I remember when David Bowie passed away. It was a big shock at the time. No one knew of his illness, and it was only a couple days after the release of his mysterious and eerie final album Blackstar.
That morning sucked.
I phoned my friend Tyson, but he already knew. We had spent the previous two months listening to Bowie’s entire discography front to back, an album a night.
There was a ton of media coverage as you’d expect. Numerous Twitter eulogies, and friends you just found out were Bowie super fans.
During this time, I first stumbled on this idea I couldn’t shake off because I knew it was true.
There’s no easy way to say this, but there’s going to be a lot of celebrity death news coming in the next few years.
It’s inevitable. There is a large number of super celebrities above the age of 70.
Eastwood, Pacino, de Niro, Connery, Caine, Hoffman, Hopkins, Nicholson, Mirren, Keaton, Streisand, Ford, Stallone, Cher, Freeman, Duvall. And those are just actors.
The invention of the television, rock and roll, and the internet has widened the pool of celebrity to such a degree that we’re going to be hearing more and more celebrity death news as part of the news.
The last few years are an indicator it’s on the rise, too.
We’re so inundated with culture that it’ impossible not to hear about the latest celebrity death with, and we know the most amount of people humans have ever known. It’s rife to create this situation.
Aretha Franklin. John McCain. Mac Miller. Anthony Bourdain. Avicii. Stephen Hawking.
It’s already harrowing how often we’re bombarded with death related news.
So, how is the media going to deal with reporting on a subject that is only going to become more and more prevalent?
The celebrities obituaries already claim a formidable chunk in the vapid magazines and Hollywood blogs online, but the coverage they retain mainstream is often great too. And with the gravitas of many of these influential people, there’s going to be a reaction.
Do we know what the coverage looks like of a Rolling Stone, Beatle, and Zeppelin member all dying within a couple weeks? All information streams would be overflowing.
Perhaps nothing like that will happen, which would be nice, and this inevitable trend will go steadily and without significant weirdness.
Maybe most of it is bound to be like the reaction of this bartender I bumped into last weekend. My friend and I saddled up to the bar and we ordered two Burt Reynolds.
A Burt Reynolds is a shot, shaken (not stirred) of spiced rum mixed with butter ripple.
She goes to ring up the drinks.
“In honour of the late Burt Reynolds,” I added.
I might as well have been speaking Japanese. She looked up and stared at me blankly. It was like telling someone Tim Horton was a real person.
She dropped the drinks in front of us and walked away. We cheers’d.
Maybe most of us kids won’t know or care that much, and we’ll just pretend and nod along.
I just can’t help but think that we’ve backed our way into an information and unfortunately all too human corner, and there’s no way to escape the next sweeping celebrity mourning.