The death of a celebrity with the involvement of drugs or alcohol is unfortunately happening often enough that a frustrating pattern in the public reaction can be discerned. It happened with Heath Ledger, Cory Monteith, variations on the theme with both Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and most recently this weekend with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. The extremes in the reactions seem directly proportional to the general level of respect for the celebrity and their work, and with Mr. Hoffman’s passing the conversation exploded.
The reactions, completely over-generalized for the sake of further discussion, go something like this.
- News organization: Celebrity dies. Drugs and alcohol likely involved.
- General Public: WOW, it’s newsworthy, I should say something.
- Group A: What a loss, I loved this person/their work.
- Group B: This is sad, I feel bad for the friends and family.
- Group C: This is an absolute tragedy, addiction is terrible.
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