The popular culture expects us all to toss grief around like rice at a wedding every time someone famous dies. But grief is not a small thing. What makes grief such a deeply felt emotion is the personal connection you have for the one who dies. To me, demanding that we all wallow in sadness over the death of a famous person is downsizing grief.
PR: What a relief it was today to notice the inundation of coverage over the death of Muhammad Ali has abated (for now anyway — the funeral will ramp it up again). I’m beginning to feel like our popular culture is responsible for downsizing grief — for cheapening it by demanding we experience it each and every time a complete stranger who happens to be famous dies.
I don’t know if you ever watched the AMC series “Mad Men,” but I loved it. I own all seven seasons and have probably watched the entire series from end to end at least a couple times since its finale last year. For those of you who don’t know, “Mad Men” is a TV show set in the 1960s that follows the lives of the people who work in a Madison Avenue Advertising Agency. The show’s plot began in the summer of 1960 and its final episodes were set in the early part of 1970. It was cleverly written, very well acted and, except for some odd anachronisms, captured the decade of the sixties beautifully.
Season 2 takes place in 1962 and the setting for the episode “Six Month Leave” is the day after Marilyn Monroe is found dead. In one scene, Roger Sterling, the president of the company, finds the office manager Joan Holloway lying on the couch in his office crying. When he asks her what’s wrong, Joan expresses her grief over Marilyn’s death. Roger says to her, “It’s a terrible tragedy, but that woman’s a stranger.”
When it comes right down to it, I’m with Roger Sterling on this one. more