On Saturday I was forwarded the Global Grind blog post by Gabrielle Union that was marketed as a commentary related to the death of Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Chris Henry. My first inclination was not to read it. Though I’m not a ‘fan’ of Union, I do think she’s very talented, but have never known her to assert any social awareness. But since respectable people such as Hill Harper were saying that her post was “insightful” and thought-provoking I figured I’d read.
Unfortunately, Union’s post was a rant not so much about Henry but about the public’s obsession with celebrity and how it’s keeping us from focusing on our own issues and problems. In the post Union says that the public is trying to “live like Diddy when their homes are being foreclosed” and are focusing on chasing Tiger Wood’s wife around like animals rather than getting counseling for their own issues.
It was a fitting anti-tabloid culture rant for someone who has been heavily profiled in gossip blogs for the past two years as she openly gallivanted around with someone else’s husband. I’m not making a statement as to whether or not Union and Wade have done anything unseemly, I just think the content of her blog post was interesting given the circumstances in which she finds herself.
Union’s post was very insulting to her fans, who, without interest in celebrity culture she’d be just another girl on the block. [Beyond that, the post was also insulting to Henry’s memory. Why market a personal rant as something relative to someone’s tragic death (the cause of which is still not resolved) when nothing thoughtful was said regarding the deceased or the circumstances surrounding his death.]
That same day that I read and disapproved of Union’s post, the news about Brittany Murphy’s death hit the web. Comedian Lil Duval and Wendy William’s side-kick Charlamagne took to twitter to inform their followers that they are too obsessed with celebrities and shouldn’t be discussing the death of an entertainer because there are “other” more important things going on.
I can’t help but find this to be strange and ill-timed commentary coming from two men who are making a living in the entertainment business. Once again, without interest in celebrities they would be unable to support themselves or their families.
Also, Brittany Murphy's death, regardless of her fame and talent, qualifies for thoughtful discussion. Like many young women she struggled with life’s challenges: depression, drugs, anorexia, and possibly falling in love with a destructive personality. Her life mirrors far too many women's, and it’s a shame that two people would use the forum they’ve been given on a social network to lambaste people for wanting to express condolences for the loss of the life of someone with whom, if nothing else, we share our humanity.
It almost seems as though the lower level the celebrity is the more ungrateful they are for the attention they or others receive. C and D list black celebrities continue to complain about their mentions on YBF and Crunktastical even though pre-2005 (when those blogs started) our favorite has-been stars weren’t being sought out or kept up with. Now, they receive regular coverage and some of them have re-emerged in part due to the coverage provided by the black blogosphere. In fact, the black blogosphere and gossip rags can be credited with taking many niche black celebrities into the mainstream.
I won’t deny that the some of the attention the tabloids and blogs give certain A list celebrities has got to be annoying, and some of the gossip is hateful and mean-spirited. But it’s hard to feel sorry for someone like Kanye West, who has taken to his blog several times to complain about the attention he receives) when that is the lifestyle that they've actively sought knowing full well the implications.
Celebrities who like privacy live life lowkey like Beyonce or Johnny Depp, they don't parade around at every single industry party or go out of their way to flaunt their lifestyles.
And let’s not pretend, as soon as the cameras stop following celebrities, they have their publicists arrange for cameras to show up so that ‘candids’ can be taken and distributed. And publicists also start rumors about who their clients are sleeping with to put their names back in the news. All so the celeb can take to a blog post and pretend like the attention is “all too much” *dramatic sigh*
Furthermore, it’s silly to imply that people can’t multi-task their life priorities. There’s no reason to think that you can’t get an inappropriate and slightly insensitive kick and giggle out of the Tiger Woods debacle while also staying abreast of the catastrophic collapse of the healthcare legislation originally proposed by the President.
In other words, you can both mourn Michael Jackson’s passing and realize that non-famous people die too. You can also read about the latest celeb’s battle with depression and also seek counseling for your own issues. In fact, you may actually become more likely to do so.
All I have to say to these ‘celebrities’ who are so tired of people reading and talking about ‘celebrities’ is this: If you want to deliver a big EFF YOU!! to the public, that’s fine, but don’t be surprised if we start to remember.