Is it just me or celebrities been in the media for all the wrong reasons over the past week? There was Alec Baldwin’s self-indulgent letter about why he’s quitting the public, Tyler Posey lashing out at Sterek fans, Sam Worthington hitting a paparazzo who attacked Lara Bingle and then, of course, the week’s most heartbreaking news; the sudden death of Charlotte Dawson. I was really surprised by how hard this news hit me on Saturday night. I never watched Next Top Model and only barely knew her from the regular comments she gave on other news stories, but still I felt this huge sense of loss. I got so depressed that I really didn’t want to do anything and just ended up watching South Pacific because it was there.
It’s not that I haven’t mourned the passing of celebrities before. Only a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a tribute for Shirley Temple. Last year, I cried my eyes out when I heard that Cory Monteith had passed away (yes, I’m a Gleek and proud of it). Being a Doctor Who fan has been the hardest, though. As a huge fan of the classic series I’ve experienced this enormous sense of shock before. In 2011, Nicholas Courtney (more popularly known as the Brigadier) died. As I was still trying to recover from this, I heard the news that Elisabeth Sladen had also passed on. It’s still one of the hardest things for me to accept, even all these years later. Sometimes I’m so stupid and re-watch the incredibly poignant Babelcolour tribute and cry for a while.
But after I finished crying, I wonder why I did. I didn’t know Elisabeth Sladen or Nicholas Courtney or Cory Monteith. I knew Sarah Jane and the Brigadier and Finn. Is that who I am mourning, the loss of the character as opposed to the person? Because we don’t really know celebrities. At all. We know the persona that they put across, not their true lives. Many of us quote our favourite actor’s lines when they pass away, although it wasn’t even said by them. It was by the screenwriter, they just brought the character to life. And that’s the key. Sometimes it feels like when you watch a really great actor bring a character to life, you just know that they’re bringing something of themselves into the part. Is that why I mourn them and still miss them, like lost members of my family?
But none of this applies to Charlotte Dawson, does it? Yeah, it does. All celebrities put across an image of themselves. Charlotte’s was as this cool and a little bit mean woman whom nothing would hurt. But she wasn’t really like that. The hateful comments and painful words hurt her like they do the rest of us and a life was tragically taken. I think sometimes we forget that celebrities are people too. And they make mistakes, like the best of us, and they hurt, like the best of us. It’s impossible to comprehend living life once you’re famous. There’s the constant paparazzi that just won’t leave you alone, the fans who stop you while you’re shopping and those people who just hate you and say cruel things over the internet because they can. It’s impossible to imagine and yet still we idolise them and are heartbroken when they fall.
I don’t really know what I was mourning when I heard the news of Charlotte’s passing. I don’t know if I mourned Elisabeth Sladen or Nicholas Courtney or Cory Monteith or the characters they played. But what I do know is this; we idolise celebrities because they’ve changed us. We’ve all seen that one movie, listened to that one song or read that one book that is absolutely life-changing or inspiring. When I feel down, I do something that’s going to be uplifting like listening to happy music or watch my favourite gay couple vlogging (thankyou, Lush!). People in the spotlight can change us. Fictional characters change us, sometimes more than the real ones because we’re able to see things differently. We’re able to see the world from the other side.
My mum was telling me just the other day that one of her clients (she’s a cleaner) doesn’t watch any television or film or read any books. He just listens to the radio. She was getting a bit annoyed because she didn’t know what to talk to him about (it was a respite job, meaning you have to talk to them for a couple of hours) and asked the rest of the family for advice. I literally had no idea what to say. I can’t imagine a life without fictional characters and the people who bring them to life. I can’t imagine never having ‘met’ the Doctor or Kurt or Donna or Katniss or Elsa. Some people might say that this is damaging, but I disagree.
As the old song goes when you wish upon a star, anything is possible. When you wish upon a star, like all the dreamers do.
We are all dreaming underneath the stars. And we wouldn’t have it any other way
The Playlist Of 19 Feb – 25 FebThe Sidestep (from The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas)
Hard Candy Christmas (Dolly Parton)
Come To Me (from Fright Night)
Legendary Lovers (Katy Perry)
Some Enchanted Evening (from South Pacific)
The Top 10 Films Of 19 Feb – 25 FebFright Night (1985)
In Search Of Dr. Suess
Samurai III: Duel At Ganyru Island
Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
Samurai II: Duel At Ichijoji Temple