Social Question

OpryLeigh's avatar

Would they be quite so judgemental if it was their child/loved one?

Asked by OpryLeigh (25251points) July 25th, 2011

Since Amy Winehouse’s death my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with hateful comments about the singer. How she “bought it upon herself”, “she deserved it”, “she is better of where she is as she was a f***ing waster” etc etc. The strange thing is, I noticed that the large majority of people making these comments have children and I couldn’t help but wonder if they would be quite so spiteful/judgemental if it was their own child. I was saddened to see that even my Aunt made a bitchy comment about Winehouse “deserving everything she got”. Has she forgotten that Amy had a family that loved her as much as my Aunt loves her own sons?

People seem to lose compassion when a death such as this isn’t so close to home.

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43 Answers

ucme's avatar

Yeah, the vultures will circle & feast on their prey. Shut up already!

Blackberry's avatar

Saying she did it to herself isn’t mean, unless you’re particularly sensitive. I don’t do drugs for a reason, and when I need help, I usually ask for it, because I care about myself. She had opportunities to help herself.

I should also add that I wasn’t one of those people that made jokes. Shit happens, I’m just not a fan of feeling sorry for every single person.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

The recent passing of Ryan Dunn highlighted this issue for me. I happen to know the family, and seeing the things that people were posting about him being an idiot, about him bringing it on himself.. etc etc… really hurt them.
I agree that there were some foolish decisions made, the most costly decisions that either of these young people would ever make… but they have families. They are people before they are celebrities.
I think we are too desensitized as a culture.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Wow, I’ve actually seen much less of that than I expected, mostly I’ve seen comments expressing compassion for her family, and mentioning how sad the whole situation was.

Blackberry's avatar

@JilltheTooth Me too. I’ve seen comments pretty much saying “She was a great artist, too bad she got mixed up in this”.

janbb's avatar

This article by the actor Russell Brand is both a lovely tribute to her and a plea for better treatment for addicts. Worth reading.

MacBatman31's avatar

Many people in today’s society don’t care about a death unless the death hits close to home. Unfortunately peope think that because someone uses or has tried drugs, and because someone leads a lifestyle less conservative than others, that they get what is “coming to them.”
Personally I was not a fan of Amy, but I do feel bad for her family and loved ones. What if they take some of the blame for this? Hypothetically, they could be thinking that if they would have done more to help her with her struggles, she would still be here, living, and entertaining.
I feel saying, “she got what she deserved,” is really harsh, and people need to think that if it was their son or daugher in Amy’s situation, what would they say? It’s safe to say that they won’t think their son or daughter “got what they deserved.”
Maybe many people don’t agree with the lifestyle choice of Amy, but when it comes down to it, she was a human, with a family, and she did have a right to lead her life the way she felt she wanted to. So, R.I.P. Amy- you will be missed.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Blackberry I am certainly not oversensitive when it comes to others comments about whatever may be happening in the world, especially when the comments are on Facebook but @ANef_is_Enuf summed my thoughts on this up perfectly.

@JilltheTooth Strangely, the nicer comments I have noticed on my newsfeed all seem to be from friends across the pond. It is the British that seem to write all the “waster deserved it” comments.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@MacBatman31 I feel so sorry for Amy’s dad who did seem to be trying to help her get well.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Leanne1986 : Nice to see that every once in a while we Yanks don’t win the Most Crass Award.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JilltheTooth isn’t that the truth!

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JilltheTooth I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You yanks are some of the most loveable people I have ever met!

Jeruba's avatar

Addiction is a disease that no one wants to have. The good news is that you can overcome it yourself. The bad news is that you have to overcome it yourself.

MacBatman31's avatar

@Leanne1986 So true! Not only in the “celebrity world,” but I have seen these kinds of things in my own home town, and some people are completely insensitive about the situation. Death by drugs, alcohol, or any death by that matter should not be written off as “deserved.” There are families involved that are going to feel pain, and I feel those are people who need to be consoled, not told that their father/mother/son/daughter/etc. deserved it.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Jeruba Maybe this type of death upsets me more because of my own mother’s battle with anorexia which is similar to addiction in that you have to be willing to fight it yourself before you can overcome it. I heard plenty of people at the time say that they had no sympathy because she was “deliberately starving herself”.

YARNLADY's avatar

People who self-destruct are always subject to gossip. It doesn’t really matter whether if is your own loved one or someone else, that they they refused to accept intervention is still a fact.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@YARNLADY : When you say ”…that they refused to accept intervention…” it makes it sound like they thought of the consequences and deliberately declined help. It doesn’t quite work that way. You’re very fortunate if you’ve never lost a loved one to addiction, and if you have, I hope you were more compassionate than your words would suggest.

Blueroses's avatar

The late, great Mitch Hedberg had a comment about addiction. Alcoholism (addiction) is a disease, but it’s the only disease you get blamed for having. Nobody says, “Dammit, Otto! You have lupus!”

There’s a reason we celebrate the achievements of those people who are able to overcome these difficult demons. We reward them for their conviction and bravery. It seems sorely lacking in humanity to condemn the ones who don’t make it through. My heart breaks for anybody who has to watch a loved one struggle with addiction. Not all survive.

tom_g's avatar

Here I go again. I’m going to get sh*t for this one.

I don’t get the whole thing. I don’t understand the celebrity worship that ends up either vilifying or celebrating someone we don’t know. Some people liked her music. These people will most likely be disappointed because she will not be recording any more music. They also probably identify with Amy Winehouse the performer, so they are trying to understand how this could happen, etc. For the rest of us – how does it warrant any more than a “oh”?

For us non-fans, how does Winehouse’s death make its way into our life so much that we’re able to form opinions about her and the death? How do we know enough about Amy Winehouse that we can judge her positively or negatively?

What kind of culture embraces or celebrates uninformed opinion about someone? The most “respectful” approach, in my not-so-humble opinion, is to acknowledge the complexity of human life. I hope that she has people who truly knew her and cared about her. It’s their job to truly mourn her loss, and to form opinions about the way she lived and died. Not me.

flutherother's avatar

I haven’t heard any negative comments about her. People are shocked that she has gone.

CaptainHarley's avatar

No, they would not be nearly as condemnatory as they are now if it were their child who died. Part of the reason for this, I would imagine, is that when something like this happens to someone quite a number of young people look up to, parents become scared that it COULD be their children next.

Cruiser's avatar

I think most of these spiteful comments are directed to the cartoon presentation of a wasted celebrity life. It is bad enough when ordinary people get caught up in addictions but when someone who has it all just says fuck it all and then some….hard to shed a tear from that perspective. I have lost a few close relatives and friends and the tears that flow are for the survivors who had to put up with all the BS lies and deception.

CaptainHarley's avatar


There is truth in your words.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I defended Ebert against his critics because I thought that what he did was mild and what his critics did was disproportionate. Criticism of Amy Winehouse, however, has always seemed a bit over the top to me. This site has always seemed to be in bad taste, for instance, and I don’t think the way it’s owners have responded to her death is sincere.

When asking “what if it was your child,” however, we need to ask why we think that question is relevant. Parents are biased towards their children; they’re supposed to be (within reason), and we’d think there was something wrong with them if they didn’t value their own children more than the children of a stranger (ceteris paribus).

This means, however, that asking “what if it was your child” is a request that someone be less objective when considering a situation. No, people would not be as judgmental if it was their child or loved one who died. That doesn’t mean that the opinion based on parental bias is to be more trusted than the one not based on parental bias.

Note, however, that I do not call the latter opinion “unbiased.” The more venomous responses to Amy Winehouse’s death seem to exhibit every sign of people taking an immoderate pleasure from the tragedy of another for the sake of their own self-satisfaction. This is hardly a commendable or even an objective take on the situation.

In the end, I find the point made by @ANef_is_Enuf to be more important: the real tragedy of death befalls the survivors, and their feelings should be kept in mind when commenting on the events in question. I do not think this means remaining silent or completely uncritical, as my defense of Ebert shows; but it does mean refraining from the purely gratuitous viciousness and schadenfreude some people have been indulging in these last two days.

cletrans2col's avatar

@tom_g I think you’re completely on point here. Media coverage of these people forces us to have opinions on these people. How many times have you watched the cable news networks and they reported on her exploits, or a celebrity marriage ending, or the next move that Casey Anthony makes? I don’t care about the personal lives of the rich and famous, just as long as their actions don’t fuck with my family, friends or other innocent people.

stardust's avatar

I completely agree that society has become completely desensitized and it seems as though the value placed on life is becoming less and less.
In the end, we’re all human beings and we all face various hurdles throughout our lifetime – people perceive and deal with life events differently and nobody is in a position to judge another unless they’ve walked in that persons shoes.
@tom_g GA

Meego's avatar

I am thinking if any one person is making a negative comment that maybe that person doesnt really understand what addiction is.

Not all addicts go into addiction not caring about their life or what can be potentially afflicted by it. Yes in fact their action in that very moment is quite self centred but afterwards the lifestyle is a product of the drug.

I think it has a lot to do with how we are raised and even more our personalities because those 2 things shape us into who we are.

It wasn’t the addict (or maybe it was lol) who decided we could live much better in a manufactured technologically advanced lifestyle….not that there’s anything wrong with that ;D seems like the more we advance, the more ways there is to die and I thought we were doing all these things to live longer :/

Death is awful no matter what. She just couldn’t keep her hands out off of the brown sugar, death is the ultimate price doesn’t mean she deserved it.

atomicmonkey's avatar

It’s easy to be callous online – especially where celebrities are concerned. They have big houses and fancy clothes and big hair and we like to have opinions about these things because we know them better than anyone.

I think it’s sad that she got herself addicted to every drug ever and that she died like that. That’s about all I feel about it: “Oh, that’s a bit sad,” seeing as I didn’t know her.

Anyone who has a strong opinion one way of the other, and feels compelled to broadcast it online is really just telling everybody something about themselves.
“I hate junkies and losers because I am a badass with opinions!”
“Look! I have empathy for strangers! I am nice.”

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Is there a benefit in speaking poorly of the dead? If so, I haven’t seen it. And really, the same goes for the living as well. I feel sorry for young Justin Bieber. Some of the hateful, scathing comments posted about him are just shameful. He must be a strong kid.

Pandora's avatar

I think a lot of people are jealous of people who seem to have it all and are quick to remember their failures rather than their successes because it makes them feel less of a failure in their lives.
Then there are the people who may have dealt with drug addicts and have no compassion for them when they overdose because they may have been a victim of them.
Then there are the people who feel no compassion for suicides and refuse to shed a tear for someone who has recklessy taken their lives because they thought drugs was all fun and games.
Lastly there are those who just like to gossip about anything, no matter if they know the truth or not because it makes them feel important.
I’m sure many of these people never really stop to consider how the parents or aunts or uncles or siblings or friend feel.
@Pied_Pfeffer I agree. I feel sorry for that young kid. His self esteem is still fragile at his age. Any adult would have a hard time. It is a shame people never remember they are talking garbage about another human being who is simply trying to make a living for himself.

linguaphile's avatar

I’m sure there are drunk drivers crashing into trees and dying every night, but we don’t hear about it because they’re anonymous. It’s the same with drug users dying every day, maybe even every hour, but they’re anonymous.

I’m not sure if it’s better to die anonymously, with only your family grieving your passing, having the privacy of your ‘demons’ dying with you, and your family be allowed to move on without much judgment. Or… being a celebrity and having to dance with your demons everyday in public scrutiny, and when you die, your family catches whatever’s thrown at them from the rest of the world. I’m thinking of Heath, David Carradine, Michael Hutchence, etc..

But, but, but…. why is Amy’s death a “she got what she deserved” spit-fest (in some areas), but Michael Jackson’s death (probably from the same cause) a day of national mourning?

To quote FPCB… “Seriously. Humans fail so hard at logic.”

Buttonstc's avatar


That’s an excellent Q in your last paragraph and I’ll take a guess at what might have been a contributing factor.

But just to be clear, I’m not in agreement with those hateful comments (my family has been heavily and tragically affected by addiction of both Mother and Brother).

Yes, MJ had a similar cause of death. But one difference is that he didn’t defiantly celebrate his addiction.

Just a few years ago Amy had a huge hit and made a boatload of money with the song “Rehab” which she wrote herself.

The lyrics, in part, proclaim “they tried to make me go to Rehab. I said no no no…I ain’t
got the time…there’s nothing you can teach me…” etc. It was being sung everywhere. There was no escaping it. It won three Grammys and the subsequent money undoubtedly helped fuel her addiction even more.

It’s a vicious circle because doubtless some of the same writers of those hate filled messages were the same ones buying the album and humming the tune.

Talk about unfortunate irony.

Meego's avatar

Talk about the dance of demons. Whether it’s a private affair or a public affair I think the demons will still dance upon the death of one reigned in by addiction.

Bellatrix's avatar

I agree totally with you @Leanne1986. Regardless of the mistakes she made, she was a young woman who died too young and as you say, had a family and friends who loved her.

I don’t understand why people seem to think it is okay to say such things as “she deserved it” etc. Any of our children or another member of our family could end up addicted to some sort of substance. I fervently hope none of my children ever take drugs or become addicted to any sort of substance but it happens. My sister was an alcoholic and I saw her drink herself into ill health. She didn’t die directly because of her drinking, but it certainly didn’t help and probably contributed. We never know what lays in stall for our children or those we love. As @Wundayatta said, A. W. could have had mental health issues or other problems we are unaware of.

Aethelwine's avatar

I didn’t see one bad word on my Facebook about Amy, and look at all the people coming to her defense here. My Facebook news feed was littered with Winehouse videos the day she passed.

I do find it interesting how people pick and choose when to say nice things about a young celebrity who passes at a young age. We mourn those we take an interest in I guess. Others here have mentioned Ryan Dunn’s recent death. The majority of Fluther wasn’t so kind with their words for him. :/

cletrans2col's avatar

@jonsblond Ryan Dunn’s recklessness could have killed other innocents; Winehouse’s recklessness killed herself. there is the difference.

Aethelwine's avatar

@cletrans2col Yeah, drug users never cause accidents. {rolls eyes}

Meego's avatar

@cletrans2col Alcohol is also an addiction, it does more likely kill innocents.

On the other hand think about how many people who use needles just leave those lying around.

It goes both ways. Innocents are harmed no matter what the addiction. And actually sometimes it doesn’t really matter who sets the events rolling, when it’s your time you don’t get a choice, no matter how much it hurts anyone who out-live the dead. I’ve seen people live thru the most unexplained things because it was not their time.

We may have a birthdate but don’t have an expiration date unfortunately.

I’d have to agree with @jonsblond on this one.

cletrans2col's avatar

@jonsblond I didn’t say that.

Aethelwine's avatar

@cletrans2col I didn’t say you did.. (?) I understand what you said. My point is, we can’t bad mouth Amy Winehouse because she had a drug addiction, but it’s ok to badmouth someone who may have had an alcohol addiction? Why is one addiction accepted over another? As I said in my first post, we mourn those we take an interest in, anyone else is ok to badmouth (or so it seems). I’m sure if Amy Winehouse had killed herself while driving drunk, there would still be less hatred than there was for Ryan Dunn. Why? Because she has a Grammy and isn’t just a plain old Jackass stunt person.

martianspringtime's avatar

People love to swoop in and criticize anything that displays a person’s flaws, especially if they are flaws that they’re unlikely to find in themselves. Of course it’s easy for someone to say that a famous addict “brought it on herself” when you’ve never struggled with addiction, especially in the limelight. It probably makes them feel superior and even safer to say “Well I would never die from that so she must be a fool to.”
The same thing with Michael Jackson’s death, and countless others. Celebrities don’t deserve special attention for their problems, but I don’t think they deserve nasty comments that someone wouldn’t make about someone they knew.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I do not know what type of life she lived but I am sure others knew better, be it personally or through the media. No one deserve to die, they say everyone has their date when their number is up, but I do truly believe you can many punch their ticket early. If she had been a nobody or not famous would she have ended the way she ended, who knows? We all are judgmental of someone, even on a small scale; by their beliefs, their sexual appetites, their business savvy, etc. Those people who thought harsh of her maybe done so because she had a golden opportunity but let personal enjoyments rob her of it, and all the music people were looking to receive in the future. Would I use the words they used if that was my kid, many not, but I would surely judge harshly. I would have to judge myself first because it meant I was not effective enough to instill common sense into her to steer clear of that chemical dependencies and dangers.

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