If you haven’t read this article by Russell Brand in the Guardian, you need to. It’s overwhelmingly moving and it says a lot of things that many people are afraid to put into words. I really do like Russell Brand a lot – I think he’s kind of nutty, but when he has to be serious, he’s quite intelligent and says some really meaningful things.
And honestly, I’ve read some really crass and offensive comments about Amy’s death today, and I’ve overheard some really, truly horrible things. I don’t know what possesses people to think it’s ok to say horrible things about anyone, especially someone who’s dead. I’m no saint, I know, but I can’t imagine what makes someone think it’s ok to treat her death as unimportant.
Her death is very important. While no proof has yet come forth that she died of an overdose, it is possible. Amy was an extreme victim of addiction, made very clear in both her personal and professional life. It is time that addiction is treated as the illness that it is, rather than as something a person does to him- or herself. Addiction is a real problem that many, many people suffer from, often untreated. Amy was trying to get help, but obviously had a hard road to travel and many obstacles to overcome. When her death is treated as unimportant and is so clearly victim-blaming, it only promotes the idea that addiction isn’t real and that addicts should be able to just get over their problems. This is not true. Frequently, addicts are only able to recover through rehabilitation of some variety, and it is time that we started recognizing that.
It may be true that she died of a substance-abuse overdose. It may even be probable, I’ll be the first to admit that. But the cause of death is still unexplained. Need we talk about Brittany Murphy’s tragic death, in which a lifetime of hidden medical problems combined with a history of an eating disorder and other lifestyle choices added up to another talented and beautiful woman going before her time?
And I’m really, really tired of hearing that people should be more concerned with what’s happening in Norway than with a “stupid, druggie dead pop star.” Because you know what, tragedy is tragedy and death is death, and it isn’t more sad because of any one factor. It’s not probable that all of those who unfortunately lost their lives in Norway were angels, either. Please don’t think I’m snarking on the dead, because that is not my intent – I am just offended that anyone would assume that one death is unimportant.
Amy did have a lot of problems. That’s true. But she was very beautiful, very talented, and a constant victim of addiction. I don’t know about you, but I knew (and still now, know) a lot of young people who would identify with that. She may not have been an ideal role model, in many minds, but there are very few people like Amy Winehouse. It is not going to encourage anyone who looked up to her if she is publicly shamed like she has been for the past decade.
It’s time to recognize addiction as the illness that it is, and to start taking steps to prevent further deaths.
To quote Russell Brand, “Either way, there will be a phone call.”