So. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died today.
Do you think I care? No, I do not. Sad for their families, but it matters not a bit to me.
I don't get the "cult of celebrity" thing. Why are we so wrapped up in the lives of people we will never meet, people we only see on television, or on stages hundreds of feet away? Do we know them? No, I don't think we do.
I was in England on the day Diana died. Living there with my husband. It was my 28th birthday, and we, Luddites at the time, watched TV on a very limited basis (once a week, maybe) and hadn't turned on the radio that day. We were having a lovely day, out and about, seeing beautiful things, having tea, enjoying ourselves. I remember that we saw a church with the flag flying at half mast, and figured someone had died.
Indeed, someone had.
At the time, I worked in London, and spent 3 hours a day on trains from our little village, into London, where I switched to the Underground. All that week, people sat on those trains, some of them holding flowers, many of them weeping. And I thought, why? Did you know her? How did she improve your life? I may sound callous, but, really--who was she to you, other than some woman who married a prince and happened to be reasonably attractive? I think Diana, like any other celebrity, knew how to work the media, knew how to make herself more appealing, knew how to, perhaps, use the public for her own goals.
And yes, she was the mother of two young boys, and I do believe she loved them with all her heart. I'm not disputing that. But we didn't know her, none of us. Didn't know her faults (for surely she had them), didn't know her weaknesses, didn't know who she genuinely was. Anymore than we know who Farrah and Michael were. I suspect that the passing of Michael Jackson will elicit something of the cult-like devotion and hysteria that followed Diana's death, and once again, I will be amazed by it.
Do you remember when Ronald Reagan died? I remember the day of his funeral, turning on PBS for Charlotte to watch one of the children's programs, and instead there was his funeral procession. Thousands of people standing in the streets, newscasters from all over commentating on the spectacle of the hearse going by, the funeral aired on TV.
And all I could think was, weeks past Ben's death--why did the world not stop in this way for my son?