It’s been just over a month since the sudden death of the musical genius Prince, and it still seems surreal. Being an eighties baby, I’ve been blessed to witness the legendary careers of many of our recently departed music icons. The timeless music of Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Phife Dawg (A Tribe Called Quest), and David Bowie were the soundtrack of my childhood, and defined the trials and triumphs of a generation. They were all gone too soon, and I’m sending endless prayers and empathy for all of their families and loved ones.
It’s so important to celebrate our cultural influencers while their alive to witness it. As I explored in an older post entitled “Crucifying Celebrities – Judge & Jury”, social media has seemed to normalize the heighten ridicule and harsh judgment of celebrities. It seems that stars aren’t appreciated for their talents and contributions until their passing and even in their passing, the short attention span of the public and media outlets can sometimes result in a brief and sometimes unjust memorial.
For example, the passing of hip-hop icon Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest definitely did not receive the recognition he deserved, and the memorial of his influential career was only restricted to hip hop oriented media outlets despite the heavy pop culture influence that the group stamped on the music industry. Also, the passing of David Bowie was briefly mentioned in the media. David Bowie was a musical, fashion, and cultural icon, with similarity to Prince loved to blur the lines of gender and sexuality. I suppose that since David Bowie and Phife Dawg both passed from natural health complications that the media couldn’t find any drama to coax up that usually surrounds the deaths of other celebrities such as the stereotypical “sex, drugs, and rock & roll”.
It’s been disappointing to witness how the media continues to disrespect the legacy of certain pop icons. Instead of recognizing their talents and contributions, the media and law enforcement have become absolutely obsessed with invading their autopsy reports, estates, and family drama. The way Prince’s death is being portrayed in the media is absolutely ridiculous. Prince was notorious for keeping a private life separate from his music career. Upon his death, the police invaded and ransacked his Minneapolis home, and media outlets were swarming his compound anxiously awaiting any leads they could dig up, whether positive or negative. Since Prince was so protective of his personal life, it seems as if the world was thirsting for any insight into his mysterious life.
Outside of all the media drama, I do appreciate how Prince’s career milestones and hit songs have been celebrated across all media platforms: film theaters and TV outlets screening his pop cult film Purple Rain, Madonna’s tribute to Prince at the 2016 Billboard Awards, video collages, murals, merch, and the list goes on. But, I do believe that the only reason Prince’s death is still a leading news topic is because his autopsy reports are still pending. I feel the media is waiting on the news of the speculation of his death to be related to drug abuse. Similar to how Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston’s deaths were handled by the media, their legacies were tainted and judgements casted upon their characters when their autopsy reports proved that their deaths were drug-related.
I’m a firm believer that everyone has their own personal demons to battle with. Just because someone battles with drugs, I’m not automatically going to deem them to be a bad person. The public only knew the genius of these legendary icons, but at the end of the day they were all human beings trying to figure out life just like everyone else. I also find it interesting that it was public knowledge how the late David Bowie battled with drug addiction throughout his life, but respect for his legacy trumped Michael, Whitney, and Prince combined.
But despite these petty matters, I will always adore all of these legendary artists for their inspirational accomplishments and any support they could provide to their peers and people in need. This on-going news of Prince’s pending autopsy reports, not having a will, and ratchet family drama means nothing to me. What I admire about Prince is all of his philanthropic work he kept from public knowledge. I loved discovering how he held Lauryn Hill down once he found out about her going to prison for her tax issues, and how he took care of her family and financial expenses until she was released from prison. That is the Prince that I will always love and hold dear to my heart.