There’s nothing worse than feigned empathy

19 December 2007

When Katy French died I only knew her as “that so-called celeb in a coma”. I only knew her as that because I use TV3 to keep track of the time before I go to work in the morning. And she was a true example of a TV3 celebrity.

I never really intended to post about her death.

What’d be the point. I didn’t know her. Or anything about her. And if I’m honest I don’t care. That may sound uncaring; obviously for her family it is a tragedy. But I don’t post about every person who may or may not have died because of cocaine. Actually this isn’t about her at all, or her death, it is about the media reaction to her death.

Today Kevin (Disillusioned Lefty) posted a link to The Monkey’s Typewriter post about John Waters column in The Irish Times.
OMG what a load of old tripe. The John Waters column I mean, not the blog post. Did someone pretending to be a journalist actually write those things? If it wasn’t so horrendous it’d be funny. Actually, horrendous as it is, it is still hilarious as only self-indulgent tripe can be.

And of course it also further belittles the tragedy of French’s family as they have to put up with the media intrusion into their lives. Personal tragedy is the only real tragedy. This misbegotten piece of trash, from a person who didn’t know Katy is simply cashing in on her family’s pain with no real regard for what they might be going through.

French was not “personification of our fantasies” she was simply a person who was famous. And like all famous people, was therefore subject to other people’s projections and, in this case, a journalist making her less than a person in order to make some general sweeping comment about society. A general sweeping comment, btw, that says nothing at all.

She was a child. She was my daughter and Eoghan’s daughter and Eamon’s daughter and Pat’s daughter and Bertie’s daughter. She was your daughter, your little sister. She was a child of Ireland in the time of its rebirth.

Excuse me while I vomit.

Title taken from a thread.

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4 Responses

  1. Kudos. I don't understand the reaction, obviously it was terrible, but I mean that same week several other people ('normal' people allbeit!) died in accidents, be it road, drink or otherwise. Nobody cares about those poor people. They don't get a John Waters column written about them.

    Not to mention the fact that Ireland has been drowning in alcohol for years now, and the slightest sniff of coke and we're *all* going to die from it don't you know. Wait, I even heard that you can catch it from *other* people! Lord save us, the apocalypse is coming…

  2. Harlequin says:

    It's classic moral panic stuff. If you analysed the papers over the past few weeks, you'd find a lot of reporting of people hospitalised from cocaine etc etc. Whereas this stuff has been happening for years (with cocaine, ecstasy etc, never mind the horrors of heroin and alcohol) and didn't get reported. But now, it's been deemed newsworthy so every paper has reporters prowling around the A&E departments looking for anyone affected negatively by cocaine and making "news" out of it.

  3. James says:

    This is new for Ireland, but it is a sign of things to come. I was staying with my brother in America for the whole Katy French thing, but was following peoples reactions online to the media coverage. I couldn't believe it – the last I saw of her was on Podge and Rodge, where someone went on the street as a joke to ask passerbys "who is Katy French" and nobody had heard of her. I had to explain to my brother (who had also never heard of her) why this person that nobody had ever heard of is apparently Diana all of a sudden. While I'm sure it was "orders from above" in Independent Newspapers trying to make a few bob, I think the likes of John Waters got carried away by their own words and genuinely started to believe their own fantasy. I agree that it is a bit sickening. Hopefully this has all amounted to a lot of bad press for cocaine, which might make its use less acceptable.

  4. Well, John Waters may not be much of a songsmith, but I have more respect for him than most journalists. The disillusioned lefty may sneer, but he's one of the few Irish journos who show signs of having read more Yeats poems than the ones he had to study for the Leaving. He managed the Olympian feat of de-subscribing from the liberal media's groupthink, for which he deserves praise. Although he did ignore an email I sent him, years ago.

    Privacy is an overrated good, anyway. We're all public property, ultimately.