2016 seemed to be a horrible year for celebrities dying. It also seemed like a year in which people took it harder than most years. It didn’t help that one of our first losses of the year was a Rebel, Rebel icon and one of the last was our Rebel hero.
For Nola Nerd Couple there were celebrity lives that were lost that hit us hard in 2016: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Carrie Fisher.
Why does it affect us so much?
There were plenty of other tragedies in 2016. People in Flint Michigan went without a public supply of drinkable water. We watched an ancient city basically get wiped off the map in a war between the worst terrorist organization in the world and a government that has used chemical weapons on its own people. A major American city has had over 4300 people shot and around 770 homicides this calendar year alone. Regardless of how you voted, I’m not certain anyone voted with any real confidence that things will get better.
For the most part, we feel powerless to stop those things or unable to do anything that will bring about real change. Then when we see a pop culture icon die, it really hits us.
I think it’s because they all provide us with hope. David Bowie taught me you could make true beauty even when facing death. Moreso, he taught us all you can do it on your terms. Everyone that went back and listened to Prince remembered that you had an artist that could play guitar like Hendrix, write music like Lennon and McCartney, front a band like James Brown, and sing like, well, Prince. Alan Rickman often played villains or scoundrels or husbands, and no matter what his character’s motivations were, he made sure that he owned them. Yes, I thought Carrie was hot in that metal bikini. However, I thought she was a badass when she killed Jabba. She was no one’s slave and made sure that came through in her performance.
We call celebrities stars for a reason. They make our world brighter. Art, which they all strove for in their work, is a reflection of our best selves. Art is the hope we bring into the world even when it is a mirror to our darker impulses.
It’s ok to mourn people we have never met, because in the end, if they did their job to the fullest, the let us find out more about ourselves.