Mozart and other celebrities, all dead

The Times reports a new epidemiological study finds Mozart probably died–not from poison–but from a strep infection that led to kidney failure, and death.

On the heels of reading this article, I bumped into the following:

In the future, a famous person will die every fifteen minutes. Already it’s happening. The ascent of the microcelebrities, the 24 hour news cycle, citizen journalism, and our darkest fantasies all collide on Twitter now. The website’s rhetorical question “What are you doing?” sometimes feels more like “Who died today?”

Every day on Twitter, news of another death. Les Paul, John Hughes, Farrah Fawcett, those big names, but also the editor at this publication, the founder of this startup, the people who we might not all know, but someone you know knew them and they are using the space to remember them.

Makes sense, right? More and more “microcelebrities” (a term I like) and so the odds of a famous death increase.  I don’t know if 15 minutes is the right cycle length, but the point seems true.

The author of the post goes on to describe a science fiction story she wrote years ago in which many young female celebrities die in the same position (despite different causes of death) and investigative work reveals

a secret assembly line building pneumatic female androids. Tomorrow’s stars.

And the investment in this pneumatic technology is resolved in the following:

Since every time the newest Miley dies, her song is number one for the rest of the week, the souless DRM machine eventually decided to build popstars instead. Truly planned obsolescence of celebrity.

In fact, it doesn’t take a very smart, or very insane conspiracy theorist to argue that the “media machine” (and I always love my mental image of the dude from the Wizard of Oz, running that machine from behind a purple, velvet curtained, circular shower stall), is accomplishing exactly this, just without the androids.

Although understanding the macro-nuances of human psychology is way above my paygrade, let me add one additional thought: the loss of “time with our feelings” afforded by IRL experience and a slower media cycle is likely to dull the grieving process, perhaps leaving a generation of digital natives (yuck) with a pretty different experience of mourning than their parents or older peers.  Since I’m more old school about death (I like a good, long Catholic funeral and a good, long Irish wake), I find this somewhat terrifying.


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