Over the weekend, the world learned of troubled chanteuse Amy Winehouse’s death—and a portion thereof took to Twitter to mediate a confusing set of feelings. Many Twitter users scolded one another for caring quite so much about Winehouse’s death in light of the recent tragic attack in Norway.
Ms. Winehouse was, said Maura Johnston, music editor of the Village Voice, “one of the first stars to experience the entirety of the gossip blog cycle. She was always in the papers for being this outsized persona who behaved erratically and referred to trauma in her music”—and thus a logical celebrity whose demise might be debated in strident, critical tones. “It’s easy to take a celebrity as someone who’s not a person but a consumable object—not post-human but almost abstracted in a way. That also happens when people who may only know each other from online interactions interact online!” Hence the Twitter ranting at one another only tangential to Winehouse’s death.
Past premature celebrity deaths hadn’t engendered quite the response as did Winehouse’s—thanks in large part, Ms. Johnston believes, due to the rise of Twitter as an easy method of posting instant thoughts. “The content of what people were saying,” in the past, said the editor, “was probably very similar, but the amplification—and the resultant shitstorms of someone saying ‘But how can you be sad about that after the tragedy in Norway’ was probably far less.”
Even though the death of Amy Winehouse occurred on a Saturday, the portable, smartphone-able Internet takes no days off. Said Ms. Johnston: “The reactions online to Amy Winehouse were almost as fast as the reactions to Murdoch!”
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