When celebrities die …

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“Those who belittle anybody’s death with jokes, or describing what was wrong with that person in life, are all the evidence he needs to know how far society has irrevocably fallen. Quite a shame, how far we’ve dipped as a people.”

— Brian Hickey


When celebrities die, people seem to think it’s OK (appropriate, even) to make fun. I’m already seeing it with Michael Jackson, where seemingly every third Twitter and Facebook comment is about his nose or his skin color or his pet monkey.

On this, I cry serious bulls^%t.

Yes, Michael Jackson was an odd character. OK—very odd. But it strikes me as even more odd that, when someone famous dies, people often forget that he/she was an actual (gasp!) human who is (gasp!) actually dead. Their lives are completely over. Ended. Terminated. They no longer exist, and never will again exist. It’s terribly, terribly, terribly sad, and while we can comfort ourselves by saying, “Michael lives on through his music,” it’s not actually true. Michael Jackson does not live on. He is deceased. His heart no longer beats, his blood no longer flows, his mind no longer works.

I don’t find that even remotely funny.

10 thoughts on “When celebrities die …”

  1. I am stunned by people’s insensitivity – just absolutely stunned. The lack of respect for human life is absolutely astounding. No matter what set of beliefs a person adheres to, everyone should have compassion and sympathy when a person passes away, and to joke or belittle that fact is, frankly, somewhat sickening.

  2. Yes, Jackson’s passing is very sad. And no, it’s not appropriate to make fun of his skin or general appearance. But the facebook statuses I have seen are poking at his, um, “overwhelming love” for children. The guy was a pedophile, ok? Anyone who gives me the “he was proven innocent!” bullsh-t probably thinks OJ is innocent too. Look, where there’s smoke there’s fire. And there was a TON of smoke in the accusations that came to the forefront. The accusations coupled with things he said serves as serious evidence. Sure, it’s fine to celebrate Jackson’s talents and musical abilities but let’s not pretend that we lost Mother Teresa here. Being sad for the loss of Michael Jackson the pop star is obviously acceptable. It’s just that there’s a pretty big elephant in the corner that can’t be ignored. Simple as that.

  3. Look, when celebrities die, there’s going to be a portion of society that makes crude jokes about them. It happens. It’s bad. It’s not right. But aren’t we forgetting one thing…. Oh yeah! He sexually molested children! I went to middle school with Gavin, the kid who accused him of molesting him in 2003 and there was no way in hell that MJ didn’t do something to him.

    So yeah, we should mourn MJ because he was an amazing musician and performer. He also molested children. You going to chastise us for making fun of Roman Polanski’s love of exposing himself to 13-year old girls when he dies? I’m a fan of your work, Jeff, but come on. Who are you trying to kid? Because he was famous we can’t ridicule a child molester?

  4. Jeff,

    I agree. I hate when people make fun of folks that just died. You’re right, they are human NOT punch lines.

    In fact, one blog I went to used this description of the guy the day he died:

    “Having grown up with freaky Jacko—the Pez-dispenser nosed white man with a pet monkey and a dangling baby”

    What’s with some people, huh?

  5. I’m more tolerant concerning jokes about a dead child molester than I am about a living person who molests children.

  6. Jeff, I’m on board when it comes to crude jokes at someone’s death. That I can do without.

    That said, there’s nothing wrong at all with an honest appraisal of someone’s life, warts and all. Not only is there nothing wrong with it, it’s what’s totally appropriate. He was a deeply troubled life. We all have our skeletons — though maybe not to the extent MJ did.

    I think what would be dishonest — and a pity — would be to only look at the good parts of his life. He was far, far more complicated than that.

  7. So its OK to trash them when they are alive, but not once they die? So somehow their life is more precious AFTER they die? You must already be working on your eulogy for A-Rod.
    What an idiot.

    Your soap box is damaged and insufficient for your weight.

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