Is It Tragic Only If People Know About It?

Thanks to the “news” provided to me by collective Facebook and Twitter statii, I learned that singer Amy Winehouse died recently (probably in the last day or so). I know that she’s the singer of that anti-rehab song and, judging from the status comments and replies, her death was a result of her little drug issue.

Which leads me to the so-called tragedy of this whole scenario. While several folk made fun of the irony of her death (As one friend humourously said: “Ima let you finish, Alanis, but Amy Winehouse had the most ironic song ever.”), others were more concerned about the tragic nature of this talented person popping. I don’t know Winehouse or any of her public issues save those that have filtered to me through the social grapevine. I wouldn’t recognise her in a lineup and, apart from the rehab song, I don’t even know what else she’s famous for, if anything.

So, for me, her death is just another casualty on the road of life, one of the many thousands that died in the last 48 hours.

Why then is her death singled out as tragic? Has she contributed anything more worthy than the other thousands that have died? Not really. It’s simply because her life and subsequent lack of it has been more widely publicised than say, the firefighter in Bangalore giving his life to save another.

It’s all about sensationalism. Nobody cares as much about people dying from disease, war, crime, or random accidents if those people haven’t been previously escalated to the public eye. And because of this face, tv stations, radio shows, websites, newspapers and magazines know that they’ll garna more sales. Thus perpetuating the sensationalism.

What does that say about us as a species? One arbitrary death in thousands is made significant only because it’s somebody of celebrity status who has given us nothing except entertainment. I’m certainly not undermining the value of the entertainment industry and those involved in it, but I am well aware that we are not saving the planet simply through the process of entertainment. Well, no more than any clown who gives you reason to feel good.

Winehouse’s death was certainly a tragedy, in the sense that every death is. However, allowing for my limited exposure of her and her work, however, I suspect in the months and years to come, she will not stand out as noteworthy in the annuls of significant humans to grace this planet with their presence. It is simply interesting to me the connection people have created with her through her exposure more so than contribution.