Generations Passing

January 22nd, 2017

Illustration of great generational artists

Illustration by Sarah James / The Phoenix News

2016 is being considered a pretty rough year for a number of reasons, but a main point of misery for many people was the apparent increase in celebrity deaths over the course of the year. From the passing of David Bowie to Prince to Carrie Fisher, and so many in between, people are understandably saddened. Others, perhaps, are becoming annoyed with all this talk of celebrity death, but it is important to acknowledge the cause of this increased mortality and the legacy these celebrities leave behind.

The most prevalent explanation for these deaths is simply that celebrities are getting old. The rise of many celebrities came with the rise of Hollywood, especially in the 1950s and 60s, and those people are now getting into their 70s and 80s. Even celebrities who died this year, and were between the ages of 50-70, fit this bill, as the hedonistic lifestyles they often engaged in dramatically lowered their life expectancy.

Some experts are actually saying that we should have predicted even more celebrity deaths this year, given the above reasoning. That may seem grim, but with the huge success of Youtubers, Viners, and similar Internet celebrities, as well as the expansion of media through streaming sites, television, and simply cheaper ways of creating content, we have more celebrities than ever. Realistically speaking, the number of celebrity deaths will likely only increase over the years.

Looking at the legacies of these artists is an important component in accepting their deaths. David Bowie once said, “As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?” That second question aptly sums up what it means to build a legacy, and the artists that passed away this year have certainly left behind footprints that will not be easily forgotten.

This year, as fans cried out at the death of their favourite artists and thousands of other creators crafted personal tributes to the dead, served as a reminder of what an impact art can have on our lives and the importance of expressing ourselves.

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