I'm going to go out on a little bit of a limb, here. It may be a little too soon. It may be in bad taste. (And it is in direct contradiction - but possibly some weird flipside of the same coin - to what Clem Bastow was lamenting in The Age on Tuesday) but I find it really creepy that Whitney Houston's albums have made a return to the US Billboard charts.
Of course, it goes without saying (but I guess I will in case my point is easy to miss) that it's very sad that Whitney Houston died so young.
But I would really like to know how many people who bought her albums this week, wouldn't have really cared to listen to any of them last week? I'd be willing to bet that it's a reasonable amount of people.
What has changed about people's perceptions of her that make them want to rush out/online and start listening now? True, there is an almost-romance about someone passing over to the other side, the mystery of where they have gone (if anywhere). A full stop has appeared where their life just was.
The shock of celebrity deaths are a container for us to pour our own grief into about our own pending deaths, and those of every single person we know, don't know, love or hate.
So while that's all understandable, it's still damn creepy. Someone has been put on a pedestal who, when people thought of her a week ago, probably would have had meaner thoughts than they have now that she's dead (like the way people now feel about Michael Jackson. He was whacko before, but now his life is over he's more sad than whacko, more misunderstood genius than potential-paedophile (or whatever it was you thought about Michael Jackson). How many of the people who are now re-acquainting themselves with her music thought last week that Whitney was a bit of a has-been, or a bit of a sad old thing who'd lost her way a little in drugs?
The superstitiously-minded of us aver that the things people thought about her last week they shouldn't be thinking of this week. It is bad form to speak ill of the dead and all.
Which is nice. But it's also sentimentalism and fetishising death, fetishising something that is coming for us all.
And while celebrity deaths are one of those distancing containers for us to pour some of our grief into, putting everyone on a pedestal who has died is distancing the colour and shape, the dark and the light of their lives.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could instead rose-colour our views of everybody while they're still alive? When it counts? Maybe there's something helping in keeping before us the notion that everyone we come in contact with will one day be dead. There are some who may call that morbid.
But maybe it's just reality.