Yesterday, the country was rocked by the sad news of Amy Winehouse’s death, aged just 27.
I should preface this blog by saying that I loved her. Even in her most obviously drug-addled of states in public appearances I found her witty and charming. Her music spawned an entirely new genre and a generation of copycats. And she somehow represented the spirit of North London in a way I can’t quite define and which had nothing to do with her addiction to narcotics.
Having said that, I’m finding the public reaction to her death concerning, for a number of reasons:
In the blue corner are people trying to attach some sort of spiritual significance to her passing by pointing out that Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin and Kurt Kobain also died aged 27.
A lot of people die aged 27 and the danger here is that, just like the others mentioned in that list, the death of Amy, rather than serving as a chilling reminder of the dangers of drug addiction, is somehow going to promote the idea that drugs are ‘cool’.
In the red corner we have the somewhat spurious moral outrage of a group of people who inexplicably think it’s inappropriate to mourn Amy’s death, because of the recent tragedies in Norway. I can’t quite fathom the logic of attempting to establish a connection between these two completely unrelated incidents. It is possible to be concerned about two things at once, for most humans. It’s not like one detracts from the other.
Apparently, according to some, Amy ‘chose’ to die. This completely misunderstands the nature of addiction. In a sense, our more general perception of Amy, as fuelled by the media, is to blame. Because every time we saw her falling out of a club at 3am we made a joke of it and assumed she was having a lovely time. We didn’t see someone who was desperately in need of intervention.
The attitudes of the red corner brigade shows a disturbing lack of compassion. And the blue corner brigade show a wilful misinterpretation of the facts.
Let’s remember Amy as a remarkable songstress and let her death be a reminder that even the young, rich, famous and talented are not invincible.