Are you affected by celebrity deaths? Why or why not?

Over in the Game Room, and throughout the media, folk are expressing their dismay over Kobe Bryant’s recent death.

As is often the case in such situations, I wonder at the display of emotion. I am certainly open to criticism that I lack sufficient compassion, humanity, etc. But would people be willing to explain why they are personally upset when a celebrity dies? NOTE: I’m not criticizing anyone’s reaction, or suggesting they ought to react differently. I honestly do not understand.

I guess I could imagine it somewhat if a performer were at the height of their productive life, such that fans would regret the absence of future performance. But with someone who has retired or is well past their prime?

I understand that such a death can raise feelings of nostalgia, remembering the times one derived pleasure from the performer’s efforts. But why would anyone care anything more about an athlete or artist’s death, as opposed to the countless people who die every day, and who did not enjoy a fraction of the pleasure a wealthy, successful performer may have?

But we do care about one of those “countless people who die every day” when it’s someone we know reasonably well.

And the thing about celebrities is that, depending on one’s definition of “know,” they are people we know, or people we have the illusion of knowing.

Similarly, people have emotional reactions when a celebrity gets caught doing something Bad (or something Good), and it affects people’s ability to appreciate that celebrity’s professional work.

Plus, there’s a bit of memento mori: it’s a bit of a shock when someone who seemed so alive now isn’t, and it brings home the fact that death can strike any of us at any time.

At 58 I’ve seen too many to be too put out by any one in particular.
It sucks when someone goes young but we all gotta go sometime.
The only ones who get me a bit are ones that should have been able to go on producing something I found to be of great value. So Jim Henson, Sir Terry, they pissed me off a bit.

Not really, the only exceptions were Robin Williams and Michelle Mcnamara.

Robin Williams just because his death was so unfair. He had dementia and he would’ve been dead by now anyway (I think life expectancy for lewy body is only a few years after symptoms, so he would’ve died by now anyway). But for someone who gave the world so much to have to kill himself in the guest bathroom felt unfair.

For Michelle McNamara, it was because I enjoy her husband Patton Oswalts work and knew they had a young daughter together. And Oswalt was suicidally depressed even when his wife was alive, so I figured it’d be pretty hard for him after.

I didn’t really get grief over celebrity deaths until Prince and David Bowie passed away (and to a lesser extent Michael Jackson). Their deaths didn’t hit me so hard that I had to take to bed, but they did upset me. No, I didn’t know everything about them, but I loved the parts that I did know about them. Having just a little love for someone or something is enough to make you feel a sense of lost when it/they is gone.

I did gasp when Kobe’s death was announced. I am not a fan of his, but he is a big enough celebrity for me to recognize him instantly. And we are also close in age. So his death hits me the same way the death of all old classmate hits me. “Hey, this guy that I kinda know, who is around my age, is dead! If he can die, so can I!” It makes no sense, but no emotion ever does.

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I guess that makes SOME sense. Of course, I’ve never quite understood most popular interest in celebrities.

My thought re: Kobe was more along the lines of, “Well, he had a pretty decent run of it. Would I prefer 40 years of youth, wealth and fame, if that meant dying young? As opposed to 70-80 years of toil and mediocrity?”

Especially when a death results from an “unforced error.” Whatever my personal risk factors and choices, I don’t have to worry about whether my personal helicopter is ferrying me around locally in less than optimal flying conditions! :rolleyes:

Things like that never bothered me till Dale Earnhardt died. I had watched him and his exploits for years. Other race car drivers that died before him didn’t really affect me as much, they didn’t have a body of work like Earnhardt.

I think the death of Kobe Bryant’s daughter affected me more that his death. She was a just a kid that had a potentially brilliant future ahead of her.

The death of Elvis Presley was just a blip on my screen, he died the day before my son was born. It hit me years later when I was 43 and read something that said he died at 42. For some reason it made my mortality a lot more real.

Yeah, and two of her young teammates, too. Three young lives snuffed out. Bryant gave of himself off the basketball court, helping to shape the lives of the next generation. It’s his contributions after his retirement that will be missed most of all.

Meh. There are relatively few celebrities I actually care about, and when those die, I am mostly reacting selfishly because they will no longer produce entertainment for me by doing whatever they did before they died.

I was upset for about ten minutes when Ursula LeGuin died, because I read The Dispossessed and Left Hand of Darkness. I was upset when Jeff Everson died, because I liked his Planet Muscle magazine. Neither of those were mega-celebrities and both were not young.

I don’t do the Death Pool in 2020, so most celebrity deaths I watch for tasteless wisecracks at worst, and at best mild sympathy for families who never heard of me and never will.

John Donne was mostly wrong, IOW. In the Internet age, I can be connected to so many people, but so superficially, that it doesn’t diminish me all that much.


Nah. I don’t know any of these people.

Someday, someone famous that I have actually met, of which there are a few, will die and I will see how I feel about it then.

I don’t get it. All this wailing over someone most people have never met. It must be the “celebrity culture”. Maybe folks with no one in their lives to feel any emotional connection to, latch on to celebrities to vent those feelings. Is it like the old days when lonely people kept celebrity scrapbooks?

It’s doubly offensive when the 8 people that also died at the same time get forgotten, or at best lumped in as “other”. How many of those out there who are falling all over themselves to get all the misery right doing so for 9 people, or just the one?

Not really no. I certainly would never consider any sadness I feel for the death of a celebrity as “grief”. That would be far too extreme. The hysteria over the death of Diana was deeply weird to me.

I think the degree to which I feel anything is unsurprisingly dependent on how much I like what they do and how much I know about them. So Prince was very sad, Kobe Bryant however was not a major figure in my life, I knew the name but not the face and it was more related to the rape allegations than any real attachment to his career so it was a surprise and no more. I feel no more sadness for his family than I would for any other random person that I didn’t really know, i.e. some…but not much.

Not really, but I’m also young enough that most of the celebrities I feel for are also on the younger side. I did feel pretty sad about Stan Lee though, and Carrie Fisher. I didn’t cry over either of them, but I thought about them a lot in the coming days. Particularly Stan Lee.

And Grumpy Cat.

I don’t think that’s really fair. I don’t get hugely drawn to celebrities (although I did feel some pain over Stan Lee’s death), but I totally get people seeing a celebrity as someone they hugely look up to. It hardly means they were deprived of love from their own friends or family. Seeing a celebrity you really connected to, learned from or were inspired by die can be just as painful as losing a mentor or beloved pet.

Carrie Fisher struggled with drugs and, I believe, an eating disorder. There were a lot of people who found her struggle inspiring and looked up to her. Just because they never met her doesn’t mean they’re wrong to grieve for her passing.

That’s usually what I feel, combined with a related thought that a lot of the celebrities who are dying these days couldn’t be that old, and then realizing that they weren’t, when my conception of them congealed in 1988 when I was 16, but that 31 years have passed since then. Or worse, realizing that they were that young, and that we really don’t know when our number’s going to be up.

I don’t get terribly shook up. Generally, if it’s a younger celeb I’ll think “son of a gun! How about that!”. In Kobe’s case I’m more interested in the cause of the crash than the accomplishments and virtues of the deceased.

There are two things about celebrity deaths that I dread. The first is the recreational grief, the leaving of flowers and mementos in some makeshift shrine, the elevation of the deceased to sainthood. The second thing that invariably follows are the Facebook posts that will come saying “WAAAAAH! Everybody loses their shit when a celeb dies but we don’t mention (insert soldier’s name here) who died LAST WEEK (it turns out, actually 8years ago) for your freedom!”

That exact sequence played out on my company’s internal message board - someone posted about Kobe, then someone else posted about a soldier who died in a car crash last week. As if the loss of one somehow cheapened the loss of the other.

Celebrity deaths don’t move me much - the one exception being Terry Pratchett, which put me in a depressed funk for several days. But I felt a stab of sorrow when I read that Kobe’s daughter Gianna was only 13. It hits a little harder when it’s a child.

I think the only ones that caused me anything like strong emotion were Jimi Hendrix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

When Hendrix died I was 16, a guitar-player, and a Hendrix fanatic. I felt a deep, selfish sense of all of the new music I would never get to hear.

I usually don’t think much about actors, but Hoffman found a way to touch me in everything I saw him do. I guess the emotion I felt when he died was similar to the selfish thing I felt about Hendrix.

Rarely. Grief is strange, you just never know what will hit you. Phil Hartman, Prince, and Chris Cornell affected me most.

I’m not usually as deeply affected or moved by celebrity deaths as some people are, even those which are particularly tragic.

The two which I recall actually making me feel sad were Freddie Mercury and Carrie Fisher:

  1. Mercury was the singer for one of my favorite bands, and he died young. It wasn’t particularly surprising, however – he’d clearly been very ill for a couple of years, though he only publicly acknowledged that he was suffering from AIDS the day before his death.

  2. Fisher was one of the stars of my favorite set of movies, and one of my first celebrity crushes, too. In her last few years, I’d come to really enjoy her acerbic wit, her takes on life as a celebrity, and the way that she talked about her struggles. Her death was sudden and unexpected, however.

The only other celebrity I can think of whose eventual death will, I imagine, hit me hard, will be Jeff Lynne. Along with Queen, his Electric Light Orchestra has been my favorite band since I was in high school, and his music has been a big part of my life.