Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Am I a callous prick or is it a sense of perspective?

There was a story which started off on the wrestling websites, made it to fark and then to the mainstream media. It seems that a popular actor/entertainer in the WWE by the name of Benoit has died along with his wife and seven year old. At first the wire services wouldn't touch it. It might have been a publicity stunt by the wrestling industry. Nobody wanted to be the first dupe.

It seems that the report was real. Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their son Daniel really are dead, and the police are treating it as a murder-suicide. Investigations continue, but they're working from the hypothesis that he killed the woman and child over the weekend and himself today.

This is a tragedy. No doubt about it. I'm certainly sorry for the needless deaths of his wife and seven year old. I'm reserving judgement about the man himself. If he did the crime he deserves nothing more and nothing less than any other man who murders his family which is to say the thin end of nothing whittled down to a point. What disturbs me is the reaction of a number of people on tha Intrawebs. This sort of thing happens every day to people in their communities, sometimes people who they knew personally. Those deaths raise not a tear. But let someone who has been on television and played a popular character be the centerpiece of such an event and it's a cause for all sorts of mourning and grief. And according to some of them I'm seven separate sorts of soulless shitheel for treating these celebrity deaths with the same sort of measured regret that I do in all such cases.

These were not people I knew. I know nobody in their families. Their lives didn't touch mine, and mine didn't touch theirs. The fact that they were on television means somewhat less than nothing to me. Is there any reason why their passing should have more impact than that of humbler people who met the same sort of fate?

I think not. If you don't value those closer to you than complete strangers your love and sympathy aren't worth much. If you're deeply affected by every bad thing that happens you can't function. And if an industry creation - an acting persona - is a good reason to treat a death with particular concern, then a portion of your soul has been branded, bought and sold.