Hello dear reader(s)!
I bet you can’t wait for 2016 to end, can you?
Neither can I, honestly. This hasn’t been my favorite year. But, this year was much, much better than some other years I have had. Of course, I am not an iconic celebrity or member of an iconic celebrity’s family, so, maybe I am a bit biased.
But let’s take a look at this objectively, shall we?
David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died of cancer. That really sucks. Alan Rickman, in particular is a bummer for me because I loved pretty much everything he did and he really seemed like a class act. David Bowie’s music was important to millions, and he was known for his charitable work as well. They were both 69. While that is a good decade off from the average lifespan, they still had cancer. David Bowie had reportedly previously survived 6 heart attacks. Not bad. Given that worldwide cancer deaths are over 8 million annually, it shouldn’t be surprising that two iconic figures lost their battle with it in their late sixties this year. Cancer fucking sucks, but it doesn’t suck more in 2106 than any other year.
Then there is Prince. Prince, the musical genius who wrote so many songs you probably don’t even know he had a hand in, in addition to the ones he performed himself. Prince, the tortured artist, known for his parties and wild ways. Sucks that he is gone. Of course, it really shouldn’t be surprising. It wasn’t even his partying that killed him, it was an attempt to kill pain, and the likely difficulty of doing so in a safe and legal way. Now, while I think that the term “epidemic” is a little far-fetched here, still there were roughly 15,000 deaths due to prescription overdose in the US in 2015, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that someone famous would fall victim. After all, Michael Jackson also died trying to control his pain (or at least rest in spite of it) back in 2009.
Many other celebrities died this year. I’m not going to list them all.
But Carrie Fisher. That one really saddened me. Of course it is also sad that her mother died of a stroke right afterward, but she was 84. Carrie Fisher’s death upset me, not just because she was a favorite character, but because she was pretty bad-ass in real life. Her advocacy for the mentally ill, and her critique of all the fanboys who were upset that she was not as attractive at her age as she was in their wet-dream fantasy slave-girl outfit was downright awesome.
But even with her, it really isn’t so shocking if you really think about it. She died of cardiac arrest. In the US alone, roughly 610,000 people die of heart disease every year. It is the leading cause of death among both men and women. When you consider that she was a self-admitted addict, who attempted to self-medicate her bipolar disorder with cocaine, it shouldn’t be too shocking that it may have caught up with her earlier than we all would have liked.
George Michael also died of heart failure. There are also reports of him also having a possible drug addiction, and he has admitted to using on occasion. Did that contribute? It doesn’t really matter. Heart disease, like cancer, doesn’t always depend on lifestyle. It kills a lot of people.
While the world was weeping over lost celebrities, we were handing our governments to fascists. While people were obsessed with the lives of stars and mourning their loss, many people were mourning much more personal tragedy. Sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends and acquaintances died, leaving a huge hole in people’s hearts.
The UN estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian Civil War since 2011. Where are the internet memes about how awful these years have been because they were needlessly killed? But they’re not famous, and they’re not white, right?
Look, it sucks to lose your heroes. I get it. Like I said, I was saddened over a few of these deaths myself. But to treat this year like some kind of curse because the celebrities from the golden age of celebrity reached a vulnerable age or had other issues does a disservice to the genuine and very real preventable losses that people endure all of the time. It does a disservice to all of those who were more personally affected by loss this year, preventable or not.
Your childhood is not lost. You have memories. You have the films or music that these artists made. They continue to live on. Don’t let the sadness you feel that they are no longer making great art distract you from what is really happening in the world.
The biggest problem with 2016 isn’t that all of these icons died, it is that it seems to be the only thing people actually care about. It isn’t celebrity deaths, it is the celebrity worship in and of itself. Celebrity worship that allowed a reality show star to win the Presidency.
If your 2016 sucked for other reasons, you have my deepest and genuine sympathies. My own 2016 was not nearly as great as I was hoping it would be at the end of last year. I made a few mistakes, I had a few false-starts on rebuilding some sort of life. I have had a lot of frustrations.
But I also made some strides. I accomplished a few things. I survived…so far. It’s not quite over. And I got to know people who I sincerely hope remain in my life or become closer as we move into 2017. It sure as hell beat 2015.
If you were personally affected by loss this year, my heart is with you.
May 2017 be a better year for us all, celebrities and non-celebrities alike.
Featured Image By Dan Bennett from Seattle, USA (DSC_2046 Uploaded by X-Weinzar) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons