I see Dead People and I Don't Want To
I was born into a family with problems, the foremost being that no one was really in charge of the household. As a result there were all these boundary issues to sort through as we kids grew up. For readers unfamiliar with the details of said issues, they basically address the line between where my rights end and yours begin. It’s about respect and feeling somehow entitled to intrude upon the personal lives and interests of others when we have no business doing so.
I thought about this seeing the photo of Whitney Houston in her casket at the checkout yesterday. Supposedly the editor of the National Enquirer, who published the photo, justified the decision by saying how beautiful Whitney looked.
Editor, that is no reason to do such a thing. Ever.
As crazy as my family was, we had some sense of at least a few of the biggies when it came to intrusions. Case in point - when the Polish side of the family would gather together when I was a kid and someone would start passing around casket pictures whether or not others wanted to see them. I asked Mom once if that was an okay thing to do, and she expressed concern. “Some people might want to remember a person they loved, even the way they looked after they died,” she said. “But I don’t like the idea of these pictures being shoved in front of anyone’s face. Death is a private thing.”
Mom, I’m giving this one to you. You were exactly right.
I personally dislike people posting, passing around, or displaying photos of me I think are ugly, and last time I looked, I am alive. Surely we all have a sense of what that feels like – it’s a violation, a lack of respect. If a person is dead and thus loses censorship ability, in my book it doesn’t mean they have lost the rights to their image.
If Whitney’s ex, Bobby Brown did this, no doubt putting WH’s mother and daughter into protracted and special agony until the new issue of the Enquirer comes out, then I will be very disgusted on the Houston family’s behalf. I may have never have been a fan of any of them, but I am standing up for my fellow woman here.
I hate the thought that the incivility too often expressed our culture is now extending to our treatment of the deceased. That feels like an ultimate boundary issue being crossed, and we need to stop buying into the idea that it’s okay in the face of ridiculous justifications. It’s not.