Live Fast, Die Young

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Sunday 5th August (2012) marked the 50-year anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s untimely death. With this landmark event in celebrity history being brought back into the limelight, one can’t help but think about the seemingly inevitable tragedies such as this one that penetrate celebrity culture. Two recent cases are brought instantly to mind upon such reflection: that of the heartrending deaths of Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse.  In all three public tragedies a huge amount of speculation has taken part amongst society, with each death being the point of discussion and debate on an epic scale.

It seems there is somewhat of an air of fate surrounding certain iconic figures to come to such a catastrophic end. Marilyn Monroe’s life was one of fame and intense observation, and brings to the forefront questions of how people cope in such a detached sense of the reality the majority of the public know and live. Her story bears uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson’s, with both cases undergoing investigations and being the centre of heated conspiracies.

Amy Winehouse, similarly, took to the public eye with an undeniable sense of shock and even scathing upon her death. What is incontestable is that each celebrity’s fame was sort of mummified in their horrific circumstances; to die young is to live forever in public memory. “Fame and fortune”, then, starts to seem a bit of an oxymoron. Perhaps fame and “unfortune” is a more accurate summary of the notorious.

Contemplating all of this, one is filled with a deep sense of sadness. Is being thrust into the spotlight a disguised curse? To live with such attention on one’s life must surely take its toll, and cannot be all champagne and frolics, rather must carry with it an undeniable dark shadow.

Booze, cigarettes and drugs form a part of many people’s lives, leading to the question of how many would eventually be defeated by these things if they were in the same position as Amy Winehouse. A troubled woman with publically known alcoholism and drug problems, it manifests within me a patent sense of anger to hear condemning remarks about her circumstances.

Many are quick to make such celebrities’ lives subject of flippant and abusive comments, but do not consider the turmoil a life of constant observation and public expectation brings with it. Perhaps this is the common denominator in Amy, Marilyn and Michael’s lives. Despite Michael Jackson’s death having now being proven to be the fault of his doctor’s, and Marilyn Monroe’s speculated to be murder, there pertains an overwhelming feeling that their warped versions of reality brought them to their final circumstances.

Perhaps then fame should be looked at in a different light. After all, it does seem to be the case that the public watch characters such as Pete Doherty with breath held in the throat to see if he will make a recovery from steady drug abuse. Is this a life you would choose? I guess, as they say, be careful what you wish for.

India Johnson

I have a degree in English from Leeds Uni and love to write. I like music, pretty words, films (especially French films) and books (especially American lit).


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