Faux Grief and Public Displays

I don’t understand the need of the masses to co-opt a celebrity’s tragic death, take some kind of vicarious ownership of it, and try to focus some of the sorrow on themselves through a generalized feeling of faux camaraderie.

This morning my Facebook wall blew up with countless pictures and expressions of I-don’t-know-what over the untimely and tragic death of the actor Paul Walker.

Not to negate or minimize the actor’s death, or his career…but I fail to see or grasp the concept behind a person who may have seen one of the actor’s films in a darkened theater in a city or town thousands of miles away from the actor’s home, who then goes online to express grief/bereavement/sorrow at the actor’s death, as if that person was a personal and long-time pal of said actor.  It’s unlikely that the vicarious griever ever met the actor or knew much of anything about who he might’ve been as a person beyond what was viewed on a screen.  Nor, in this specific case, was the actor someone known for grand statements of public philanthropy or aid to underserved populations.  He was an actor.  A man who lived a life separate from his on-screen persona.  How can anyone, with any sort of personal integrity, pretend to have anything to do whatsoever with the aftermath of his death?

Is the society we now live in so obsessed with the delusion of having “known” someone simply because we viewed their films? That does not make those so-deluded any relation at all, does it?  Other than the fact they might have supported the actor’s career with a $12 theater ticket.  Once.  Back in 2002.

Princess Diana I understand.  JFK I understand.  Martin Luther King Jr. I understand.  These were people, celebrities, of the highest order.  They reached out to the world and tried to better the lives of those they met.

An actor who played roles in some action films?  That I don’t understand.

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