Saturday, April 23, 2016

A great loss

Intense public reaction to death of Prince makes me wonder how many more such episodes we are going to have before we burn out. It seems to me that we have a potentially very large number of musicians and actors and other public figures who symbolize an important aspect of life for millions of people, any of whom could spark such a reaction.

I think it's pretty obvious that we (some significant minority) are reacting so strongly to the loss of Merle Haggard or Prince because we can gather electronically and talk to each other about our feelings. Famous musicians and actors have died since there were famous musicians and actors, and news of the loss has been pretty much instantly available for over a century. But now we get to talk together in some semblance of a conversation.

But how many times will we (some significant minority) gather and mourn the loss of some important part of our collective experience before we take it for granted that if we live long enough we will experience such losses many times?

There is one thing that really bugs me about this phenomenon. Television news is in very sad shape as I found out the last month or so. Thanks to the American election, American cable news is almost entirely focused on the horserace aspects of the campaign. The viewer is lucky to get five minutes in an hour of non-election news, and there is hardly anything about other countries. Canadian cable news is a little bit better but not much. And when in a given week just about all the nonelection "news" is about the death of a celebrity, it really shows how lazy and contemptible these "news" organizations are.

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