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33 responses to “Amy Winehouse and the tragedy of myths”

  1. Casey

    You are right. Everywhere pieces are springing up proliferating the big meme of the 27 club and its attendant fatalism.

    Yet this article here:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080206083621/http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/20071212_Karen_Heller___The_ruin_of_a_talent__shrilly_told_by_tabloids.html

    predicted her demise – a demise taking place before the media and revealed a certain complicity in it on behalf of the tabloids, high fashion which glamorised the embodied distress of the singer – and, yes, us the buying and listening public who knew what was coming. You read this article retrospectively, unable to avoid the fact that you were told about it years ago and you get the feeling she was aided and abetted in her hurtle to the grave by so many forces from without as well as within.

    In my position, the right witchdoctor
    Might have caught you in flight with his bare hands,
    Tossed you cooling, one hand to the other,
    Godless, happy, quieted.

    Ted Hughes “The Shot”

    I wish someone had caught Amy in flight. Contrary to all the fatalism – it was certainly avoidable.

  2. Chris

    Mark – you mention mental illness, but I wonder if too much money too fast and the music lifestyle was the bigger factor. Richard Fidler did an interview of Mark Chapman (song writer/producer) and he mentioned how many good singers/bands fell apart because of the money/drugs/lifestyle.

  3. dylwah

    I just gotta say that of course we are complicit, every day we continue to support these stupid utopian drug laws, that are rooted in denial of science, that make drugs more dangerous, that make their purveyors rich that corrupt our law enforcers and turn them into the morality police.

    Vale Amy.

  4. Helen

    It was a vicious circle. Those buzzards, the paparazzi and tabloid mags/newspapers, would fall over themselves to publish the most humiliating possible pictures of Amy. That *must* have contributed to her demise. I can’t see how it couldn’t have. How could that constant, unrelenting personal public humiliation not have done so? It was part and parcel of the same mindset which hacked Milly Dowler’s phone. Bastards.

  5. Kim

    Yep.

  6. adrian

    Well said Mark, and Casey and Helen as well.

  7. Joe

    Well, I think that she just wasn’t able to make the transition into becoming an adult, basically.

    Self-medication is also just a “meme”.

    But in particular she was surely traumatised by the turn her career and public image had taken during the last 5yrs or so.

  8. VickiPS

    Without disputing the central argument I have to take issue with a couple of Mostly Snarling’s points.

    “If you’re ill, there’s not a lot that money can do to help you.” I respectfully suggest this is utter rubbish, as anyone with mental illness and addiction who has tried to get past first base in the public health system will tell you. Buying services, in Australia at any rate, is ONLY way to ensure access, however inadequate those services may be.

    The other point (and this really aggravates an already raw sensibility) is that supportive family and friends may be essential to the sufferer’s long term survival, but they are by no means sufficient. Sooner or later, loved ones reach the point where they either step back and love from a distance, or collapse under the weight of someone else’s needs. There is no substitute for owning your own problem. None at all.

  9. Casey

    “Well, I think that she just wasn’t able to make the transition into becoming an adult, basically. ”

    Did you happen to read this bit of the post?

    “There’s a gendered dimension to discussion of Winehouse’s travails. Contrast the aspersions cast on her – as if she were an uncontrollable child-woman – with the hero myth Jim Morrison was inscribed into.”

  10. Russell

    From someone with experience ……

    [broken link ~tt]

  11. Kathy

    i am just very sad that amy had no one to turn to. In our lives we can come to know that we are special, unique and the world needs someone just like you. All you have to do is let someone know you are there and that you need them to listen, laugh, dance, and share all there is about you so they will know just who you are, and some may find that they love you.

  12. Nick

    While I’m sure there is a gendered issue here, re: Jim Morrison vs. Winehouse, I suspect it’s also a factor of living in a certain age. An age with social media, the internet and an attitude towards drug taking which is vastly different to the one at Morrison’s death. If Morrison was around today he would likely be seen as a more talented Pete Doherty – the coverage of Doherty was quite similar to that of Winehouse.

  13. Fran Barlow

    No1 Son turned 27 this year, and last time we spoke, he was a little down … I suggested he come home, and he muttered something about loose ends, but at the time I was troubled. Reading of the 27 Club didn’t help.

  14. FDB

    Well said Nick. If her first and biggest hit hadn’t been Rehab, we might not even be having this conversation.

    Man, that lass had a set of pipes.

    Vale(rie) Amy.

  15. Mark Bahnisch

    Reading of the 27 Club didn’t help.

    I’m not surprised, Fran. I can’t imagine the torrent of messages about some putative connection between being 27 and death is good for a lot of people who might be vulnerable.

  16. Paladin

    Everyone seems to have assumed that Amy’s death was caused by an overdose. And while this may indeed prove to be the case, she did have other serious health issues like emphysema which may have contributed to her demise.

    That being said, I feel the the scorn and derision some are heaping on her is fueled by the misconception that fame, money and sucess should automatically mean stability and happiness. Also, a society which clamors for 24/7 celebrity coverage and whose members seek and clamor for fame for fames sake at any cost, happily cackles with glee when those who have achieved a measure of such stumble and fall. The rich and famous are given no quarter when their eccentricities and foibles cast them in a negative light and bring them problems.

    Just as alcohol doesn’t MAKE you do things, but merely releases ones inhibitions, thus exacerbating personality traits and allowing one to do things they normally wouldn’t, money, fame and fortune also magnifies personality traits whether good or bad, and simply gives the celebrity the means and opportunity to succeed or fail on a much larger scale. Amy already had issues. But once Amy Winehouse the woman became Amy Winehouse the brand and the industry, those issues were magnified in the spotlights glare and, lacking the proper support, she collapsed under the weight of her own celebrity. She became a self fullfilling prophecy of her own characture. She failed as she WAS failed.

    As the old saw says.. Be careful what you wish for…..

    Amy girl…. Rest in Peace

  17. Tintu

    I’m sorry for all of the people who loved her that she left behind, but I’m not really sorry for her as she basically lived her life off of drugs and alcohol, so my condolences to those who love her but I really can’t find it in my heart to feel any sympathy for her. Pity? Yes. Sympathy? No. Does that make me heartless?

  18. tigtog

    Does that make me heartless?

    It certainly seems to make you ignorant about mental illness. Could never happen to you because you’d just “pull yourself together”, right?

  19. Casey

    Oh you aren’t sorry for anyone Tintu, that’s just your segue into your sanctimonious judgement on those who cannot handle drinks and drugs, coated by not sorrys within the sorrys, and pity (and derision and scorn) towards a dead woman, whose demise you use to arrive the the main subject of your comment – you. No one cares if you are heartless. So, it not being about you, perhaps you might then also understand neither did the post call for a judgement on Amy Winehouse but rather raised the question (to use Camille Paglia’s term) of the dionyisian mythology enfolding the famous and the subject of mental illness.

    I love this song:

  20. BlackBall

    Tintu, if you are truly sorry for the people who loved her then please keep your outdated and amateurish views on addiction and mental illness to yourself.

  21. Fine

    Russell brand is often really impressive. I’d recommend his interview some time ago with Jeremy Paxman.

  22. Fran Barlow

    Tintu

    One of the first rules of conversation is to ask yourself whether your audience needs to hear what you have to offer. Your expressed want of sympathy for a dead person is of no use at all to the people who can hear it — the living — because there simply is no useful response available to that audience. All they can do is feel pain, if they pay attention to the remarks at all.

    With that in mind, I wonder why you spoke at all? Were you merely venting recklessly? I’m not sure you’re ‘heartless’. You’re more like the cultural equivalent of a driver who simply drives about the road on the assumption that everybody else should clear a path based on your whims. Your words seem to be mostly about your feelings rather than those of anyone feeling loss.

  23. Helen

    Tintu’s blog is rather sploggy, so I’m not quite sure if sie is able to read your responses or whether sie’s a bot of some kind.

  24. Russell

    My earlier attempt at a link was to this:

  25. Joyce McLain

    youtube killed amy whitehouse! if i had seen myself (at my worse, filmed making a drunken mess of myself) my self esteem would make it spiral more out of control, I understand her, so sorry she has pased on, but maybe to a better place.

  26. Joyce McLain

    ill miss her soulful voice