocide is occurring, and yet the world is more distracted by the fact that Mr. Spock has been beamed up into the next realm than they are with the thousands of butchered people in the middle east.

So the question becomes, what is the appropriate response to this? As Christians, as informed individuals, but mostly as fellow human beings…what type of priority should we personally be placing on the events that are going on around us?

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There are two schools of thought that try to answer this question. The first is one that seeks to prioritize events according to how they affect the world. So basically, terrorism is important; the death of one celebrity, not so much. The response given by this first group of thinkers would therefore be that we should only care about the priorities and we should not care at all when we hear the news of celebrity’s passing because it is not important in the grand scheme of things. The title blogger of Raymmar.com wrote in his article “Robin Williams Dead: Why I Don’t Care and Neither Should You”: “If I had my way, no one would care whether…another comedian dies today or even tomorrow.”

It can certainly seem correct at an initial glance…shouldn’t we care more about the actual problems, the people who are dying for a real cause instead of a famous person who died rich? Of course we should; common sense demands it. To believe that the death of one individual with whom none of us had a personal friendship is on the same level as a mass genocide of humanity is madness. But that still doesn’t make the statement “I don’t care and neither should you” justified.

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Aren’t celebrities human, too? Clearly, the answer is yes. As fellow humans, we should feel the sadness of a loss of life, whether they were rich or poor. And it is undeniable that celebrities have major impacts on our individual lives. Spock was a favorite character to many fans, and that is why the death of Leonard Nimoy was such a universally mourned event. It doesn’t mean that the world stopped turning, or that ISIS lost importance by humans mourning for another human they admired.

This is the second school of thought, and the one which this author feels is the most applicable: balance. Yes, the death of one celebrity is not a priority, but is it wrong to mourn a loss just because worse things are happening? Of course not. If for no other reason than respect for the passing of another human being, we should not dismiss a death as unimportant and the right to mourn should not be denied to fans who felt that person’s influence in their lives. In February I myself remembered one of my favorite celebrities, New Zealand actor Kevin Smith, on the anniversary of his death. This didn’t mean that I forgot about the worldwide disasters, but I allowed myself to have respect and sorrow for both events.

In my opinion, the memory of a celebrity on the event of their deaths is not a bad thing. While we must remember that there are more important things going on in the world, there is no reason why we cannot honor a deceased celebrity and feel sorrow for the evils of the world at the same time. Priority places the important events foremost in our minds and concerns, but it doesn’t demand that we focus on those alone.


 

Photos by Loren Javier (Williams star), Laurl L. Russwurm (Nimoy poster),

2 comments on “Is It Right to Mourn Celebrity Deaths?
  1. Renee, perhaps the approach of mourning celebrities as either “right” or “wrong” creates a false dichotomy. Where is the value proposition?

    In other words — be they celebrities or not — what good has the person done for the world, their community, or their loved ones; what example have they set to inspire others?

    The truth of the matter is that mourning celebrities for the sake of their “cultural status” or because they made us chuckle once neglects to consider all the grave harm their films/ television shows contribute in the spiritual warfare that rages against the Christendom worldwide!

    Robin Williams allegedly committed suicide. Was there any mention of how grave a sin this was? No, instead, let’s all celebrate his role as “magical” jin (i.e. witchcraft,) another sinful and blasphemous form of idolatry.

    Leonard Nimoy? Like his “Start Trek” co-star, William Shatner, Nimoy was devout Zionist — an anti-Christian bigot and self-proclaimed “radical” of the 60’s era that used his television platform to further the liberal agenda in his time.

    Christian’s should certainly mourn the loss of human life, “whether they were rich or poor,” but Christian’s should certainly not be so foolhardy to forget the diabolical work of their enemies in their mourning!

    Since this is an Opinion’s piece, I’ll take the opportunity to say that I neither mourn nor regret the loss of anti-Christian bigots who have made careers pushing and peddling anti-Christian propaganda to corrupt a nation and its youth.

    Where you might see a “celebrity,” I see a ranked officer in the Ministty of Propaganda, a black wraith on dark horse, a minion in the army of darkness that conspires against Christ and His Holy Catholic Church.

    Catholics everywhere would do better to find a Missal and celebrate (not mourn) the Saint of that day, instead! Yes, celebrate the Saints, disregard the “celebrities” — that is the Catholic way!

    • Celebrate the saints, yes indeed! But do we not hope that everyone can become a saint? One never knows what may happen in a person’s last moments, and if they are as twisted as you believe, then they need our prayers more than ever. It is not correct for us to shovel someone’s life under the rug simply because they did not live out the full truths of Christianity as they should have. If God took that attitude with us, we would certainly all be in trouble. It is more appropriate to celebrate the good -however trivial- that someone did than to condemn them to a horrible judgement. God’s mercy is enough for even the most horrible black wraith. The Catholic Way is not to judge and condemn other individuals but to love them as being made in His image and likeness and to appreciate their innate value as such, and to hope for their salvation not their destruction.

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