Dead Set

Miss Maggie Webber in Mourning, Albumen Carte de Visite with Tax Stamp, 1864-1866

For fuck sake spare me, will you? You see, thanks to last week’s demise of the fist-curlingly glorious Nelson Mandela the world has witnessed one of the most heinous practises this side of Harold Shipman agreeing to grace grandma with a home visit. No, I’m not talking about the obvious media carnage that ensued following the bleak news and no, I’m not wittering about the fact that even news presenters here in Wales were dressed in black as a result. That’s because what made me want to take a shit in a toddler’s hat instead was how, thanks to Twitter, the world embarked upon an unprecedented and stomach-twisting display of competitive grieving.

Yup, competitive grieving otherwise known as the race for Tweeters to tell the world that Mandela meant more to them than anyone else. If you’ve clicked on the trending Mandela hashtags at any point since his death you’ll know exactly what I mean, not least because you get to witness anyone from David Cameron to Paris Hilton trying to turn a 140-character turd into a heart-rendering message of verbal gold. Go on, check it out if you can stand their determination to be the most heartbroken/ touched/ bereft.

Now, don’t read this as an attack on Mandela. Fuck no. The man could plop nuggets of wonder as far as I am concerned. Do, though, read it as an attack on the mouth-breathing, celebrity twat-hangers who leap upon the cyber-bandwagon the instant anybody of note slips free of his or her mortal moorings. Before you know it Rachel Zoe, accessories fingerer, or Mia Farrow, crooner shagger, are strewing twitter with their heartbreak in much the same way that the Pope offers his Easter message to the heaving Vatican.

And you know what? I don’t give a curling turd about what some bloody snooker star thinks about the death of, well, anyone. That’s because I am convinced that competitive grieving has become ‘a thing’, as much a part of the modern celeb’s publicity armoury as walking a red carpet or dry-humping Artem on Strictly Come Dancing. In fact, I’d bet my kidneys that as soon as any big name breathes their last, Joey Essex or Katie Price gets a call from their publicists insisting that they tweet their condolences. Not to the family of the deceased mind you. Fuck no, who gives a shit about them? Instead they tweet their condolences to the world. That’s because public grief bags you one fuck of a lot more column inches than any private tears ever will.

And if I sound cynical that’s because I am. Well done for spotting it. That’s because this type of grief is becoming not just public but compulsory. It’s no longer enough to be sad, celebs have to be publicly sad and more than that they have to be sad at the death of every fucker they can think of. In fact, the world is so cowed by this trend that by not tweeting their grief, the non-posturing celeb will soon be providing the watching world with concrete evidence that they personally wanted to dismember the deceased before feeding them to racoons.

It’s like annual poppy fascism but with more glittery howling. Just as, by not wearing a poppy, you can be accused of enjoying the suffering of millions, by not tweeting your heartbreak you can be accused of maniacally guffawing at the news that the Queen Mother is indulging in rigor mortis. It doesn’t matter that the silent celeb once smacked the cadaver in the face in Chinawhite or cheated them out of a part in Corrie because once they are dead the New Law of Grief means they’ll become life-affirming, generous, funny soul-mates who are deeply missed. Well, they will for as long as it takes to bash out the tweet in between free dinners and pap shots.

In fact, private grief is becoming as rare as a privately educated cabinet member who has never spooged onto a digestive with the nine other posh boys in his dorm. That’s why I’m producing a bullshit bingo sheet in readiness for the next big-name bucket-kicking. The first person to spot inane death-based tweets from Frank Bruno, Cheryl Cole, Gary Barlow and any of the Loose Women harpees wins immunity from Twitter when The Queen, Barack Obama and Elton John gasp their last. You want competitive grieving? Then you’re barking up the wrong kraken.

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8 Responses to Dead Set

  1. Christine says:

    Oh Kath, you’ve been missed. x

    Yes, it’s one thing to pay your respects at someone’s passing, and quite another to behave like an emotionally incontinent wank hat. Also see Paris Hilton who attributed MLK’s “I have a dream” speech to Mr Mandela. I’m now utterly convinced the woman has a lacky to do her breathing for her, as she’s demonstrably incapable of managing it on her own…

  2. Alison Cross says:

    Glad to see you back, Kraken :-D

    Tis a well-known social media ploy that if you can tap in to what’s trending – whatever it might be….Nelson Mandela dying…..Kian Egan being gorgeous…..then you stand a chance of being SEEN. SEEN!!!! Or even RETWEETED which leads to even more chances of you being SEEN!

    We have become shallow hookers – anything for 140 characters, even grief.

  3. Am says:

    All of which goes to prove my theory that Twitter is just one big wank-festing waste of time

  4. Yes. This.

    Showing one’s respect is all well and good, and I know he moved a lot of people. Those years working for Pickfords, he helped 100′s of people move house, but such public displays of grief are a little much sometimes. Especially the badly spelt ones.

    Thank gawd Twitter wasn’t around when Diana died, gawd bless her.

  5. JohnC says:

    You know who I feel sorry for? All the families who lost someone the same day. Their grief will be lost and forgotten, buried under the waves of competitive mourning. To their families, they are just as important – if not more so. I raise a glass to *their* memories, whoever and wherever they may be.

    And, to put it another way, it’d be a brave newspaper who ran the headline “Another Old Man Dies.” He was 95, for heaven’s sake, and had been doing his best to die for several years. Another wonder of modern medicine, keeping him alive as long as they did.

  6. Elspeth says:

    Thank goodness for you. I don’t go in for all this tweeting/facebooking upon the death of a celebrity, and I find the people who do very… strange. Within minutes of the news breaking, my facebook feed was awash with something like a million photos of Mandela overlaid with quotes and messages of various kinds. Within minutes.

    I prefer to keep that sort of thing to myself.

  7. Kerry says:

    Abso-fucking-lutely, it gets right on my tits, alongside people that wish their toddlers a happy birthday through Facebook or make posts about “8 years today grandma was taken by the angels, RIP grandma” attention seeking posts.

  8. Emma says:

    Should I be worried that I saw more messages on my facebook feed about the death of Paul Walker, than I did about Nelson Mandela? Or should I just change the company I keep?
    I don’t post messages about the deaths of people I’ve never met, even if I did admire them.

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