So the world’s most famous alcoholic and junkie – the car crash that was Amy Winehouse – is dead at last, putting herself out of what appeared to be a miserable quagmire of destructive addiction. And even worse, an addiction played out as the world salaciously watched and salivated, savouring every picture of her bruised, bedraggled, bleeding and intoxicated body and persona. No one is surprised but everyone is shocked.
But when the self-destructive girl was abnormally clean and healthy, no one was really interested in her. What’s newsworthy about that? We liked Amy Winehouse the clown entertaining everyone as they sat at their grey desks in grim offices and pedestrian jobs, looking for excuses not to work. Look at her pulling funny faces with her make up smeared across her face; look at her funny skinny legs, isn’t she a fabulous disaster? Ha ha ha. Ho ho ho. She can sing as well you know. But no one likes a clown without their make up or funny trousers on.
As a nation of alcoholics many of us looked at her and thought, ‘God, not even I’m that bad!’ – and it made us feel that bit better, knowing that our own paltry addictions and afflictions couldn’t compete with Amy Winehouse’s much publicised downfall. However drunk and offensive and embarrassing we became, Amy always did it better. And instead of just embarrassing pictures on Facebook only accessible by a handful of ‘friends’, Amy’s images were plastered across every red top juicepaper and every sanguinary celebrity website that thirsted for her pixelated celebrity blood.
Proving what a pathetic and sick bunch the human race is, her second album Back in Black re-entered the charts the day after her death. All of a sudden, with her departure, everyone is Amy Winehouse’s friend, everyone is an Amy Winehouse fan. The same rubberneckers that drank up the sometimes shocking images of her like gossip-hungry vampires whilst she was alive now mourn her passing, like they were a close friend.
And the tasteless stupidity doesn’t stop there. Some idiots in the guise of fans (or is it the other way around?) , have adorned her shrine in Camden Square, London with cigarettes and vodka bottles, which is like leaving a tumour at the grave of a cancer victim or Semtex at the shrine of someone wiped out during a bombing.
A pilgrimage of fans and friends went to the Hawley Arms pub in North London – a trendy bar often visited by Winehouse and other famous Camdenite co-drinkers, all wanting to drink in the pub that she frequently attended. Which is exactly why people have been going to the Hawley Arms and a handful of other fashionable bars every other night anyway.
Perhaps if she’d got out of Camden – a melting pot for junkies and lushes and scabby musicians, she’d have stood a chance of survival. The area has achieved new status in the last few years due to the presence of Winehouse and her cohorts, turning regular pubs into trendy holes frequented by those desperate to be in the same space as some celebrity, like that might make them cool by association.
But there is really nothing cool about being an alcoholic or a junkie. It’s about time it stopped being romanticised by the creative industries: the troubled writer, the tortured artist, the suicidal genius.
It’s no more tragic that Amy Winehouse died than if one of us mere mortals dies. It’s just more public. She had the opportunity to have a fantastic life. She could have done anything she wanted to but she screwed it up. She was a beautiful young woman – despite the many unflattering and scabrous images available on the internet – with a stunning voice, but she had one massive weakness – the brain of an addict and the propensity for self destruction. A propensity that made her exponentially more famous than simply having a tremendous voice, ever could.
I battled with drink problems and drug issues for many years, the only difference between Amy Winehouse and a regular lush or junkie is that the regular lush or junkie generally has to be able to function on some level. We have to make a living. We have responsibilities, we have to stay sober long enough to perform our jobs. We can’t afford to marinate ourselves in booze and drugs all day, otherwise we would.
So did alcohol kill her? Did drugs kill her? Did fame kill her? Or did Amy Winehouse kill herself? I wonder if the deceased chanteuse is worth more to her record label dead than alive? Is she less hassle and worry to her loved ones dead than she was alive? Definitely, I’d say.
I don’t care that we lost a great talent. Amy Winehouse was undoubtedly exceptionally talented. I care that we lost a young woman who should have been helped and protected; a young woman who was unable to cope with the fame that came with having a recognised talent.
On the other hand, Amy Winehouse was a sad alcoholic and a pathetic junkie and shouldn’t be revered for this type of behaviour, any more than the smack heads that skulk around the back streets of Camden Town. But of course she will be. She will be escalated to rock n roll martyr. Her death will guarantee her longevity. Something that continuing to live couldn’t have guaranteed.
We are all to blame for Amy Winehouse’s death. When I say ‘all’ I mean all of us that took pleasure in the images of her looking dreadful, drug addled and demented on booze and drugs. All of us that drank with her or took drugs with her were condoning her public suicide. But most of all, the hideous and unprincipled media that were always on hand, stalking her in order to capture every indiscretion and amplify it.
Amy Winehouse didn’t court public attention like media whores such as Lady Gaga do but garnered attention accidentally through having a great voice and an equally great affliction. I don’t believe Amy Winehouse was a lost cause. I believe that if she’d been kept away from Camden and other losers she could have turned her life around, as I and so many other losers have. I think that if she’d had a decent support network and if the media had left her alone, she’d have pulled through. She didn’t need an end to her suffering – whatever the course of that was – she wasn’t a wounded creature beyond repair. She could have survived. But that’s not very rock & roll, is it?
Ok, so we lost another junkie. So what? But unfortunately a young woman with a tremendous voice was lost too. Shame, huh?
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