[27 November 2007]
Why is it that we have a tradition of rock and pop stars who over-indulge in vices and yet we still love them so much? Maybe it adds to their mystique or we like to live vicariously through them or by now, we just think it’s part-and-parcel of who and what they should be. Whatever the reason(s) might be, I was wondering this after reading endless headlines about the antics of Amy Winehouse. I happen to like AW- she’s a fine singer and songwriter. So, it kind of distresses me when I hear about the gallons of boozes and mountains of narcotics she liberally dabbles in and the resulting embarrassing behavior (canceling shows, drunken appearances at other shows). What’s a fan to do?
Obviously, Winehouse is an adult and it’s her choice and not mine or yours if she wants to be a drunk or an addict. Also, trying to preach ethics and morals to pop stars ain’t exactly a realistic cause- for one thing, you sound like an ol’ fuddy-duddy when you do that. There’s also the argument that this kind of behavior is just part of who she is, which is the same claim made of many other singers (i.e. Shane MacGowan) as well as artists, playwrights, actors, etc..
But at the same time, I can’t help but feel that if you are a fan and you do care about a particular artist and their work, you do have a right to speak out and say something. Granted, you admire such a person at a distance- no matter how much you connect with their work or their lifestyle, they’re not actually your friend per se. But if their work does have meaning in your life, ideally, wouldn’t you want them to continue doing that work and be somewhat content in their life? Sure, but does that mean that you’re going to start an intervention for them? Not likely- I’m sure AW wouldn’t appreciate it (see her song “Rehab”) and she’d also wonder who the hell you are.
Nevertheless, as a fan, you can speak out and publicly say “Amy W, you’re a mess and you need to get your shit together!” Addiction and alcoholism are diseases and people who suffer from them need treatment as much as someone who’s got pneumonia.
And where’s the record company when this is happening? They have health plans for employees, so why don’t they have this for their artists? It’s a long-time and disgraceful dirty little secret that they don’t provide coverage for artists who technically are working for them.
Someone like Winehouse obviously needs help. The question is, since she doesn’t seem able to do so, who’s going to help her out?