Celebrities used to die in threes, now they seem to die daily. That means that much of one’s time on social media is regularly spent reacting or simply observing the activity surrounding a famous fallen figure. In the days that follow, a consensus processing of the star’s demise can be witnessed. Here are is the procedure presented day-by-day. You just may see yourself in it.
Day 1: The celebrity’s death is a global event. Tons of people make R.I.P. posts on Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media platform. Some offer stories of loving the dearly departed’s work since childhood, others post YouTube clips, there are remembrances from folks who met them in person, memes, and photos galore. It all feels heartfelt, sincere, and we all seem to be on the same page about how this artist’s achievements made this a better world.
Day 2: The backlash. We wake up to posts by people who aren’t fans, who want to point out bad things the artist did, and tell us that the star wasn’t who you thought they were. Maybe the artist cheated on or was violent to their partner, or maybe their art was racist or sexist or offensive in some manner; whatever it is, internet posters want their objections to the previous day’s adulation heard.
Day 3: A mixture of the last two day’s sentiments. Though the posts about the famous deceased are less frequent, they still randomly appear as there are some people who didn’t hear about it until a considerable time after the fact, and are catching up.
Day 4: The global event winds down. There still are tribute posts, but most people have moved on. Now, this applies mainly to A-listers, B and C-listers have a shorter online mourning period. Major stars like David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Tom Petty, Prince, etc. are still getting tribute posts – hell, I just saw someone post likewise about George Harrison and he’s been dead since 2001.
The one thing that can quicken the life of this cycle is if some other beloved celebrity passes not long after the original famous person passed. Example: A week ago, trash rocker Meat Loaf died. Less than a day later, comedian Louie Anderson died. That means that there were people who were mourning overtime.
While writing this, I find out that Howard Hesseman just died. So, of course, folks are posting pictures and clips mostly of his iconic character, Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati. That’s what I did. Sadly, as much as I love the guy, he’s largely known to people of a certain age who watched him on TV 40 years ago so he’s not A-list, and his homage will be short lived. In a day or two, Hesseman’s demise will be put aside for the social media homage to the next famous fallen figure, and the cycle will restart.
I’ll end now with a picture of Dr. Johnny Fever that I drew 40 years ago. I think I was trying to capture him one of his greatest moments, his “Give it to me straight, Doctor, I can take it!!!” declaration from the show’s pilot.