Farrah-well Old Friends

The celebrity passings of this week have exposed the roots of another seachange in modern culture – that being in the way we pay our respects (or disrespects) to the stars we have lost.

Let’s face it… the days are long gone when Charlie Gibson or Bruce Paige (depending where you are from) could mournfully drop their voice a few octaves and inform us that “the world will be a different place” after the passing of a luminary that undoubtedly we will soon be told that “we all knew and loved”.  Never mind that few of us really knew any of them, and that we probably showed our “love” by making fun of how ungracefully they aged, or how much cellulite they had in those mid-summer shots from the Mediterranean. 

By the time the evening news intro clanged into effect on Thursday to let us know that we had lost both Farrah Fawcett and Wacko Jacko:

– random citizens of the online world had hours ago edited their Wikipedia entries to reflect their death. And not just added the date – I mean they had added details of where and how they died, and carefully and thoroughly edited the tense of every paragraph (e.g “Michael is a bit of a freakshow” became “Michael was a bit of a freakshow”);
– a few hours later (at least in Jacko’s case) 100s of email jokes marked the unofficial end of the mourning period and  both “green-lighted” the late night talk show hosts and in the same virtual breath also stole all their potential monologue material;
– millions of tweets and status updates proclaimed the deaths, questioned the truth of the deaths, denied the deaths, commented on them, and referred to their effect on those individuals;
– I was not by a TV, but the 24 hour news channels undoubtedly aired many of these tweets and comments as “unverified content” and “iReports from you, our viewers”.

And the very next day (as in less than 24 hours after the paramedics arrived at Neverland), I saw “Michael Jackson 1958-2009” tshirts were already for sale on the corner of 32nd and Broadway (and I am sure from other reputable streetside salesmen throughout New York).

Of course, we have to be cautious what we believe from the new online media – at the same time as these two losses, Jeff Goldblum fell from a cliff to a gruesome death while shooting a film in New Zealand.  Except, of course, for the fact that he didn’t… And he was not even IN New Zealand for that matter!!

Still, this story had been reported, checked, corrected and publicly commented on before Charlie Gibson even cleared his throat that night. And as usual, the New York Times hadn’t even turned on the lights in the printing facility before the whole thing was old news.

So if these kind of things do come in threes, maybe the third famous death this week was not Jeff Goldblum, but rather it was just the final nail in the coffin of network news and the big papers.

(Oh I nearly forgot) “…that we knew and loved. They will be missed.”

— Irish


One Response to “Farrah-well Old Friends”

  1. […] Have You Gone, Mr. Burgundy? Irish raises an important subject. I think he’s hit the nail on the head about the way people “deal” with celebrity […]

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