Saturday, August 22, 2009

People who read People

Was looking at an old People Magazine Special Edition called Gone Too Soon and it seemed to me that it embodied quite a bit of what is wrong with our present culture. It's premise was to identify 65 celebrities who died far too young. It listed various categories of personality: People's Covers from '74-07 (a 33 year period), Entertainers, Musicians and Athletes.

The names listed were:
John Lennon, John Belushi, Princess Grace, Jessica Savitch, Karen Carpenter, Rick Nelson, Christa McAuliffe, Andy Gibb, Rebecca Schaeffer,Ryan White, Gilda Radner, Jim Henson, River Phoenix, John Candy, Kurt Cobain, Elizabeth Glaser, Selena, Jerry Garcia, Margeaux Hemmingway, Jonbenet Ramsey, Gianni Versace, Princess Diana, John Denver, Phil Hartman, Dana Plato, JFK Jr., John Ritter, Christopher & Dana Reeve, Steve Irwin, Anna Nicole Smith, Freddie Prinze, Brad Davis, Jon-Erik Hexum, Brandon Lee, Heather O'Rourke, Michael O'Donoghue, Alexander Gudunov, Chris Farley, David Strickland, Charlotte Coleman, Josh Ryan Evans, Robert Pastorelli, Matthew McGrory, Chris Penn, Elvis, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Freddie Mercury, TUPAC Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Michael Hutchence, Paula Yates, Rob Pilatus, Wendy O. Williams, Aaliyah, Lisa Lopes, Luther Vandross, Sergi Grinkov, Payne Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, Cory Lidle & Keiko (the Orca from Free Willy).
Now I'm pretty sure there are people on this list that everyone who reads it will say were talented, enjoyable to listen to or to watch perform, admirable people who did die "before their time". I've long enjoyed the performances of several of them myself. But, that's NOT my point. It is, I suppose, rather: "What did they do for the greater good? How did they really make this a better world?" I was struck by the lack of names which could fit that category; names whose shortened lives could be considered as suitable to be admired or emulated. A few of the folks above are bolded, people I suppose do meet the requirements. I count by my very liberal interpretation of that definition 10 names; though truthfully, I'd rule out at least 4 of them.

Even at that, 10/65 is equal to a percentage of 15.384. When I went to school (before do-overs) failing was anything below 60%. Obviously I don't think People got it right. And since People is considered an icon of our society, I must believe society is failing in its message, likewise. From the past third of a Century, I could pull up a mile long list of folks that would better fit the definition of dying "too soon" but each can do that for themselves in their own retrospective.

It has long appeared to me that entertainment has become our new god and its stars our "lesser gods".

"May G_D have mercy on the soul of our present day society."


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