Why do some of our precious performing artists, singers, dancers and actors, have to go through so much suffering?
Gwyneth Paltrow, who won an Oscar in 1998 as best actress of the year, said this month (May 2021) she had gone “totally off the rails” during the pandemic drinking whisky to get through quarantine.
“I was drinking seven nights a week and making pasta and eating bread,” she told the press.
Chris Martin, her ex-husband, also spoke about his experience in the lockdown.
Lead singer from England of one the world’s biggest pop/rock bands, Coldplay, he said of his experience of last year (2020),
“Who am I without Wembley Stadium saying, ‘You’re awesome’?”
“I’m trying in my life right now to not attach too much to being a pop star.
“I’m trying not to get my self-worth from external validation.”
We love our performing artists but many experience vulnerable lives. The artists, singers, actors, dancers and others can forget show business is a business with their immense talents regarded as a commodity to make as much money as possible out of them. Revenues from their concerts, gigs for CEOS of the corporate world/gigs for children of royalty/billionaires, corporate advertising, films, DVDs, CDS, music rights, clothing, posters and much more turns them into a valuable piece of property – to be used and abused.
Our performing artists find themselves trapped in horrendous contracts and surrounded by hangers on. The artists must wonder whether their friends want to be around because of their fame, their money or to gain some sense of self-worth themselves. Association with a famous person gives that person an inflated sense of being somebody.
Our performing artists have immense gifts in song and dance speaking to us in a musical language that expands our heart into joyful appreciation. On stage, a singer feels and appears to be on top of the world but then the singer departs from stadium, the arena or the concert hall. The voice of the singer goes quiet. The dancer ends their dance. The devoted fans fade away.
What is left? Only the loneliness of an abandoned self. The weight of projections of fans, minders and management have told them incessantly how wonderful he or she is. The glorification of their success, of their name and fame, collapses in a heap in their inner life. Such performing artists were not born nor made for such an existence, nor such degrees of personal suffering.
The media hunts down the lives of successful performing artists like a pack of wolves after a young deer. They tear apart the soul of the artist to publish sensational and lurid front page stories and front-page pictures. Such photographers and journalists have no interest, no concern for the feelings of the performing artist. They latch onto a piece of information, buy the story of someone close to the artist and then intensify the report with innuendo, cynicism and prolonged harassment.
Fame and wealth offer not an iota of protection to these remarkable human beings with their artistic talent that brings so much happiness into the world. The gods of music, the gods of dance and the gods of cinema/stage contribute significantly to enlivening our lives and reducing some of the mediocrity of daily life. We would all be poor without their presence.
The artists find themselves dancing to the tune of their owners.
Show business never seems to take care of the vulnerability of the inner life of the gods of music, as well as other arts. Addictions around drugs, alcohol, painful marriages, wild outbursts, problematic behaviour and time in health clinics generate free publicity for the business to keep their artists name in the public eye. Show business can make money out of their success and out of the suffering of their artists. Powerful corporations in the entertainment business often cast a dark shadow over our entertainers in their desire to exploit their investment for themselves, the board and shareholders.
Deep down, the singer and the dancer surely know the daily abuse heaped upon them, alongside idolatry from millions of fans, who only know an appearance of a person on stage or the manufactured stories in the media. The fans know nothing about the real of the person. The performing artist knows this, too.
They find themselves surrounded day by day with falseness – projections of greatness on one side or the desire of the press to humiliate on the other side. Family members and an ex-partner will sell their story, too. You can feel very lonely in such circumstances.
Is it any wonder that performing artists resort to a similar escape from the false? Is it any wonder they experience a range of severe mental health issues? Is it any wonder some experience an intense lack of self-worth or engage in abusive treatment of others, as well as themselves?
We need to care for them and understand their range of vulnerabilities.
The intensity of the pressure becomes intolerable, so the hand of the singer/dancer/actor reaches out to alcohol or drugs. or both. They start that fateful journey of the hand travelling to the mouth. This leads to another false state of consciousness offering a temporary relief from the falseness of stardom.
For some, alcohol or drugs or both lead to despair, depression, suicide or an early death when the body can no longer handle the violent impact of the concoction of such drink and chemicals. Personal doctors, psychologists and psychotherapists seem unable to protect our artists from their dives into despair.
A List of those who fell into the Black Hole
Here is a list of a number of the Stars who tragically crashed into the Black Hole. There are countless other performing artists who never reached the heights of public acclaim as those named below. They also have suffered due to fame or lack of fame.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:
Amy Whitehouse. (1983 to 2011). Received top award as British Female Solo Artist. Struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. Died in London age 27.
Brian Epstein. (1934 – 1967). Business manager of the Beatles. Sometimes referred to as the fifth Beatle. Died from a drug overdose in Liverpool. Aged 32.
Dinah Washington (1924 – 1963) cited as “the most popular black female recording artist of the ’50s”. Secobarbital and amobarbital, prescriptions for her insomnia and diet, contributed to her death. Aged 39.
Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977). Marketed as King of Rock n Roll. Died from drug overdose in his home. Aged 42.
George Michael (1963-2016). Singer. Won numerous music awards. Sold 115 million albums worldwide. Struggled with substance abuse for years. Coroner attributed his death to liver and heart disease. He died in his Oxfordshire home. Aged 53.
Janis Joplin (1943 – 1970). Renowned singer of rock, soul and blues music. Died from a heroin overdose. Aged 27.
Jim Morrison (1943 – 1971). Lead singer of the rock hand, the Doors. Regarded as one of the most iconic rock stars of all time. Died in Paris from alcohol abuse. Aged 27.
Jimi Hendrix. 1942 – 1970. Singer and regarded as the greatest guitarist in the history of rock. Died from a drug overdose. age 28.
Judy Garland (1922 – 1969). First woman to win Grammy award for album of the year. Star of Wizard of Oz. Died in London from a barbiturate overdose aged 47.
Margaux Hemingway (1954 – 1996) Marketed as a supermodel in the 1970s and then an actor. Suicide following history of addiction and depression. Aged 42.
Marilyn Monroe (1935 – 1962). Marketed as the Sex Goddess of the 1950s. Death from an overdose of barbiturates in her home in Los Angeles. Possibly suicide. Aged 36.
Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009). Marketed as the King of Pop. Died in his home from an overdose of propofol. Aged 51.
Prince (1958 – 2016) A top singer/songwriter/instrumentalist of his era. Died from accidental overdose of fentanyl. Aged 57.
Sid Vicious (1957 – 1979). Vocalist and bassist for the Sex Pistols, best known English punk band. He died from a heroin overdose in New York. Aged 22.
Whitney Houston (1963 – 2012). Sold more 200 million albums worldwide. Died in a bath in a hotel in Beverly Hills from cocaine and heart disease. Aged 49.
Moneymaking. Alive or Dead
The business of profiteering continued after their death with massive sales of their music, promotion of their interviews and a massive production of items in their name.
Our performing artists are precious, often in need of deep communication and wisdom. Desire, greed and corruption in show business treats these precious souls as objects for gain.
Such artists sing and dance for our delight and happiness. That’s their job. Why raise them up and cut them down? Show business promotes and disposes of our gifted and creative entertainers, especially those who reach the top of international acclaim. Many in the list above had accumulated the most global acclaim among all performing artists.
We need a radical change in the way we treat our artists. Massive projections from the audience, false friends and manipulation from business management can trigger addiction, depression or death of these vulnerable souls.
Our performing artists deserve our appreciation and respect not immature adulation and hero worship. The artist, his or her true friends and family feel helpless when seeing the mental health issues, addictions and despair of the person behind the image, the presentation – the hallmarks of the deceptive.
Show business has much soul searching to do.
Let us make sure those in the business know our concerns.