Off Topic Messages

Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:51 am

I was just on YouTube, and I found two videos that had versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Two different singers, neither of which was the subject of the video. One was a tribute to Elvis, the other a tribute to Michael Jackson. I suppose I could make one that included a whole boatload of dead stars, and it would still be moving, in its way.

My question is this: since both videos are by zealously devoted "He Is King"-type fans, do some of us sometimes prefer that our idols be dead, so that we may better revere them? I know that doesn't seem fair, but it might be true. These videos could not have been made without the premature deaths of these megastars, and their deaths enhanced their legends.

So, do we want this? Do we lie to ourselves that we are truly devastated, yet revel in the making of reverential tributes, as though we had been just waiting for the opportunity? Did it start with James Dean? Or maybe earlier? This cult of death-love?

It bothers me, because I am drawn to these tribute videos. I wish some were better made, and that some were less overblown, but I watch 'em by the dozen. Why? Why do I do this? Why are they popular? Do we actually rather them be dead? It's easier that way, isn't it? You can spill out all this emotion, all this reverence, on someone you never knew personally, and it costs you nothing. Or very little. Lisa can't watch these videos, because it's her dad. (And oh, by the way, the other one happens to be her ex.) I don't know for sure, but I'm betting she can't watch them, and does not watch them. But we MAKE THEM, some of us, and we watch them.

Do we need to interrogate ourselves about this? These were real people, with real families, kids. And we USE their tragedies for our own purposes. So, the question again: do we prefer it this way, that they be dead?

I guess I'm angry at myself for continuing to watch them, to be drawn to them.

rjm

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:11 am

I think it started way back with Rudolph Valentino....

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:24 am

joshferrell wrote:I think it started way back with Rudolph Valentino....


Probably so. Does anyone have an answer, to the main question? {quizzical expression}

rjm

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:06 am

I would prefer Elvis to still be alive ,and i dont think i would like him any less if he were

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:32 pm

keninlincs wrote:I would prefer Elvis to still be alive ,and i dont think i would like him any less if he were


absolutely......and I would be old enough to go see him now.......

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:50 pm

rjm wrote:I was just on YouTube, and I found two videos that had versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Two different singers, neither of which was the subject of the video. One was a tribute to Elvis, the other a tribute to Michael Jackson. I suppose I could make one that included a whole boatload of dead stars, and it would still be moving, in its way.

My question is this: since both videos are by zealously devoted "He Is King"-type fans, do some of us sometimes prefer that our idols be dead, so that we may better revere them? I know that doesn't seem fair, but it might be true. These videos could not have been made without the premature deaths of these megastars, and their deaths enhanced their legends.

Do we need to interrogate ourselves about this? These were real people, with real families, kids. And we USE their tragedies for our own purposes. So, the question again: do we prefer it this way, that they be dead?rjm

I'm not 100% sure of what you're asking Robin but I certainly don't prefer Elvis in death vs. when he was alive. I don't believe any fan prefers their idol after death. The reality is that these are tributes and are the only way people have of expressing their emotions and feelings about their fallen idols. It's similar to how we feel when we lose someone close to us... we will never have the opportunity to see them again in life so we feel the loss and need a way to express that loss. A tribute is one way to do that. I believe fans of both Michael Jackson and Elvis prefer that they were both alive, creating new music and entertaining us again... I can't think of it any other way.

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:08 pm

i'd prefer them to be alive, not dead...and i don't think it's easier that they're dead, more like the opposite. with elvis i will never know, what was it like to experience him myself...he died before i was born...just being alive at the same time as he was. people can tell me about it, but it's not the same as being there yourself. and most importantly, i would have a chance to see him
another one i have to mention is freddie mercury...been a queen fan since i can remember, because of my mom. i'm not exaggerating when i say i was raised on their music. i was a kid when freddie died, and he was the first idol that i experienced the loss of...i'd prefer he was still alive....then i would go to a queen concert or 2...never been to any
with michael jackson i've been through it all...been a fan my whole life, been to plenty of concerts (15 to be exact)...his death...i'd prefer he was still alive as well....
and elvis too, of course...i'd prefer he was still alive
and what would they be doing if they were still alive? where would they be? still entertaining? these are questions i will never get answered
so no, i don't think it's easier that they're dead just so people can make tribute videos. i never watch those videos anyway...not a big fan of them

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:48 am

elvis-fan wrote:
rjm wrote:I was just on YouTube, and I found two videos that had versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Two different singers, neither of which was the subject of the video. One was a tribute to Elvis, the other a tribute to Michael Jackson. I suppose I could make one that included a whole boatload of dead stars, and it would still be moving, in its way.

My question is this: since both videos are by zealously devoted "He Is King"-type fans, do some of us sometimes prefer that our idols be dead, so that we may better revere them? I know that doesn't seem fair, but it might be true. These videos could not have been made without the premature deaths of these megastars, and their deaths enhanced their legends.

Do we need to interrogate ourselves about this? These were real people, with real families, kids. And we USE their tragedies for our own purposes. So, the question again: do we prefer it this way, that they be dead?rjm

I'm not 100% sure of what you're asking Robin but I certainly don't prefer Elvis in death vs. when he was alive. I don't believe any fan prefers their idol after death. The reality is that these are tributes and are the only way people have of expressing their emotions and feelings about their fallen idols. It's similar to how we feel when we lose someone close to us... we will never have the opportunity to see them again in life so we feel the loss and need a way to express that loss. A tribute is one way to do that. I believe fans of both Michael Jackson and Elvis prefer that they were both alive, creating new music and entertaining us again... I can't think of it any other way.


What I meant was that it's easy for fans to idealize stars when they are no longer around to change the story themselves. It gives all the power to the fan, to make the star into whatever they want. And the star cannot do or say anything about it. Death actually gives fans a power they don't have when an idol is alive. There has got to be a reason for the fascination with James Dean, beyond those three films he made. Would he even BE a legend if he'd stayed around to have a career? Perhaps, to an extent. But he wouldn't be the "James Dean" we know. Same with Marilyn Monroe. I'm sure people expected her to die, but it also gave them a better story to tell. Monroe herself had trouble with fans who would stare at her, as though they were staring at a thing, and not a person. It bugged her. And that's exactly what they wanted: to stare at an object, which is what they've been doing ever since she died. "Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did." (Elton John can drum up eulogies practically on-demand, it seems, Well, he and his co-writer. He only does the melodies.)

Death transforms a living human subject into an inanimate object. And the fans then have a degree of almost total control and power that they couldn't have otherwise. Elvis never lived to the point where he could look back at what happened, and tell us what he was going through, what he was thinking, and had he lived, how he got out of it. It would have been a good human interest story, but he would not have the kind of status that death brought him. And we, as fans, have profited from that enormously in so many ways. We get records we never would have gotten, we get to explore his home, and he can't say anything about it. But more than that, we get to tell the story as we wish, and he doesn't. And that's a privilege given to fans by his death. It can't be helped; he did die. But my question is that maybe we like telling the story too much - as with these tributes, which may be more about the person making the tribute, than about the object. In death, a star can be all things to all people. And perhaps some fans, without even knowing it, like that kind of power. And over the years, stars follow certain trajectories, that are now well-known. And if a star wants to be an eternal icon, it's kind of required that they get off the train early, before it reaches its destination.

I mean, stars know it now. That fans will make these love offerings to them, IF they die. And many oblige. And that's what was disturbing. Such videos get a lot of view counts. They are popular. I watch them all the time. It's not the tributes that are the problem, but the motivations to make them, and to watch them. We get a lot from them, and mostly, we get the chance to create a perfect image of someone who was imperfect in life. Yes, we want Elvis back, but having him here these past decades would mean it was his story to tell, not ours. His death gave us power. And there's something unsettling about that, especially when fans don't realize how one-sided the relationship is when molding the image of a dead star. They don't realize that there is a payoff for them when creating the martyred image, a payoff that wouldn't be there, had they lived to a reasonable age.

It just hit me last night watching these things, and realizing that they were some of the very first things I watched a year ago, when I first had the chance to dive into YouTube. And here I am, a year later, watching more of 'em. The song used is an extreme example, because it is rather over the top in the contexts described, but it got me to thinking. Watch them, and think about the mind of the fans making them.

One is Rufus Wainwright singing, the following is Jeff Buckley.

The video-maker gets to call the star "the baffled king," and basically talks down to the star, while supposedly elevating them. "It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah." It's an extreme example, but intriguing. (There are several with this song . . .)

phpBB [video]


phpBB [video]



rjm

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:22 am

You cannot necessarily feel superior to an idol until they are dead.

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:28 pm

The worshipping of dead heroes goes back beyond James Dean, & even Valentino !

The Romans used to have idols amongst the charioteers & gladiators of the day - & that was before YouTube !

And they often had short lives......................

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:15 pm

It sure makes my collection worth a hell of a lot more!

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:39 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:You cannot necessarily feel superior to an idol until they are dead.


ColinB wrote:The worshipping of dead heroes goes back beyond James Dean, & even Valentino !

The Romans used to have idols amongst the charioteers & gladiators of the day - & that was before YouTube !

And they often had short lives......................


promiseland wrote:It sure makes my collection worth a hell of a lot more!


I take it I'm the only one having a crisis of conscience over this. After all, the responses are so . . . deadpan. :smt095

rjm

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:20 pm

You can browse YouTube and find similar tributes for the living though Robin. When deciding on a subject for a YouTube video, I guess people are drawn to their idols, living or dead. The tone of the videos might be different when the star is living, but the motivation is the same.

Fans didn't wait until Elvis was dead to develop their fantasy version of the man. His carefully managed image allowed him to be all things to all men. If anything, fans have a tougher time maintaining such an image of him now.

Re: Tough Question For Fans . . . Any Fans

Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:48 pm

This kind of sums it up.


phpBB [video]


Joy Division, "Dead Souls" (Licht und Blindheit single B-side, Sordide Sentimental SS33022, March 1980)
Original release March 1980, reissue October 1981.
http://www.neworderweb.net/discographies/joydivision/jd_lichtundblindheit.phpl
http://www.gerpotze.com/joydivision/jddisco1.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Still_(Joy_Division_album)