The Winehouse Effect

23 Jul

I saw of Amy Winehouse’s death and had mixed emotions over it. On the one hand, a fine salutary lesson regarding the inevitable, mortal cost of excessive alcohol and drug intake. On the other, the deep regret over the loss of such a talented singer before she had time to mature her gift.

Then I watched various social media sites. Filtering out the polite condolences, there was a sincere expression of grief counterpointed by a searing vitriol best summarised as “good riddance to another junkie”.
Which is so very sad. The character flaws, psychological dependencies or devastating histories that predicate a weakness for drug abuse are merely an extension of all of us. We’ve all been in situations where running from a problem is acted out by simply getting blitzed on whatever opiate we favour. To denigrate Ms Winehouse for her cause of death is to cheapen ourselves.
Fame does not produce strength of character, it usually emphasises and magnifies flaws. Those living in this society of instant fame should allow their celebrity gods to be human. The Greek pantheon was riddled with very human foibles, but the gods of Olympus were mighty and time has not diminished them.
Amy Winehouse had a significant problem that was very public. That she died today at the age of 27 is far more a damning indictment of the society she lived in than of the life she lived.

No, I did not like her music. But I cannot deny the wonder of her voice. I feel that many close to her will spend many years wishing they had done more, taken that one extra step. Grief and guilt a double burden.

Do not let the media vultures have their way with the corpse of this tragedy. In a few days Ms Winehouse will have been relegated to the long list of singers dead before their time came. While that is inevitable, it is increasingly unpalatable and unacceptable in this world of round the clock media coverage.

Remember her. Next time you see someone on a blatant course for self destruction, get off your arse and try to help. Don’t pass it by to let someone else step in. Make sure someone steps in because you made the call or visit, you posted on a social media site, whatever. Instant everything means you have no excuses anymore, because if failure to act is tantamount to killing, then we just let a real talent die through our own neglect.

Scream righteously about the death of a bad role-model as much as you like. I know why the torches burn low for on Mount Olympus tonight;

They mourn the death of yet another facet of care.


Posted by on July 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “The Winehouse Effect

  1. Anthony

    July 23, 2011 at 23:47

    “To denigrate Ms Winehouse for her cause of death is to cheapen ourselves.”

    Does that mean that you no longer agree with the statement lodged against Kurt Cobain, that he was a “coward” for taking his own life in the face of his mental illness?

    • thesilentjudge

      July 24, 2011 at 21:09

      A valid point. Before replying I had a dig into Mr Cobain’s demise, and while at the time I supported Seb Bach’s open letter on the topic, and still believe that those who take their own lives as an escape from their environment are indeed cowards, I would now have to caveat that with the fact that many forms of mental illness or long term pain can induce a suicidal state as the last recourse to avoid constant suffering. To define these people’s acts as cowardice would indeed be wrong. Voluntary self euthanasia is a clumsy term but does fit my thinking.
      However, while looking into Kurt Cobain’s demise, I did find an interesting summation by Nick Bloomfield, who made the 1998 film ‘Kurt & Courtney’. He extensively investigated the circumstances of Kurt’s death and his conclusion bears a resonance with what I wrote: “I think that he committed suicide. I don’t think there’s a smoking gun. And I think there’s only one way you can explain a lot of things around his death. Not that he was murdered, but that there was just a lack of caring for him. I just think that Courtney had moved on, and he was expendable.”


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