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04-01-2017

When the stars go out

Numerous much loved musicians, TV personalities and actors died in 2016. It is sad to see them go, but I don’t understand why people are blaming it on 2016, calling it a ‘terrible year’ and talking about the ‘curse of 2016’. Of course, this is complete nonsense. I am more afraid of 2017 for reasons I won’t go into now, but which are pretty obvious.

It is true to say that this year we have said a sad farewell to some of our favourite stars, including British comedian Ronnie Corbett, who was massively popular in the UK, renowned actor Alan Rickman, the amazing David Bowie, Gene Wilder, who gave us many a good laugh and lastly, George Michael, a brilliant songwriter and, apparently a generous man.

So is something strange going on? Apparently not. According to ecology.com, approximately 131.4 million people are born every year and 151,600 people die each day. That’s 6,316 every hour, and there are 250 births and 105 deaths each minute. The world keeps turning. The Office for National Statistics that measures deaths registered in England and Wales says that the death rate this year is three per cent higher than the five year average, but that “this is within the bounds of normal variance”.

However, these days we are saturated with information and the 24/7 media is so desperate for ‘news’ to cover that everything qualifies as news. The Queen getting a cold is headline news. A pop star getting a divorce is a huge story. So when famous people die, news channels and the internet go on a massive bonanza, picking through the deceased’s life looking for personality traits that they can exaggerate to turn them into saints or to vilify them. The hype goes on and on, so it’s no surprise that people are getting the feeling that their beloved idols are dropping dead every five minutes.

Importantly, there is the fact that you don’t need to do very much at all to become a celebrity with Social Media and a thousand and one TV channels. Reality shows transform nobodies into famous faces, so there are more people in our line of sight and, obviously, more people to die in the public eye.

Some people think that this generation of pop stars may be dying young because of their former rock and roll lifestyles and misspent youth. David Bowie and George Michael both experimented with ‘substances’. Then there is the fact that our pop stars are coming into their 60s and 70s, and according to a 2014 survey in Australia, rock and pop stars die 25 years younger than average.

Whatever the reason, let’s hope this apparent trend ‘dies out’ and our beloved stars stick around for a while longer. And to the ones who have gone… we’ll remember you with affection.

Juliet Allaway

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