Let me set this post up for you right here. I've always been a sucker for theatricality: in fact I'm writing this before I dash off to rehearsals. I like fantasy and romance; stories where the guy conquers adversity to be with the girl who will love him for eternity (and dresses like an Ann Summers mannequin). I also like huge hairy guys. So although he's roughly between the age of my father and grandfather, I still have a bit of a soft spot for Mr Loaf.
|And get this: Meat Loaf changed his name. TO MICHAEL. O_O|
I went through it all: downloading his appearance on gameshow screamfest Don't Forget The Lyrics, watching his alleged meltdown on Celebrity Appentice USA, catching him as a flustered bureaucrat on Glee's homage of Rocky Horror. I decided I'd have a little look on the web and find out what he's been up to recently.
I did begin this sentence with "imagine my horror", but that's a bit hammy. However I was frankly disgusted to find that there were videos of him fainting. Actual videos. People genuinely had nothing better to do while watching a gig that had been cut short due to Meat Loaf collapsing, so they filmed it while it happened.
As someone who frequently faints in public, I can honestly say that I feel incredibly angry about that. When someone faints, it's often a traumatic and upsetting experience: not just for the person who is ill but to those around them. It's often really shocking, because the last thing most people expect to happen in a normal situation is for someone else to just drop lifelessly to the floor.
Once it happened to me in a shopping complex, and my at-the-time boyfriend actually chased down and tackled a kid who had whipped out their mobile phone and started taking pictures of me.
How utterly humiliating!
I read an article of Charlie Brooker's detailing a man who had filmed his friend kicking a woman who had collapsed, while bellowing "THIS IS YOUTUBE MATERIAL". Thanks to that, I'm quite scared of becoming ill in public. What if I end up on the internet? What if someone robs me? What if my fiance isn't there to protect me?
Maybe I'm panicking a little. But when does whipping out your camera phone become acceptable behaviour? Obviously, being famous doesn't stop it: if anything, it makes it worse.
Fans might argue that they were doing Meat Loaf a favour. "We're highlighting his plight," they might say (in my head, as I try to reason with my white-hot fury). No, you're highlighting an unconscious man receiving medical attention. If he was conscious, don't you think he'd yell at you to stop?
But they don't know any better. I'm half expecting Sky News to run a feature on this, which ends like this: "Well that's all we've got time for, but remember: if you have any snaps of unconscious or injured celebrities, please send them to email@example.com."
You think I'm joking? The other day I was browsing news sites, and I managed to see a photo of the late Amy Winehouse's dead body. She was covered in something thin, possibly a bedsheet, but the contours of the body were very visible. It was incredibly disturbing. The next few photos depicted Big Brother contestant and Amy's close friend Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace breaking down. Not 'breaking down' as a figure of speech, actually falling to the ground and weeping.
I'm not going to call for all-out boycott of the news. What I will say is this: the media has crossed boundaries, and has somehow justified the treatment of public figures as shallow entertainment vessels, even when they are in moments of dire need. And that attitude is spilling over into the public, so that the label now applies to all people. Someone collapsing in the street is now an "event".
I'll just leave you with this: the next time a person passes away or passes out, I don't want to hear it. I don't want to see it; I don't want to see their friends and family crying, I don't want 'tributes' to them comprising of stock image photos of them and vox-pops of the coroner. Time to stop. NOW.
*That ain't a dig at myself there; I like the way I look. If you'll pardon my conceit.
^ 12/6/09 YouTube, user 'PattiRocksVideos', retrieved 9/9/11
^ 3/4/11 YouTube, user 'Amordril', retrieved 9/9/11