2017 is finally here, and people everywhere are looking back on all the celebrity deaths that occurred in 2016. Will the number of notable celebrity deaths be higher or lower in 2017? Either way, some people, such as a writer over at the New York Post, are pointing out that there is a certain epidemic involving celebrity deaths that is equally as pressing, if not more so, than the deaths themselves. This epidemic involves the shameless dehumanization of celebrity deaths for personal recognition and is known as “mournography.”
Mournography refers to the process in which a social media user pretends to be deeply affected by celebrity deaths that do not actually effect them emotionally simply as a way of producing content that will induce sympathy and garner attention. Essentially, the “mournographer” is hijacking the news of the celebrity death like it is a particularly topical meme, and some people view that as extremely disrespectful.
Take, for example, the recent fatal heart attack suffered by Star Wars actress and huge internet celebrity Carrie Fisher. When Fisher had the heart attack on the plane, the first person to notify the world of the event was the stranger sitting behind the celebrity, who immediately tweeted out the news.
“Don’t know how else to process this,” read the tweet, “but Carrie Fisher stopped breathing on the flight home. Hope she’s gonna be OK.” The text was punctuated with a frowny face emoji.
It may seem to some that the stranger was carrying out a public service by getting the bit of news out in the most timely manner possible. Others felt differently, though. They argued in their responses to the Twitter post that the stranger did not have the right to promote the celebrity’s death. That right belongs to her friends and family, if they should choose to exercise it. They said the tweet seemed to them like an insincere “oh no!” that was actually meant as a “you heard it here first!” measure. Did the total stranger really need to “process” the situation, or was she just vying for attention?
“Have some respect, don’t be tweeting about things like this!” one user chided.
It’s almost as if people value tweets about celebrity deaths more than giving the family of the deceased space to grieve. This became even more apparent in Fisher’s case the next day, when her ex-husband Paul Simon began receiving bullying messages because he had not posted about her passing.
Finally, he did post a short message stating that Fisher had been a wonderful girl and had gone too soon, and the bullying stopped. But shouldn’t Simon be allowed to grieve in whatever way he chooses?
The phenomena of regarding celebrity deaths as sensationalized headlines and using them as effortless tokens of empty sympathy have become more pronounced during the past years. A large part of that can be attributed to the rapidly increasing popularity of social media. Another factor behind the recent proliferation of mournography following celebrity deaths, though, is that reveling in said deaths has become a fad. Were there actually an unusually high amount of celebrity deaths in 2016, or were the deaths just more apparent because of the mournography trend?
Indeed, Fisher is far from the only major celebrity that did not live to see 2017, and hers is definitely not the only death that inspired loads of mournography. A few other entries in “celebrity deaths: 2016 edition” include David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, and Prince. There are many, many more, and almost all of them received the same cursory and, as many see it, disrespectful treatment as Fisher.
Will the popularity of mournography, which is basically sensationalizing and dehumanizing celebrity deaths, continue in 2017, or is it just a fad that will die out? And do you view it as disrespectful or not? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Lilli Day/iStock]