"When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone." - Russell Brand
I've had a difficult relationship with the differing reactions to the deeply tragic death of the singer, Amy Winehouse, who was found dead in her north London apartment yesterday at the age of twenty-seven. On the one hand, part of me is irritated and a little repulsed by the outpouring of mawkish, over-the-top sentiment that's predictably exploded over Facebook on the same day when news that ninety-seven people have been slaughtered by a mentally deranged terrorist in Norway is going more or less unremarked upon. Alright, you could certainly argue that Amy Winehouse's voice, talent and music meant people felt a connection to her that they just don't feel to the young people whose youth summer scheme on an island off the coast of the kingdom of Norway was turned into a terrifying bloodbath. But even so, to be moved to hysterical outpourings at the news about Amy Winehouse and then to not even pay tribute to the horror in Norway seems tasteless and thoughtless.
But on the other hand, Amy Winehouse's death is a tragedy and had people reacted in a way which showed at least a general awareness that another tragedy had occurred on the same day in another country, I'd have absolutely no problem with her fans and admirers expressing their genuine sorrow that such a gifted young woman came to such a premature and unnecessary end. I'm irritated and upset by the lack of mention for Norway, but I also understand people's need to express their sadness that the life of someone whose art brought joy into their lives has passed away.
What I can't understand are the Facebook statuses and groups which mention her death in a negative way. You know the ones I'm talking about already. The ones which turn her death into a joke less than twenty-four hours after it happened and the ones who, to quote my friend Pamela Mills, have completely forgotten that Amy Winehouse was somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, somebody's friend. Even worse are the ones which climb on their metaphorical soapbox to proclaim that somehow she "deserved" her death because she was a drug addict who had failed rehab and failed to kick her habit.
Addiction is a disease. Yes, undoubtedly people could and should say that the story of Amy Winehouse is a frightening modern morality tale of a young girl who was caught up in an environment which actually praised permanent hard-core drug use and shunned the very idea of rehab as pathetic, even laughable - as her most famous song proclaimed. But to say that Amy Winehouse was therefore deserving of her death is only marginally more disgusting than it is idiotic. Gifted, troubled, haunting, pitied and admired, what happened to Amy Winehouse was a very, very sad story.
The actor and comedian, Russell Brand, who knew Amy Winehouse through a mutual set of friends, has written a moving tribute to her and her death. And thanks to my friend Robbie for passing it on. For the full article, which I really recommend, click here.