Post Classifieds

Fallen Stars

By Grace Dawson
On September 20, 2018

There’s a memory gathering dust at the back of my brain. I recall walking into my fourth-grade classroom on an excruciatingly hot day in late June (to make up for a ridiculous amount of snow). What has remained stuck in my mind after nine years is that this was the day that we – not just Mrs. Adams’ fourth-grade class, but people around the world – found out that Michael Jackson had died. We were at the age where the reality of life was setting in, so several classmates didn’t hesitate to mention that his death was of an overdose. Did we know what that meant? If we did, did we know the gravity of it? Even if we didn’t, we’d seen enough of our parents’ reactions to know that it was a grave day and that American culture, if not global culture, had lost an entertainment icon. 

Since that day, of course, many more public figures have passed on, leaving all different sorts of legacies in their wake and leaving the public to come to terms with the loss of someone we may have even considered as close as a friend. Part of the world often goes into shock, trying to pro-cess the fact that someone who lived their life so publicly has now left it.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. John McCain, veteran and political figure. Anthony Bourdain, chef and author. Kate Spade, designer and fashion icon. Stephen Hawking, pioneering scientist and brilliant mind. How can we process the death of a celebrity? In the past few months alone, we’ve lost enough people who lived out some or most of their lives in the public eye that it has almost come to be expected. Actors, musicians, political leaders, activists – humans – all become subjects of interest tosome and role models to others and influence the way the public lives our lives. Celebrity deaths evoke not just the sadness, anger, and loss of closer and more personal deaths, but also the feeling that even a life with plenty of acknowledgement, credits, and wealth can end. We respond with memorials, gatherings, vigils, and, in the past few years, Tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram updates. News outlets cover the topic with somberfaces and voices, and public figures continue to be celebrated long after they’re gone.

The manner of a death also strongly influences our reaction. Death from old age, often occurring peacefully in sleep, is reason enough to mourn the loss of a role model. Overdoses, suicides, and murders, however, often elicit more of a publicresponse. We may even find ourselves thinking that if we had just written a note or a tweet or made just one more fan video that the person might have stayed, just as if we were as close to them as our friends are to us.

Most recently, for example, the death of rapper and Pittsburgh native Mac Miller, who spoke openly about his struggles with substance abuse before his alleged death by overdose, brought on a flurry of posts on social media both mourning his loss and calling for the treatment of addiction and substance abuse. Fans gathered in Frick Park (also known as Blue Slide Park, after which one of his albums was named) for a memorial, sharing the loss with his grandmother.

Humans sometimes tend to think that only themselves or their immediate community, whether that be a group of friends with similar interests or a national fanbase, havebeen a ected by the loss of a publicfigure; the global fanbase is oftenequally affected. Physical distance from someone we admire does not mean emotional distance; and again, we tend to think that if we could have just gotten closer to them to protect them from whatever forces caused their death, they’d still be here. Figures like Denis Ten, a gureskater who was murdered in his home country of Kazakhstan, and Jonghyun Kim, a South Korean singer-songwriter of the band SHINee who committed suicide after a long struggle with mental health, were mourned by not just their countries, but by the larger communities of which they were acelebrated part (the International Skating Union released a statement on Ten’s death), as well as their fanbases around the world making gestures of mass mourning (Kim’s fanbase donned ribbons, buttons, and other memorabilia with the band’s color for the concert that closely followed the singer’s death).

Every single person faces death. We each deal with death in our own way, from memorabilia to written tributes to simply gathering to honor the memory of the departed that we admire. Death unites fans with family, personal with public. Death crosses the lines we separate ourselves with, never discriminating.


Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

More theclockonline News Articles

Recent theclockonline News Articles

Discuss This Article




Plymouth State produces top LASIK New York doctors that specialize in lasik and laser refractive eye surgery.


Log In

or Create an account

Employers & Housing Providers

Employers can list job opportunities for students

Post a Job

Housing Providers can list available housing

Post Housing

Log In

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

Please Select Your College/University:

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format