I don’t know about you readers, but I am very much looking forward to the impending demise of Kerry Katona. Mourning her promises to be even more cathartic than judging her has been. In a year when we have lost both Jade and Jacko, Kerry’s death would make 2009 a hat-trick year for Celebrity Bereavement.
I heard about Celebrity Bereavement on one of those afternoon TV shows that are watched by home-keepers with a moment to spare, elderly viewers, the chronically unemployed, or those too horribly disfigured to leave the house. A psychologist was on (I’d seen her on Big Brother and she’s pretty insightful) explaining the phenomenon of Celebrity Bereavement. She said that, unlike the grief caused by normal bereavement, Celebrity Bereavement (or CB) causes a kind of super grief. In fact, the amount of grief caused by CB is directly proportionate to the height of the celebrity’s media profile at the time of their passing. For example, Super Grief (or SG) can be caused by the loss of someone extremely high profile like Diana Spencer (a.k.a. the Princess of Hearts) whereas personalities that rank lower on the celebrity scale merely incur a kind of Extra Grief (or EG). Imagine if Kevin Keegan died, EG would be a bit like that.
The psychologist on the afternoon TV show said that perfect conditions for CB include the celebrity in question’s death being sudden and dramatic, perhaps with a tinge of mystery to add a lair of intrigue. ‘Something to make us cock our eyebrows as the tears run down our cheeks,’ was how the psychologist put it. Was Diana murdered? Was Jacko given too much OxyContin with his cocoa? Was Rod Hull pushed? . . .that type of thing.
The psychologist also said it's preferable if the death of the celebrity rehabilitates their reputation to some extent. ‘Everyone loves cutting celebs down to size, it’s natural and there is no shame in it’ said the psychologist, ‘then, when the celebrity is suitably humbled, all we have to do is wait for them to die and we can wail about how they were just like us or how they were misunderstood and so on, it’s great’. Jade Goody went from racist oik to patron saint of the smear test, Michael Jackson went from being a kiddie fiddler back to being the King of Pop, Diana Spencer went from being a right royal strumpet to England’s Rose and Kerry Katona will go from being a coke snorting hussy to an understandably flawed young woman who temporarily overcame her difficult formative years to become both Queen of the Jungle and Mum of the Year, not to mention the face of the Iceland frozen food retail chain. Oh yes, Kerry’s death is going to provide 2009’s third CB emotional work out. Pity it couldn’t have been Britney, bit of a lost chance there although she’s not out of the woods yet. Anyway, I’ll be happy to make do with our martyr to mumdom Kerry Katona.
Incidentally, when asked how the death of someone like Martin Bashir would rate on the CB index, the psychologist said something like, ‘no one will really notice except maybe his wife or people who expect him to show up at work, . . .and even that’s a maybe.’