Death is not the opposite to life but a part of it – Haruki Murakami
Disclaimer: I’m writing with a lot of emotion right now so if you see a mistake or this is incoherent I’m really sorry.
To all my readers, I hope you’re having a good week so far. I’m just writing today from a position of shock and pain. Following the deaths of NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester and the pilot Ara Zobayan, Twitter has been in a state of mourning.
No – I’m not a massive fan of basketball but I’ve always been surrounded by them and so I have slight insight into the sport and knew how much of a big deal Kobe was. There are basketball players playing right now who have modelled their careers off of him and I doubt that will stop any time soon. He is a legend – I say is because even though he has passed away, his influence in sports will never be forgotten.
But this post isn’t necessarily a memorial. It’s a critique of society and what we’ve become as a result of social media and how the recent behaviour demonstrates why some celebrities have completely closed themselves off from us.
Social Media and Media Outlets
I don’t know where you all were when you heard the news but I had just woken up from a nap. I thought the whole thing was a practical joke. I tried to call my person who lives and breathes basketball but he was also asleep. So I kept scrolling and almost instantly broke down.
Now I’ve never ever met Kobe Bryant or any of the other victims on the helicopter. But imagine being his wife and suddenly being hit with RIP messages way before you’ve been officially informed that both the love of your life and your daughter are dead.
The reduction of human death to quick gossip to be spread in a matter of seconds on Twitter with a couple of hashtags by the likes of TMZ, FOX and ABC. To make matter even worse, all three got initial reports wrong and put the TL in complete confusion. How scary must that have been for Vanessa?
Then we have the BBC… Jesus be my strength and my shield. The display of institutional racism from the BBC as they confused Lebron and Kobe was unsurprising yet something embarrassing. HUH
Worse still the minor (MAJOR) hiccup from a reporter from an American broadcaster… saying the word “NIGGERS” then tryna give us some bull crap about “i said Nakers”.
AND to make it EVEN worse there are now media outlets sharing information about how the family grieves. That information shouldn’t even be available to us? MASSIVE and I mean MASSIVE law suits need to be thrown all over the place. What the hell?! Why did Lebron who states clearly that he’s not ready, feel pressured to release a statement? Why on earth are people bombarding him with dms to say something? Give people time to process! This isn’t cheap gossip – this is people’s lives.
Finally, the NBA forcing men to play upon hearing the news that their former, teammate, brother, mentor, inspiration has passed is absolutely sick. No one should have to play in those conditions but capitalism – money affi mek right?
What have we as a species become? People are just pawns to be pushed around by the media, capitalist organisations and the public? What a disgrace.
The Deification of Celebrities
Celebrities are treated as if they are gods amongst us and are judged by their every move. Their happiness, their love lives, their grief, their children are all torn apart as gossip for public consumption. Their emotions and pain as well as the reality of the human condition. Then, we mourn or condemn them when they end up depressed, dead, addicted to illicit substances or like Beyoncé, close themselves and their families up from the rest of the world. It’s crazy. Social media gives us way too much continuous access to parts of people’s lives that aren’t our business and then we live under the delusion that we are entitled to know and pick apart all of that information. Who died and named you omniscient king? Sports and the arts have been reduced to the personas of the individuals rather than their talents and because their every move is followed they now have to be beacons of positivity. I’m not promoting bad behaviour but that responsibility shouldn’t be thrust on someone just because we want them to constantly be on our TVs. Being a celebrity must be exhausting: you must support every movement, be politically correct at all times, be super careful that you don’t upset any of the many intersections your fans may fall under and still try to maintain your talent, performances, mental health and family. Bruv – just give me money. I fully don’t want fame.
Whenever someone famous dies people come up with the most ridiculous things ever. Here are some I’ve seen this week and why they are stupid:
1. “You didn’t support or care about them when they were alive. Don’t pretend to care now that they’re dead.”
“You never listened to their music”
“You don’t even watch basketball”
I get it – I do. People need to be celebrated whilst they are alive. I’ve seen people being torn down during their lifetimes then mourned when they are dead so I understand why you would say that. But… this is Kobe Bryant we’re talking about… also the public doesn’t always have the access to constantly show love to celebrities. In terms of the “You didn’t listen to/watch what they did when they were alive” – so what? It’s literally just human to feel pain when someone dies or express some sort of empathy. Surely social media hasn’t taken that away from us? Basic human decency?
2. “You live in the UK don’t pretend to be upset”
Lol? Looooooool? This one spun me because I was thinking how can you be so dumb? That’s like saying you live in the UK so you don’t know who Beyoncé is lol negro what? Don’t tell people how much or how little they should mourn? Secondly, there are serious basketball fans in the UK. So assuming that because YOU know nothing about the sport everyone else doesn’t either makes you a foolish goat – I’m sorry.
3. “I had a dream”
“He was having an incestuous relationship with his 13 year old daughter so God killed him”
Somebody hold my wig. Just because Martin and Kendrick had dreams everyone is now dreaming. Please shut up. We don’t care that you had a vision. Families have been spilt up and completely destroyed and the best you can do is tell us you had a dream that Kobe was sleeping with his daughter? So why did two other families and the pilot die??? Buzoba.
4. “He weren’t even that great”
Bryant won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, was named the 2008 NBA MVP, was a two time NBA Finals MVP winner and a 2-time Olympic Champion.
5. “It’s a conspiracy. The government/NBA killed him.”
You see you Umar Johnson disciples – bonkers. Absolutely barking mad. Even if that was the case – you people can’t give his time family a beat to mourn before you start doing NAACP CSI investigations????? Lemme even insert the video so you can scream with me
6. Black women complaining that Kobe’s non black wife is getting his money
Who did you want him to give it to….? Not everything is about us. Not every moment is appropriate for a social justice campaign. Just shut up.
EDIT (I forgot this one): 7. “Syrians and gang members die everyday but you don’t say anything”
How are these two the same as a random freak accident and who says we don’t talk about them?
I’m gonna stop there because I can only take so much crazy before I become mad myself.
I don’t even know what to say at this point. When I received the news I was just shocked and in pain. Now I’m also confused, disgusted, embarrassed and ashamed to be human. We can be so much better – we can treat each other so much better. It scares me that we’re in the age of progression and advancements yet somehow we’re regressing in terms of how we treat each other. We’ve lost respect for the dead, we’ve lost respect for the living. I just don’t know where to place myself anymore in a world so consumed with spreading everyone’s business and making money as quickly as possible.
I’m not really sure how to even conclude but next time someone of influence or even anyone passes away – treat them and their family with respect. Give families the time and space to mourn. And do not spread the crazy theories and crap people are saying about the deceased.
Nipsey, XXXtentation, Mac Miller, Kobe Bryant are just a few instances where I’ve seen this happen – where do we draw the line???
Man this week has been a mess but stay blessed and make every living moment count.
Until the next one ❤️