A recent Letter to the Editor in my local paper opined that we the people were partially responsible for the untimely death of Amy Winehouse, and that perhaps by using the Internet and social media as forces of good we could have saved her life.
I was a casual fan. I liked her singing voice, but didn’t really follow her all that closely. What I was aware of was that—like so many celebrities—she seemed to have a problem with drugs, alcohol and harmful relationships. But it never occurred to me that I was contributing to her demise.
The letter writer suggested that people could have sent Tweets urging her to get clean, or “liked” a Facebook page that told her how much she was loved and expressed concern for her abuse of drugs and alcohol.
What I know about chemical dependency leads me to doubt that would have much of a difference.
Further, who is accountable when celebrities act out? Our fascination with the misadventures of the “famous” is surely a factor, but at what point is personal choice and decision-making really the purview of the individual? Is it our fault that Mel Gibson has anger and bigotry issues? If we ignored any news of Lindsey Lohan, would she be a fine young American? If nobody watched golf, would Tiger Woods still be happily married?
And what of the craving that so many have for simply being known for something, rather than being known for something of value?
In the end, I’m unwilling to accept any responsibility for the tragic death of Amy Winehouse. Nor for the deaths (all,m like her, who died at 27) of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. I liked their music, I bought it, I hoped for more. I’m pretty sure that’s where my role in their lives ended.
But just in case, let me send this to all those celebrities who just need a nudge from me to change their lives: if drugs and alcohol are a problem for you, please get help and get clean. You have talent; don’t waste it. We’d like you to be healthy, happy and prolific.
There. I’ve done my part. You’ve got to make the decision.
I’m pulling for you.