Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amy Winehouse: A Passion Plays Out

Amy Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011): her short, snuffed-out life was painful to watch, a public Passion Play: jeered at, cheered at, derided,
praised, rebuked, lauded, accused, acclaimed: hers was a short life of brilliant and blazing contrasts. She was the victim not only of the drugs she took, but of the media that we as a society feed off of, similarly, symbiotically, like a drug. 

The death of Amy Winehouse shines as much light on our prurient selves as it does on the life of this bedraggled fallen star. The sad, tragic fact is that we've become inured to the strange and bizarre. Amy's brief life played out like a scratched LP, its vertiginous twists and turns making bold attention-grabbing headlines and inspiring infinite Tweets and hash marks. But, Truth is often the thing that is not spoken or written about; when it comes to the bottom line, a dead martyr is worth more than a living artist whose creative capital has been spent.

Perhaps only in Holylwood do we see the same degree of mockery and mean-spiritedness heaped on fallen stars by the very media that enables the kind of meteoric rise that we witnessed with Amy Winehouse. But as the media hovers voyeuristically, vulturistically around the lurind details of her death, let's not forget that that Truth - that bitter pill - still holds stock in certain circles.

We are witnessing a new kind of artist cum martyr: one that lacks the glamor of Marilyn Monroe or the heroic stature of Jim Morrison. The new martyr prototype is defiled, ragged at the edges: Anna Nicole Smith and Curt Cobain being the 
penultimate dead examples; Courtney Love and Lindsay Lohan being perhaps the best living examples. Perhaps the whole idea of beauty has become obsolete, anachronistic. But let's not forget that it was the brilliant, blazing and beautiful Amy Winehouse of 2007 that the world fell in love with, and that it was her music that won our hearts and minds. Have we become so besieged by, so bombarded by the image of beauty, that we've become bored by it?

So the question remains: after the sales of her last album peaked, what were the impediments to Amy Winehouse's addiction seeing as it was her tawdry travails - not her music - that kept her in the press? 

Seeing as her last album was in 2007, five years later, and that her demise has been a steady spiral down since then, one thing is for certain: it was unlikely that she would ever create another album as brave and brilliant as her last.

The questions we naturally ask after such an untimely death usually have to do with particularities; we ask ourselves why? how? when? But if we pull back and look at the large scale of things, we can see the pattern emerge, one that has more to do with a Music Busine$$ that - like Wall Street - has grown into a gluttonous, bloated behemoth which lacks all proportionality and any self-governing moral code.
To be sure, there will be voluminous articles, blog posts and tweets about how many albums the death of Amy Winehouse has spurred. But will her demise serve as a lesson to this generation of UK teenage addicts?

Let us all wait, watch and see: as "Amy Winehouse's Record Label Scrambles for Unreleased Tracks", will Universal Records have the moral backbone to donate the profits to charities that address problems of teenage addiction, charities like Addaction or Teen Challenge? Will Lady Gaga? Who will notice if they don't?

Sent from my iPad


Mark Copeland said...

They will take the money and run, Vanessa. You've been in the business, you know how it works.....

George Hook said...

I couldn't have put it better myself, V.