Do celebrity deaths get too much attention?

Just recently we lost two legends: Benjamin Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post who played a crucial role in exposing the Pentagon Papers, and Oscar De La Renta in the fashion industry. I found out through CNN, but also could have easily logged on to one of my social media accounts to see all of my friends and family wishing them a peaceful rest.

Whenever a celebrity dies it is all anybody can talk about for at least a month. Facebook statuses, tweets and Instagram posts all about the tragic loss of one’s favorite actor, musician, etc.

Even though we don’t personally know a celebrity, they still impact our lives in some shape or form. Whether it is that movie that changed your outlook on life or that song that helped you get through a dark time, we have all been majorly affected by the roles that celebrities play.

“Technically we do not know [celebrities] and there is no way we can know them, but at the same time, you can have a relationship with them. You could have what you would call a pseudo relationship,” said Russell Stockard, a professor of communication at California Lutheran University.

I believe when a celebrity dies, the general public has the right to mourn the loss. It seems like every time a celebrity dies, I always have that one Facebook friend that says, “It’s not fair. What about all of the other people that die that don’t get any recognition?” or the one that shows someone’s true heart, “Who cares?”

“It’s certainly okay to memorialize them on social media. We do it with people we have actual relationships with and it represents some kind of closure in that relationship,” Stockard said. He said that he thinks it is a human tendency to do this because it is a way to move on.

Kevin Schultz, a senior communication department assistant thinks that it is perfectly okay to mourn a celebrity.

“It depends on the person. For Robin Williams, I think the attention [he] got was a little bit called for because no one on this planet can deny that he affected a lot of lives in a really good way so I think there should have been a little attention paid to that, and there was,” Schultz said.

He said that he also sees the other side, that sometimes it’s a bit too much, especially if the coverage lasts for too long.

“There’s definitely a limit where we should say let’s give the family its time. Let’s put this to rest. We can have their memory with us but this needs to stop,” Schultz said.

The sad truth is that people die everyday. If we don’t know a person, we can give our condolences but we don’t really have the right to mourn their loss. We don’t personally know a celebrity either (most of the time) but they are in the public’s eye 24/7 and we watch enough interviews with them on television that sometimes we feel like we know them.

My point is that there are too many deaths to recognize all of them. There are countless deaths that we don’t even know about because we don’t know every single person that lives on this planet.

Celebrities are regular people too with families and friends who love them very much.

Bradlee’s widow Sally Quinn was happy to see all of the people who loved him at his funeral.

“I didn’t want it to end because I knew when it ended, it would be over,” Quinn said, according to Washington Post. “I just wish I could sit there forever and just listen to music and people talking about Ben. I wanted to stay there forever.”

Famous people are often misunderstood by the public as people who only care about the money and the fame, which is the case sometimes. However most famous people are just like we are. They just get lucky enough to become really successful doing what they love.

It truly is sad how many people die everyday but it is just a part of life that nobody can control. We can mourn both the people we know and love and the celebrities we do not know. Nobody ever said we couldn’t do both.


Isabel Kirsch

Published November 5, 2014