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worldwide mourning of famous peopleDo you think the worldwide mourning of a famous...

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dominion | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted June 26, 2009 at 12:09 PM via web

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worldwide mourning of famous people

Do you think the worldwide mourning of a famous person death i.e celebrities is just mass hysteria?

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:09 PM (Answer #2)

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I do.  I imagine that this question was generated in response to the response to Michael Jackson's death.  Celebrities have always been part of a cult, receiving adulation far beyond what (I think) they contribute to the general good.  And this is not a specific response to Michael's death.  I was a much bigger fan of Luciano Pavorati and miss his contribution to my entertainment, but there are plenty of recordings of his (and Michael's) greatest work, and I suspect that their best days were behind both of them.

But my point is more specific:  these people, no matter how talented, are just entertainers who have made great contributions to pop music/opera; but we need to get a grip on their significance in the grander scheme of things.

(My apologies in advance to Jackson/Pavorati fans.)

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:29 PM (Answer #3)

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I do. When I see people crying for people they don't even know, I can't imagine how they would feel over the death of their own for parent or child.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 26, 2009 at 2:31 PM (Answer #4)

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Absolutely.  I recall news stories of Lincoln's and Kennedy's deaths, although I wasn't born yet.  I remember the deaths of Elvis and Princess Diana vividly...the hoards of people who wept on TV and who gathered to leave their flowers and momentos was incomprehensible.  Now, Farrah Fawcet's and Michael Jackson's deaths have superceded the important news like John and Kate's divorce.  Wow!

I hate to seem like I'm belittling the grief these people's families and friends feel, but for the general public, I don't understand it.  It is almost like they put so much emphasis on this news so that they can temporarily forget their own personal issues. 

What is important is the state of the economy and how we're going to get out of the mess we're in when China all but owns our nation and we're so dependent on foreign oil for our energy.  I hate to think about socialized medicine and what that will do to us since we already know it doesn't work in Canada and Europe...otherwise, the ones who live in those countries who can afford to seek medical attention in the US wouldn't be here for their surgeries, etc.

While these entertainers have certainly blessed us all with wonderful music, movies, and other worthwhile contributions, and there is no question they will be missed, this is not what we need to focusing our complete and undivided attention on today. 

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 26, 2009 at 3:19 PM (Answer #5)

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Well, I looked up "mass hysteria" to see how it is formally defined. Definitions vary, but the common thread seems to be strong emotion of some type (classically, fear) beginning with a small group and then spreading to a large body of people, feeding upon itself as it grows. So, is the mourning of celebrities a spontaneous outpouring of grief, or does it feed upon itself and grow larger, in our time through media coverage? Probably both, but for whom do people mourn?

I suppose it is possible for some people to feel as if they know someone they have never met, but how strong would that identification have to be to provoke weeping? Amazing to me. But if the "who" is removed from the equation, maybe what many people are mourning is instead a "what." What life was when this celebrity and I were young together? What this celebrity reminds me of in my own personal history? What might have been? Maybe losing a very famous and enduring celebrity is the loss of the past, evoking strong personal memories. Combine those feelings with music (powerfully evocative) and a mass response might be more understandable.

A few weeks ago I saw an Elvis tribute show, ninety minutes of Elvis's music, one song after another from rock to ballads to gospel. I'm a people watcher, so I watched. Around the room, different people came alive when different songs were played. Some smiled or went "ohhh." I saw one "senior citizen" reach for his wife's hand. Later, through a show of hands, it became clear that every person in the room remembered where he or she had been when Elvis died. I think it wasn't just a celebrity they mourned.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted June 26, 2009 at 4:02 PM (Answer #7)

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To say that "mourning of a famous person death is a mass hysteria", is an objective and correct observation, but saying "mourning of a famous person death is just a mass hysteria" seems to imply that this mass hysteria is something frivolous. I don't see the justification of considering it frivolous.

If large number of people feel some link with a person and mourn his or her death, why should others. who don't feel the same way, belittle feeling of others, even if their observable behavior may have been partly shaped by behavior of others. Even in death of close relatives and friends, people breakdown and cry when they see others doing so.

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dominion | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted June 26, 2009 at 5:19 PM (Answer #8)

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To say that "mourning of a famous person death is a mass hysteria", is an objective and correct observation, but saying "mourning of a famous person death is just a mass hysteria" seems to imply that this mass hysteria is something frivolous. I don't see the justification of considering it frivolous.

If large number of people feel some link with a person and mourn his or her death, why should others. who don't feel the same way, belittle feeling of others, even if their observable behavior may have been partly shaped by behavior of others. Even in death of close relatives and friends, people breakdown and cry when they see others doing so.

Thanks for the great responses. I wasn't posting the question with the intent of implying histeria was frivilous or to belittle the feelings of others. Yes the question was asked mostly because of the recent death of a well known celebrity. I do find it hard to understand how someone can be so upset and not have known the person personally, I mean how do these people react when a close family member passes away? I do however understand that maybe the celebrity reprensents a part in someones life through music or film etc, but shouldn't we seperate the celebrity persona we know from the real life person we don't?

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:22 PM (Answer #9)

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In reply to Post #8 I would like to state that emotional ties need not necessarily be weak between people who have not met personally or interacted with each other in some other way. It is quite true that personal interaction provides greater opportunity for development of emotions such as like. dislike, love and hate. But such emotions can develop without personal interaction also.

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted June 27, 2009 at 1:09 AM (Answer #10)

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I'm not sure my example will fit the 'worldwide mourning' intensity of your topic, however the day that Jerry Garcia died, 8-9-1995 (a man I never met) did have a profound effect on me, I was beside myself. The Grateful Dead did have a unique following, fans would go on 'tour', so I think it does have relevance to your topic. Over the years I've thought about why his death had such an impact on my life, considering I never met him face to face. This is my educated conclusion: Jerry Garcia's music filled a hole in my heart. Omitting the sorted details of that hole just know that when I heard his music at 16 years old, I felt better. The irony of it all is that  I was lucky, in the 5th grade I was given a test to see if I had musical potential by the  Board of Education. At the age of 11, I began playing the violin. I learned how to read music and started playing the guitar. The musical education I received in the N.Y.C. public school system allowed me by 16 to play the music I loved at the time I needed something to believe in.  Playing music, be it the school orchestra, or later singing the songs of Jerry Garcia  gave me the strength to perservere. It pains me to say that while it is true that Garcia fought his 'demons', he was liken to an angel to me, life is funny that way. One man gathers what another man spills...  There is that old saying... as long as you remember them... they are always with you...

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 27, 2009 at 11:51 AM (Answer #11)

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When Princess Diana passed away I remember feeling that odd sensation that I had known her all along, and I caught myself literally crying and somewhat mourning her. I felt like that for a while, I mean, not like crying every day nor anything like that, but I did sense a loss. Even today, when I see her children on TV I sort of wonder what she would think of them now that they are so grown and handsome. Especially the redhead.

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted June 28, 2009 at 12:34 AM (Answer #12)

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I think it is because people want to associate with famous and wealthy people and somehow convince themselves that they had indeed known them. You don't see too many people crying over horrible accidents that occur every day.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 1, 2009 at 4:02 AM (Answer #13)

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I think we can spin this topic in a positive light, and in this attempt, I will post a comment.  I think that thr worldwide mourning of a celebrity can lend itself to mass hysteria or the maudelin sentimentality that we have seen.  However, there is something universal that is shared when people worldwide share their mourning in a collective sense.  For example, in the case of Michael Jackson, is has been very interesting to see people from different narratives and backgrounds share similar experiences about "the first time I heard 'Thriller" or "the first time I saw him moonwalk."  In a world that is becoming closer and closer in terms of links and information sharing, the shared worldwide mourning of celebrity deaths could be one more connection that we share.  Granted, this is an extremely positive spin to much of what has been witnessed, but I feel there is something to be said here.

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:36 PM (Answer #14)

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I think that the mourning of Michael Jackson has reached a level of mass hysteria that is creating a circus-like atmosphere, instead of a dignified one that the quiet private man deserves.  His family is using his death to profile their own issues, especially his father who is trying to promote a new record company while discussing his son's funeral arrangements on television.  This behavior has brought out the worst in people, who are already fighting to prove that they loved him best.  Even his family is fighting and positioning for his money, his assets, even his children.

Michael Jackson's enormous talent will never be forgotten, but he was not a head of state or royalty, he was an entertainer and therefore, the coverage is over the top.  But it is because the various media outlets don't want to be left out of the craziness surrounding what will be a very public funeral.

I can understand that his family wants to celebrate his life, give his fans a chance to grieve, but he was an entertainer, not someone like Princess Diana who did so much to help the world in so many charitable ways.

I also heard that there are fans of Michael Jackson's who are so overwhelmed that they are committing suicide because they can't live without him.  This is ridiculous!

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted July 1, 2009 at 6:13 PM (Answer #15)

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The death of Michael Jackson seems in many ways much the same to me as the death of Elvis Presley.  It is a different generation who is in mourning over a pop star.

Fans of Elvis Presley acted in many ways much the same as the fans of Michael Jackson have acted. There was investigation regarding the death of Elvis and also regarding Michael Jackson. The fans of Michael Jackson are a generation younger than Elvis fans, and certainly appreciative of his music.

I think the behavior of Michael Jackson's family is very much like buzzards fighting over a carcass.  The entertainer was a very reclusive and private person, but he certainly enjoyed his ability to entertain and work up a crowd.  He also certainly had issues with his family.  I am not sure he would want his parents to have custody of his children, but in these circumstances, who else would step up and take responsibility for them? We are going to see the depths of dysfunctionality that Michael sought to avoid all through the news and press.

The problem I have with the entire Michael Jackson death coverage by the press is that there are other things going on in the world that are of at least as much news worthy reporting.  What is going on in the world that we are not being told during all of this media circus surrounding Michael Jackson's death?

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:08 PM (Answer #16)

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Looking for an idol/icon has been a long human obsession, be it Jackson or Lady Diana. We live in the midst of hard realities, and love to build our phantasies/myths that represent larger-than-life images/dimensions. This may be hysteric, but who can live this life without a little bit of hysteria? The masses are the common lump of routine ordinary living; allow it to be a little spicy, a bit saucy, a bit absurd even.

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xxalannahxx | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted July 2, 2009 at 3:29 AM (Answer #17)

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I think it is sad that Michael Jackson passed away but everyone is blowing it way out of proportion last year they didnt have a good word to say about him and now all you hear is Michael Jackson this and Michael Jackson that and its starting to really bugging me. His father was on the telly the other night and he was crying his eyes out after him beating him when he was younger. Michael even wrote him out of his will!!

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