Guest / Limited Access /
Not Another Celebrity Death Post
Image: Katy Steinmetz

Alissa's note: I struggle - like a lot of you, I suspect - with how to process the death of celebrities who both seem important to me and have nothing to do with me at all. How do we grieve in a social media age? So, I asked one of our regular critics, Ken Morefield, to give us his thoughts. Here's his answer.

The news came, as it so often does these days, via Facebook. Hannah (not her real name), a fierce, funny, former student—one of the few bright spots from my two year stint at a university where I just didn’t fit—had untreatable cancer.

She was not the first former student forced to grapple with her own mortality while my own day of reckoning still lay comfortably over what I hoped was a distant horizon. The truth is, professors face premature mortality a lot more often than I ever anticipated. Work at a university that is big enough (or at a smaller one long enough) and someone’s shortened life will be your inevitable hard reminder of the law of averages.

Responding to death in the public sphere is not a challenge unique to any generation or profession. But it certainly feels as though the changing times have affected how frequently the professorate and the fourth estate—two groups of which I am a long-standing member—are asked to meet that challenge. Weak ties that might previously have been updated once a year in an alumni newsletter or renewed years down the line at an academic reunion now proliferate through social media. Entertainment journalism increasingly means disseminating news about celebrities rather than merely reviewing their work. Plus we are raising a generation that has lived its entire life on Facebook and doesn’t know how to do anything—including ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
Previous Watch This Way Columns:
Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueAn Inside Look at China’s Remarkable Religious Resurgence
Subscriber Access Only
An Inside Look at China’s Remarkable Religious Resurgence
Journalist Ian Johnson sees faith on the rise where it was once ruthlessly suppressed.
RecommendedIn ‘Logan’, Wolverine Confronts the Wages of Sin
In ‘Logan’, Wolverine Confronts the Wages of Sin
Hugh Jackman's final performance as the iconic mutant brings him face to face with his own mortality.
TrendingRussia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Russia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Group gives Protestants competition for souls, but also an ally on religious freedom.
Editor's PickFrom Kuyper to Keller: Why Princeton’s Prize Controversy Is So Ironic
From Kuyper to Keller: Why Princeton’s Prize Controversy Is So Ironic
Former winner explains how the seminary honor that once brought the Reformed community together is now splitting it.
Christianity Today
Not Another Celebrity Death Post
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

August 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.