Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse, Celebrity and Personal Family History

I'm sitting here putting together another episode of GeneaBloggers Radio for this coming Friday, contemplating celebrity and the death of Amy Winehouse at age 27. Incongruous subjects, no? Not really.
This week's show will focus on preserving your own personal history and genealogy, an area which we as genealogists often forget. What legacy are you leaving for your future descendants or relatives to discover 100 or 200 years from now? Many times, along our own journey of hunting down the details of ancestors, we forget to note our own lives and what we witnessed, what we experienced.

And so to Amy Winehouse - dead at age 27. Many would say that at such a young age, someone is really too young to have a documented life. Well, except perhaps for a celebrity in our oh-too-celebrity-obsessed culture. I imagine that many of the tabloids and other media sources had already been compiling a "ready made" obituary on Winehouse when the news came of her death. And it was not unexpected that it came so soon.

What I find more disturbing is that last week 17 US military personnel gave up their lives in Iran and Afghanistan and I have difficulty finding more information about each of them. I am certain every family - military, Winehouse, those mourning their losses in Norway - all of them - are working in the midst of their grief to memorialize and create tributes to the loved ones they have lost.

Not everyone, however, will have their lives documented in the news media.   Does it seem unfair, unjust, even selfish? Well I can't blame Winehouse really, and, in fact, I am saddened by the fact that she had less control over the way history will document her life than I will, or those military families will, or the families in Norway will. Some control yes - life is fraught with choices and we often can choose our life's direction. But the celebrity machine is one that seems to run on its own perverted and twisted energy source which in my mind encourages more Winehouses and less quiet, yet still courageous and purposed, lives.

Perhaps with the recent News Corporation scandal, one can hope that once and for all we'll put away our childish toys and ways, like celebrity obsession and documenting emptiness, and begin to see "through that glass, darkly" the need to document our own lives, and the lives of those that really change history.

Image: Portrait of Amy Winehouse by Victor Heyfron M.A., via WikiMedia Commons.

© 2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Dorene from Ohio said...

So very well said, Thomas!

Anonymous said...

It is so true that not everyone that deserves a memorial is remembered, but rather just fade away like billions of dust particles in the wind. Like wise there are those representatives of man's mark of existance, either deserving or not they remind us of the human condition(s)and they make real for us all, both the beauty and the ugly we all must face. RIP everyone