Amy Winehouse passed away. The internet is bubbling with tears, grief, anger and a multitude of conspiracy theories about what happened in her bedroom on that last evening: why and with whom. Amy Winehouse was a fascinating phenomenon. Apart of her fantastic voice and great songs, it’s the drama that engulfed her that captures the sociologist in me. “Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada” (Chronicle of a Death Foretold), the title of the Gabriel García Márquez novel captures perfectly a scary new social phenomenon: panem et circenses (bread and games).
Millions of people followed every step of Amy Winehouse’s life, the success, the sorry moments, the young girl unable to cope with success and celebrity status. Bloggers and twitterati had field days covering her drinking problems and severe drug addiction. Pictures and videos of Winehouse’s slow descent were shot around the planet. A youngster lost control, publicly, and millions of people were watching. Society as a whole failed to save Amy.
Panem et Circenses. We want our heroes to suffer and die miserably. We watched Amy – and others – battling till death. In old Rome, people watched their gladiator heroes go down. Two millennium of civilization only got the audience up from a couple of thousand to a couple of million.
We can be proud of ourselves.