Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Death of Celebrities and Fictional Characters

Thanks to The Secret Life of Us, I've had to endure the death of another fictional Australian.

Evan talks about death in one of his voice-overs. Alex was right. Two-hundred people can die in a flood in India. Six people can die in a mine collapse in South Australia. And what does it mean? Not much. But a friend disappears and suddenly it's different.

I think that's very true. At least for me it is. What makes me feel like a failed human sometimes, is I could also replace the word friend with "celebrity" and "Fictional character".

When I hear of mass tragedy on the news, I mourn on an intellectual level. But in my heart, there's coldness. There's no correlation between the number of deaths and how sad I feel.

What makes me feel worse? The death of a six million Jews in the Holocaust or Anne Frank's one death?

It's definitely Anne Frank.

My brain knows it's a tragedy that children died in Gaza, but I feel nothing for them and their families. But let me into one one family's story. Tell me what they were like before the current fighting. Tell me what the child used to like to play, their favorite food, and the family's bedtime rituals. Then I will feel sadness.

I felt more sadness for the death of Fictional Patrick and fictional Lou than I feel for victims of genocide, airline crashes, and earthquakes. They're not real people, but they feel real. Numbers don't.

Sometimes we're given names and shown photographs. I guess that's supposed to make it feel more real. But it doesn't usually work for me. They're still strangers.

I guess the thing about fictional characters and celebrities is that while we're strangers to them, they're not strangers to us. We know them and sometimes love them. Not as friends, but as...something.  

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