This is the final Thursday of 2016 and as this is a nostalgia column, I felt it would be appropriate to take a minute for reflection. In the world of pop culture and entertainment, this has been a rough one. An overwhelming number of celebrities died this year, including David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman and, as of Tuesday, Carrie Fisher.
When a celebrity dies, social media is often filled with tributes to the deceased, sometimes with a short “RIP Princess Leia” and other times with a long, heartfelt message. And then, sure enough, some asshole comes along and says something to the effect of how stupid it is for people to mourn a celebrity they didn’t even know when people die all the time.
Although people may not have known the celebrity personally, that doesn’t mean the public doesn’t have a reason to mourn. Movies, music, television shows, and books can have profound impacts on us as people. Hell, that’s the whole reason I get to have this column–we loved stuff decades ago and its presence shaped our childhood and adolescence.
When a celebrity dies, we are mourning not only the loss of an individual but also the loss of what might have been, what more they could have done. The beautiful memories of these people live on but the chance for more has been taken away. There will never be a new single from David Bowie, Alan Rickman will never star in another movie, and the Star Wars universe just got a little darker.
That reasoning might sound a little selfish–“THEY’RE DEAD, THERE’S NOTHING LEFT TO CONSUME!”–but that’s not how I mean it. Many of the people we’ve lost in 2016 are devastating due to what they meant to their fans. Take David Bowie–the dude was weird as fuck. But by being weird as fuck, he let other people, younger kids especially, know it was okay to be weird, too.
Carrie Fisher was like that too. In her portrayal of Princess Leia, she showed multiple generations that you can be a woman and a total badass and you don’t need some guy to save you. Even when she’s captured by Jabba the Hut, she doesn’t sit around waiting for Luke and Han to save her–she strangles Jabba to death because she’s got shit to do.
You don’t need to personally know someone in order for your life to be touched by them or their work. A loss is still a loss and people need to be given time to mourn and reflect, and 2016 has certainly given us a lot to think about. If you feel the need, take your time to be sad. That’s okay, despite what that dick on Facebook says. I’ll see you next week with our regularly scheduled nostalgia nonsense.