The Mourning Protocol

The Mourning Protocol

It’s been a funny year so far, (no, not funny ha ha), the world losing an eerily high number of influential and dare I say iconic entertainers. Whilst all are unfortunate and many untimely, I can’t say I’ve been personally compelled to express any sort of remorse into cyberspace. No, none have affected me as the death of the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Ah yes, Prince died this week. (that’s me, finger-on- the-pulse. You’re welcome. Eat your heart out TMZ.) This is sad, shocking and in no uncertain terms a bit of a bummer. No, I’m not weeping in my Wheaties, but still it’s worthy of a word.

Upon hearing the news there I was, with the rest of the world straight to my antique iPhone 4, quick with a witty, soon-to-be-bludgeoned-to-death pun about crying doves and to my ever lasting shame…. typed ‘RIP’ in my comment box. Really? REALLY? RIP?? Euurrghh… Why? WHY did I do this? How I loathe myself. All the same special dispensation was afforded to the Purple One Himself because he was pretty amazing. He was, to use a label slapped far too generously on many a less worthy recipient, an icon in every sense of the word, an inimitable musical maverick leaving the majority of today’s ‘recording artists’ in the dust for talent, magnetism and untouchable star power. For all his plaudits and infinite tributes, put most simply, Prince’s music just makes you want to move. His are the mood-transforming go-to party tunes that NEVER tire.  In a hundred years time his will be the music we classify as Classical in its most literal sense. This and as we’re learning a keen philanthropist to boot, it’s clear the world’s lost someone pretty special. That’s my two cents, for what they’re probably not worth.


Sadly, this year we’ve been spoiled for choice when it comes to how and whom we commemorate, and that’s before wading into the politically-charged waters of global conflict and other heinous acts of mass murder perpetrated on a multitude of nameless innocent victims. The internet allows and encourages us to be selective sympathisers, standing shoulder to shoulder with some, but not others. This sits uneasily with me.

Thus I tend to avoid public mourning and social media. I understand many like to pay their respect in this manner, but like flats with bootleg jeans, the two just don’t mix in my book. I find the superficial and anodyne platforms of Twitter, Facebook et al just a tad inappropriate to express our deepest regrets. It’s a bit unseemly, hollow, not a little insincere and unashamedly bandwagon-y. I’m not comfortable engaging in sheep-mentality sorrow for a person I never knew. It’s needy and attentions-seeking. I wonder who are these people bawling in the streets? Please. Pull yourself together. And in so the spirit of every good hypocrite, I can’t help but watch with cringeworthy disdain at all the internet meme and celebrity impostors becoming competitive mourners looking to pay tribute after affected tribute whilst simultaneously shouting ‘Look at ME! Look at ME!’ Cue every A-to-Z lister chomping at the bit to share their respective anecdotes, some erstwhile unspoken strong connection or long buried secret affair, etc etc yadda yadda. It’s just a little tacky. Chevrolet even took out a full page ad of a vintage red Corvette tagged with another pithy pun on his lyrics. (Yes, yes, I know. Pot meet kettle.) I can’t decide if it’s touching or grotesque. There’s a fine line between appropriate reflection and sympathy to absurdly disproportionate mourning verging on the exploitative. How far do we go? How much is too much?

With 24/7 media we like to feel we know these celebrities, but we don’t. Invariably it’s those with most reason to mourn who do so privately without need to broadcast their emotional turmoil by sharing it on Snapchat. Strange as it may sound, if they do so quietly, then what right have I to chime in with my regrets?

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