Friday, June 25, 2010

Death becomes perfection

Have you noticed how everybody who dies – by accident, by suicide, by murder, by illness, by an Act of God – turns out to have been the ideal daughter/son/friend/sister/brother/parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/human-being, full of sweetness and light and the milk of human kindness while being the life and soul of the party at the same time as worrying about kittens and puppies and abandoned children and the environment. Makes you glad you’re not the ideal anything, doesn’t it? Because if you were, you’d be dead and people would be reading about perfect li’l you in the newspaper.

Ok, that’s not my own original observation. I came across it, or something like it, somewhere and it struck a chord very loudly. I’ve merely embellished the original here (could you tell?).

I acknowledge that I’m uncharitable and un-empathetic and nasty, but I have to say that it's really irritating to read news items where the tearful friends and relatives of the deceased warble on about the latter’s all-round wonderfulness and lovableness for the first four paragraphs... and then, a paragraph from the bottom, you realise that the deceased in question had died in a drunken brawl started by him on the way back from the pub and this was something he had done many times before. (Started a brawl, that is. Not died.) Or else he had a criminal record for robbery with violence, or for abusing women, or for abandoning children and family, or was in a gang. Or lots of other things, none of which could be considered compatible with the glowing character description in the first few paragraphs.

I do realise that the news content is down to the reporter, and the order of paragraphs is down to the editor who passes that report for publication. So I guess my annoyance is 99% directed at them, not at the relatives of the deceased. (I hope that this mitigating factor in my otherwise mean and nasty character will be well publicised on my demise, and the rest omitted.) After all, there’s every chance that even despicable people have someone who loves them and isn't ashamed to admit it.

Why does being dead automatically add a halo to the character of the deceased even if in life they were anything but deserving of it? And if the glitter on the halo after death is directly proportional to evilness that went before, then shouldn't we be worshipping people like Hitler or Saddam Hussein?


Anonymous said...

i know exactly what you mean. see what happened to sanjay gandhi or bhutto... nobody talks about their corruption. at least not as much as they must.

Anonymous said...

When you are alive, you are peeled layer by layer or shredded to pieces. Once dead, the very beings who caused you hell talk everything nice about you. That's downright sickening!

Teesu (very very Indian, very very good) said...

Hmm. I have been quite firm in not changing my tune about someone just because he / she is dead. What does death change really, when it comes to opinions? What are people afraid of?