Houston Highlights a Problem

English: American singer Whitney Houston perfo...

Whitney Houston. ... Image via Wikipedia

The recent death of Whitney Houston brought to light once again a particular tendency of Westerners, and of Americans in particular, one that’s not something to be proud of.

As Ms. Houston’s memorial service was going on, fans packed the area outside the venue, many of them clamoring to be allowed to get closer. And I wondered: What’s wrong with these people?

I understand being a fan of someone or something, and of course it’s sad when someone dies, but how can so many people be distraught over the death of someone they didn’t even know. And no, following a celebrity’s every move or maintaining a website dedicated to a particular celebrity doesn’t mean you know that person; you may know their “vital statistics” (height, weight, birth date, favorite food, underwear preference), but that doesn’t mean you know them. And you shouldn’t be out in public grieving them like you would (or should) grieve for a close relative or friend.

I think something similar happened after Michael Jackson died (“Oh, Michael!”), and I’m also reminded of how people sometimes act this way toward living celebrities as well: Remember all those teenie-boppers screaming and crying when the Beatles came to America? Ridiculous. All of these people made foolish spectacles of themselves, and they need to stop what they’re doing and get their priorities in the right order.

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