Thanks a lot, Keith Richards.
Because of you, whenever a perpetually-cracked out celebrity dies, some people are “shocked, SHOCKED” that it happened. Had you died in 1974, like logic dictated, then even the densest of slack-jaws would have been preparing for Amy Winehouse’s death the minute they saw her video tribute to people of all races (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75yifjn7bHo).
But instead, to the astonishment of people without a sense of cause and effect, Amy Winehouse dropped dead at age 27 on Saturday, about three or four years after her dignity did.
Look, I’m not going to make the usual “Rehab/Yes Yes Yes/No No No” jibes that everyone and their mother’s Facebook walls have been overloaded with. In fact, my beef isn’t with Amy Winehouse at all. To be fair, I’ve barely heard any of her songs, and I would probably know next to nothing about her if her mug wasn’t plastered all over the internet during her descent into drug-ravaged infamy.
But my beef is not with Winehouse. She could have lived until age 95 on a steady diet of crack pipes and her very own reconstituted vomit, and I, at age 95, wouldn’t have minded, as long as she didn’t pass out on my front lawn. Much like Justin Beiber, Jersey Shore, Big Brother, and Megan Fox, as long as I don’t have to hear about her, they can exist before others, and I won’t waste my hatred on them.
My problem, or rather “amusement”, comes from the people who are chastising others for mocking Winehouse in death.
First off, dead celebrity jokes are a staple of our culture. We didn’t know these larger-than-life figures personally, and they’re nice, sobering reminders of a little thing called “black humor”.
Why did John Lennon get shot four times? Because Yoko ducked! What does Kurt Cobain have in common with Michaelangelo? They both used their brains to paint the ceiling! How is baseball like alcohol? Mickey Mantle really enjoys the bottom of the fifth! What do John F Kennedy Jr and Rock Hudson have in common? They both died off of Gay Head! What’s the difference between Dale Earnhardt and Batman? The wall folds down when Batman drives into it!
There are, literally, thousands of others. Lennon, Cobain, Mantle, Kennedy, Hudson, and Earnhardt are just a handful of celebrities that have had tragic ends spawn cruel punchlines for comedians, both professional and amateur.
Unlike the previous names, Amy Winehouse was a tabloid punchline well before she died, much like Anna Nicole Smith. You wouldn’t have to Google too long before you find caches of jokes that mock either of them.
And that was when they were ALIVE.
So now that Amy Winehouse is dead, we have to suspend all jokes about her crack whore appearance, racist singing, horrible taste in men (Blake Fielder-Civil? REALLY?!?!), and the irony of her singing “Rehab”? Says who? Who are you to tell someone what they can and can’t joke about?
I mean, 9/11 certainly isn’t funny, but that doesn’t stop websites from selling shirts that say “I ♥ NEW YORK” with an airplane replacing the heart. Are you prepared to spend your life avenging every injustice that an insensitive clod has stricken upon the deceased?
And besides, why is it still ok to make fun of Winehouse while she was living? Tabloid shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight couldn’t WAIT to show you the latest video of Amy staggering the streets like a half-crippled urchin, or play the audio of something ridiculous that she said. It’s ok to contribute to her descent, but everyone has to lay off once she’s going, as George Carlin may say, “bye bye in a box”?
Getting back on point, some of these outcriers are saying “That’s somebody’s daughter/sister/cousin/wife/friend!” and we should lay off out of respect for those close to the departed.
I find this to be very faulty logic, because if I had somebody in my family that was that much of a disheveled, rotting zombie, thanks to personal choices, myself, and others, would first to try to help steer them in a better direction. If that failed once or twice, we’d realize (well, *I* would) that the individual simply doesn’t want to improve their odds of living. Then, when they die of their demons, it’s their fault, and their fault alone.
Let’s say a close cousin of mine goes full-Winehouse. They destroy their life on their crack pipe, decay away like a dead animal in the scorching sun, and refuses to get proper help (or continues the bad habits after seeking said help), then what?
Then I cut em loose.
Then when someone makes a joke about my cousin being such a foul-up, I don’t take it personally. It’s not MY fault they died, because I made attempts to save their life. So if you wish to mock my hypothetical cousin in death over their stupidity, go ahead. They’d deserve it.
And while it’s not my thing to tell someone how to think, if Amy’s family wasn’t prepared for this day, they’re the equivalent of Ryan Dunn’s family being shocked, SHOCKED, that he was the kind of person who could wrap a Porsche around a tree, doing 130 with the depth perception of a squinting Helen Keller.
Chris Farley made me roll around laughing when he was on SNL and doing Tommy Boy. But you know, I wouldn’t begrudge you or anyone else from making overdose jokes, because he deserved his fate.
Chris Benoit? Loved watching him wrestle, but a ‘weight machine’ joke is a good way to pay homage to a child killer.
So get used to it. The jokes will continue as long as the news stories do. They’ll resurface over time as long as her legacy is brought up. This is reality.
And if you can’t handle it, find other ways to deal with that painful reality.
Amy did, and I don’t think you wanna go down that path.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.
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