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      CommentAuthortedcroland
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2011 edited
     (10070.21)
    She did A LOT of drugs, for sure, but making her out to be a caricature of some drug floozy is unfair. Everyone has a pathology and a history, they react to the things that happen to them differently from others. I can think of exactly no people on here that know what it's like to be a singer-songwriter superstar, and I defy any of you, sympathizer or not, to remark in a way that shows a true understanding or empathy for her upbringing, personality, and impetus for her behaviors. Until you learn a lot more about her as a person, err on the side of sympathy and just say it sucks that she died and that she seems to have had kind of a shitty life based on what little information we each have about the person she was.

    It is beyond me as to why someone would be angry or dismissive in the face of a person's death, regardless of your evaluation of the way they lived their lives.

    Pain is pain. We all know what pain is. Empathy, people; let's be adults about this.

    Edited to add: Also, of course she was talented, I would think that someone taking that away from her is taking their criticisms of the way she lived her life waaay too far, to the point of self-important external examination possibly to avoid introspection at all costs for fear of realizing the shittiness of the self. I hope I am coherent.
  1.  (10070.22)
    Art Grafunkel: that's beautiful.

    Andre: You make drug problems sound simplistic. They are not. And I think you know what he meant, no matter if she "brought it upon hersels" the people taking delight in the death of others make me feel sick right now. I'm not saying you are one of them, but one still seems a bit like an over-intellectual five-year-old when putting it that way in which you did.


    I think the simplistic view is to talk about her as if she's a complete victim, which is what I've seen along with the equally simplistic "she brought it upon herself", and it's why I'm stressing this point. I don't ignore the vicious hooks of drug addiction, but I can't treat her as a helpless child either. I'm also thinking of the people who tried their damnedest to help her and the frustration they must be feeling now. Drug addiction reaches beyond the drug addict, who is not freed of responsibility over their fate. In some cases, you could say the people around them are more helpless than they are, watching someone they love destroy themselves and trying -- often unsuccessfully -- to prevent it.

    @Andre,

    I was bewildered by the apparent callousness of some of the comments I'd seen, bordering on the vindictive - the 'I have no sympathy and don't care, she was an addict' type of thing. In some cases from people I had some respect for. Touched a raw nerve.


    People don't cease to be human because they're addicted to drugs, so that aspect of the comments annoys me too. But one must admit Winehouse displayed a "I don't give two shits" attitude which was frustrating to everyone who cared about her, which might explain some of that anger.

    Callousness more like fact. Maybe Andre and others aren't treating it with the kid glove that her fans would appreciate.
    The only reason 99% know her was a song about refusing to get help and living with the consequences and these are the consequences. When you don't care other people tend not to care.


    It's important to point out that "Rehab" wasn't a song written with the intention of glorifying refusal to get treatment. It's autobiographical, as was the album it belonged to, and seems to portray her mindset during the events the song talks about. Even then, as I said above, she did display a "oh, fuck it" attitude most of the time.

    And I think the reason I've seen more from people about this than Norway is that people feel personally touched by music, but unless they know someone in Norway, there's a slight sense of detachment from the event.


    I felt much worse about Norway, which is why I'm not saying much about it. I don't know what to say. It's horrifying and stunned me speechless.

    I think there's a disconnect here in that it's hard for many people to conceptualize that someone indulging in all manner of excessive drug use may actually not enjoying themselves on the way down. A woman who completely reduces herself like that is living a tortuous existence.


    True, but her own role in making things worse for herself shouldn't be ignored either.
  2.  (10070.23)
    Yeah...I apologize if I seemed too insensitive, with my comments, back in the "Around the Net" thread. The Oslo thing is much more important, an attack by a senseless madman outweighs the death of popular musician. But on the subject of Miss Winehouse, I wish I could have been a bigger fan. She had a sexy, mysterious voice, that seemed to echo Etta, Ella, and the other ladies you would hear in a smokey bar in the 1930s. But for some odd reason, I just never got into her. There was just....something.....missing....
  3.  (10070.24)
    For some reason, her voice was like Drunken Kung Fu. Just when I thought she would miss about every note in that phrase, lose at least three words in a sentence, fall flat on her dirty knees, it would somehow all swagger and swing to the left, to the right, and end up as the most beautifull note you ever heard.

    Well, she DID fall flat on her dirty knees a fair amount of times, both professionally and personally, but to me her awesome makes up for her awfull.
    •  
      CommentAuthorrazrangel
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2011
     (10070.25)
    I was directed to this blog entry of Russel Brand's, and I must admit I almost didn't bother to read it. I never figured Mr Brand and I would see eye to eye on anything...yadda yadda.. but it was remarkable in how much I nodded in agreement with just about everything he wrote. Or at least I could see familiarity. I've avoided addiction, probably just through luck of the genetic draw, certainly not from avoiding the drugs themselves. But I have friends - or had - who weren't so lucky.

    Maybe I'm just glad that I heard Amy Winehouse sing before I knew anything about her. A friend of mine pointed to her Web site and said I'd like what I heard and he was only too right. I don't know what I would have thought, or if I would have bothered to listen, had I first heard of all of her travails.

    Maybe I'm just riled up that this is still happening that drugs are part and parcel of fame and society is structured to expect both out of rising talent; for all the words I've read against the record labels etc who push their artists to always be on and producing, I don't hear one word about the "friends" who are always on hand with the stuff to keep the party going.

    Wrote a bit more but then deleted it. YEah, I'm a bit angry. Love Ms Winehouse's music. And I miss my friends.
  4.  (10070.26)
    @Raz

    Thanks for posting that Russel Brand blog.

    I'm somewhat indifferent to Any Winehouse; I never listened to her music, other than hearing "Rehab" here or there. Since I had nothing nice (or really anything at all) to say regarding her death, I did the polite thing and just kept my mouth shut on the subject.

    Russel brand as well, I can take him or leave him. I've found some of his stand-up hilarious, and I've found other things he's done repetitive.

    This, however, I will pass on to others. If you know someone who is dealing with addiction, then you should read his post. It hit very close to home; I'm afraid of that phone call all of the time.
  5.  (10070.27)
    That post is well worth a read. Thanks for the link, Raz.
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      CommentAuthorAlastair
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2011
     (10070.28)
    i saw her play once, it was her glastonbury "comeback" show. she came out and did 25 minutes of INCREDIBLE r&b (i was not a fan in the slightest but i became one for those moments) then... the drink or drugs or whatever it was hit her and she fell apart. she lost songs half way through, wandered off stage and ended up punching an audience member before being dragged off stage running 10 minutes over time. her band were the best backing band i've ever seen and together they could have taken over the world.

    i have first and second hand experience of drug addiction and feel bad for her family, friends and fans who were rooting for her until the end. a great talent that went to waste....

    ALSO: just because people are being sad about Amy Winehouse does not mean they can't be shocked and disgusted by the events in Norway. I for one have the capacity to feel many emotions about a myriad of subjects.
    • CommentAuthorodarable
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2011 edited
     (10070.29)
    Yeah, they aren't the same but then again they shouldn't be compared in the first place. And by the way I was never a fan - but I still care. Love Russell's blog post.
    • CommentAuthorMathias B
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2011
     (10070.30)
    To me, she was an amazing, raw soul singer with the potential to write and record truly great things. Shame that we will never get to hear them. But the records she did make have some genuinely breathtaking moments that will probably sound just as vital twenty years from now.

    (Also: I suspect that if she were a man with a leather jacket and a guitar, the media coverage of her life and death would be more in terms of "tortured genius" rather than "sad junkie". I mean, it's possible she was actually both. But then, so was/is Nick Cave and Jimi Hendrix.)
    • CommentAuthorjonah
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2011
     (10070.31)
    Science tells us that the brain treats mental and physical pain the same, doesn't it? Let's be honest, drugs work and work damn well for stoping pain. Short term and there'll be hell to pay in side effects, but that's not the point. Too much drug treatment is centered around telling the patient to "will" the pain away rather than giving them a treatment that works. It's inhumane.

    Whenever a celebrity dies due to drug complications some people make negative comments that either imply or state outright that because they had money and success they shoulda been able to deal. The thing is, that kinda thinking (something external will solve your problems) is what fuels drug abuse/addiction.

    I wonder if seeking fame/money is itself an attempt for some to banish their own personal demons? I imagine it must feel incredibly shitty to put in the work to become famous and then find out that it doesn't fix anything.

    Related: Kevin Smith's writing about Jason Mewe's addiction.
    Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9
  6.  (10070.32)
    ALSO: just because people are being sad about Amy Winehouse does not mean they can't be shocked and disgusted by the events in Norway. I for one have the capacity to feel many emotions about a myriad of subjects.


    Agreed.

    @Jonah: That is an exceptional piece of writing by Smith and it increases my respect for him (a bit shaken due to his recent childish tantrums). Thanks for the links. But I do take issue with one thing from part one:

    Those who’ve never struggled with drug dependency themselves, or loved anybody who has, will often dismiss the props more empathetic folks extend to the ex-junkie with caustic bon mots along the lines of “So he/she quit drugs? Big deal. Why celebrate someone for finally exhibiting common sense? They didn’t have to get hooked in the first place. It’s not like someone held a gun to their head and told them to try drugs.” Oftentimes, these are the same people who think being gay is a choice, too.

    But in the case of drug abusers, not every addict has the luxury of choosing a glamorous existence of despair, lies, theft and self-loathing. Some people are born genetically predisposed to chasing the dragon.


    True, but to equate predisposition with lack of choice is a slippery slope. I'm an impulsive person by nature, but if that leads me to do something stupid, it's still my fault and I should be called out on it. Also, coming from a family of chimneys with legs, I am very predisposed to smoke cigarettes. I craved them before I ever smoked my first one, which I did to kill the curiosity and also my will to smoke them -- which is still there, but somewhat abated by the memory of having respiratory difficulties when I tried to sleep that same night.

    There are cases in which drugs are forced on people, but in most cases it's still a choice -- one that some are more tempted towards than others, but a choice nonetheless. Regardless of whether or not they got to choose, though, all drug addicts should be helped -- but I think it's important not to let them think their life is completely out of their control. Ultimately, they and only they can make the other choice of seeking help and getting clean, and a "I'm predisposed to do this shit" mindset probably isn't helpful, especially to the recovering addict who's trying to remain clean. It's important to know when you've fucked up and who you've hurt in the process and what you stand to lose so it'll be easier not to do it again.

    Let's be honest, drugs work and work damn well for stoping pain. Short term and there'll be hell to pay in side effects, but that's not the point.


    Wait, yes, it is kind of an important point. Ultimately, abusing drugs does not help stop pain at all and in fact causes way more pain and not just to you.

    I wonder if seeking fame/money is itself an attempt for some to banish their own personal demons? I imagine it must feel incredibly shitty to put in the work to become famous and then find out that it doesn't fix anything.


    The personal demons might come with the fame and money, too. It's not easy to deal with fame, especially when, like Winehouse, you have a peculiarly large quantity of papparazi vermin on your ass all day long.
  7.  (10070.33)
    It's important to know when you've fucked up and who you've hurt in the process and what you stand to lose so it'll be easier not to do it again.


    Wrong. That's just not how it works. It is not a decision of weighing pros and cons. Your cigarette smoking allegory is not really appropriate or equivalent in this discussion. That's like saying you have a choice to be depressed, because if you wanted to, there is nothing keeping you from walking outside and being social with the world and smiling at children. A depressed person can tell themselves how much better they'd feel if they just showered, if they just did something enjoyable, but it doesn't come. And addiction is no different. It's not about wanting. It's not about choices. It's about constantly clamoring forward and still just sinking deeper in.
  8.  (10070.34)
    Rach-
    Was clinical depression the root of her doing drugs? An attempt at coping?
  9.  (10070.35)
    @Rae:

    Your cigarette smoking allegory is not really appropriate or equivalent in this discussion. That's like saying you have a choice to be depressed, because if you wanted to, there is nothing keeping you from walking outside and being social with the world and smiling at children.


    The cigarette story was meant to reinforce an argument that a genetic predisposition to take drugs is not the same as having no choice in the matter. Perhaps overly personal, yes, but I wasn't talking about depression, let alone implying that depressed people can will themselves into not being depressed.

    And addiction is no different.


    It's not the same. Depression will just take hold of one's mind and make everything seem gray and pointless and lifeless. I might wake up like that tomorrow. But I won't wake up with a heroin addiction, unless someone jabs a needle in my arm while I sleep.

    It's not about wanting. It's not about choices. It's about constantly clamoring forward and still just sinking deeper in.


    If it didn't include choice and will, all drug addicts would be dead or dying. You're making it sound like people break out of drug addiction by sheer dumb luck, or go into drug addiction solely due to depression.

    @Roo:

    Was clinical depression the root of her doing drugs? An attempt at coping?


    She's claimed to suffer from depression, and there were scars in her arms. She's also said, when asked what her worst vice is: "Mainly that I'm quite reckless and always throw caution to the wind." In that same interview, when asked what her parents thought of her tattoos, Winehouse said, "My parents pretty much realized that I would do whatever I wanted, and that was it, really." Indeed, her mother famously prophesized her death: ""I realize my daughter could be dead within the year. We're watching her kill herself, slowly. I've already come to terms with her dead. I've steeled myself to ask her what ground she wants to be buried in, which cemetery. Because the drugs will get her if she stays on this road. I look at Heath Ledger... She's on (his) path. It's like watching a car crash -- this person throwing all these gifts away." From that latter link: "When the infamous crack video emerged, Mitch Winehouse said he wanted to get her sectioned under England's Mental Health Act to force her to clean up, but couldn't. 'You might consider taking drugs is a danger to herself, but unfortunately the authorities don't,' he said. As for her attitude, 'Part of the problem is she doesn't think she's got a problem. She thinks she can do what she does recreationally and get on with the rest of her life.'"

    The stories about Amy Winehouse do not paint the picture of a helpless victim. It doesn't make her death any less sad either way and it doesn't take away from her art in any way, but I think it's an important distinction to make.
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      CommentAuthorrazrangel
    • CommentTimeJul 26th 2011
     (10070.36)
    It's not the same. Depression will just take hold of one's mind and make everything seem gray and pointless and lifeless. I might wake up like that tomorrow. But I won't wake up with a heroin addiction, unless someone jabs a needle in my arm while I sleep.

    That's fails to take into account the fact that *everyone* has days when they wake up feeling like the world is gray and uninteresting, feeling hollow inside and like there's a gulf between them everyone else. Everyone has these feelings every once in a while. But depressed people like you or I feel like that so often it's part of our personality, so much that we have to work around it, and to such a degree that we'll have to bear its scars for the rest of our lives, even if we've successfully gotten treated.

    If it didn't include choice and will, all drug addicts would be dead or dying. You're making it sound like people break out of drug addiction by sheer dumb luck, or go into drug addiction solely due to depression.

    If it didn't ALSO include disposition then everyone who ever drank a beer or tried a puff would be screwed. Only a fraction of people who try a drug get addicted - the size of the fraction depends on the insidiousness of the drug, it's true, but the point is not everyone gets hooked. And when you're partying and you see other people try it and walk away unscathed rolling the dice doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

    You're making it sound like if only Amy Winehouse had just said "no" the very first time, like Nancy Reagan said to, it all would have been hunky dorry. That's a stunning lack of appreciation for the pervasiveness of drugs, the monstrously desperate mentality that seeks any release from the demands of life and finally how completely drug addiction overwrites someone's mind and motives. By the time a drug addict is really in the throes of addiction every single action and choice is made to support their addiction, period. Choice is an illusion for anyone who can't think past getting her next fix.
  10.  (10070.37)
    That's fails to take into account the fact that *everyone* has days when they wake up feeling like the world is gray and uninteresting, feeling hollow inside and like there's a gulf between them everyone else. Everyone has these feelings every once in a while. But depressed people like you or I feel like that so often it's part of our personality, so much that we have to work around it, and to such a degree that we'll have to bear its scars for the rest of our lives, even if we've successfully gotten treated.


    I didn't take it into account because having feelings similar to depression every once in a while is not the same as depression, and what I was discussing is the difference between that and drug addiction. At their initial stage, at least. Depression might just come at you. Perhaps for a clear reason, perhaps not, but it sinks its hooks into you in a manner that I see as different from becoming hooked to a drug.

    If it didn't ALSO include disposition then everyone who ever drank a beer or tried a puff would be screwed. Only a fraction of people who try a drug get addicted - the size of the fraction depends on the insidiousness of the drug, it's true, but the point is not everyone gets hooked. And when you're partying and you see other people try it and walk away unscathed rolling the dice doesn't seem like that big of a deal.


    But it's still up to you to try. That's my point. To me, for example, rolling the dice on something like this does seem like a big deal. To other people, it's not. Different views, yes. Maybe I'm being overly careful, or maybe they're being reckless. Or maybe we're being just as careful as our respective organisms require. But still, at least in the example you gave: it's up to you.

    You're making it sound like if only Amy Winehouse had just said "no" the very first time, like Nancy Reagan said to, it all would have been hunky dorry. That's a stunning lack of appreciation for the pervasiveness of drugs, the monstrously desperate mentality that seeks any release from the demands of life and finally how completely drug addiction overwrites someone's mind and motives. By the time a drug addict is really in the throes of addiction every single action and choice is made to support their addiction, period. Choice is an illusion for anyone who can't think past getting her next fix.


    I'm not talking about whether Amy Winehouse -- or anyone -- should say "yes" or "no" to drugs. I'm talking about the existence of that very choice, which I feel is being generally understated. Is there always a choice? No. Some people are forcibly drugged. But if there is a choice, is it always an easy choice to make? Hell, no. People are very different and react differently to problems of varying degrees of shittiness. But did you make the choice regardless? In most cases, I think so. Maybe it was worth it, maybe it really wasn't. Why do I consider this an important point? Because I want to go around to drug addicts and tell them, "It's your fucking fault"? No. I just think the "it's stronger than me" mentality is not helpful. You got into this, you can get out. Is this more helpful or less helpful? (That might sound like a provocation, but I mean it as a genuine question)
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      CommentAuthoroldhat
    • CommentTimeJul 26th 2011 edited
     (10070.38)
    I think this is the first thread I've seen where Andre was actually unpopular.

    I'll throw in my two cents and then leave it alone, I think. A key quote that Andre quoted was this:

    "'Part of the problem is she doesn't think she's got a problem. She thinks she can do what she does recreationally and get on with the rest of her life.'"

    As someone who has a predisposition to have a bit of dependence on (pretend to be shocked, now) booze and have found myself tip off the deep end more than once I can relate to that. drugs and alcohol are a HELL of a great way to escape from things as menial as day-to-day pressures to as intense as hordes of fans and members of the press expecting something of you day in, day out. And all of that combined with a kind of shame that a lot of us feel, which is that somehow we're fucking up things. Dulling those feelings of pressure inside you are what makes drugs and alcohol so damn appealing for some. And a big problem with it all is that you acknowledge that you're taking these things, you're acknowledging that you're enjoying these things, but it's really really hard to acknowledge that you are not totally in control of it all and you aren't as bad as other people think you are (after all, who knows you better than yourself, right?). I got to a point where I was coming in to 8.30am classes with a large water bottle filled with orange juice and vodka and I thought I was totally fine and in control. In all honesty, I would have kept going down that road if I hadn't woken up in Hospital one night, after having passed out on the train to a point where I couldn't be woken up. I consider myself lucky, because it can take way more than that to stop someone who firmly believes they are in control.

    And that's it, really. To be quite a few addicts, not all, but quite a few, don't even think there's a problem and I think Winehouse was of that mentality.

    Can it be stopped? Well, yeah. But it's not as easy as just saying "Okay, I'm done". There's admitting that you aren't in control of this (which as I've said, is incredibly hard to do) and then there's the oft times even more difficult thing of getting off the stuff. It takes a lot more will power than some would think to not slip in to that way of dealing with things. I had to stop drinking for a solid year before I could trust myself with a pint and even then it's all up in the air. So yeah, it can be stopped, but there's a lot of things that need to be hurdled first including ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND WILL and even then, it's a lot harder doing it than saying you will.

    I don't know where I was going with this.
  11.  (10070.39)
    @oldhat:

    I think this is the first thread I've seen where Andre was actually unpopular.


    Hahahaha, well, people had to get tired of me being constantly right about everything.

    But seriously, I'm glad you were and are able to deal with alcohol dependency. I'm not sure I'd call it luck -- it takes away your credit for having dealt with it. In my case, I rarely drink because I doubt I'd be able to keep it under control. I'm already prone to depression, and I believe that if I made drinking a habit, I'd depend on it to feel okay and I'd be fucked. I don't trust my self-control once I get addicted, as the world's depleting coca-cola reserves show. And that's coca-cola. Imagine the disaster if it was something tougher than that.

    And that's it, really. To be quite a few addicts, not all, but quite a few, don't even think there's a problem and I think Winehouse was of that mentality.


    Nah, she knew. Admitted it a few times. Probably changed her mind on the subject back and forth. Point being, she had shocks too. Hers pretty much consisted of staggering around the stage unable to remember the lyrics to her own songs while the audience booed and walked out. Regardless of how difficult it was for her to get better and how hard she tried, I don't think her self-awareness was that bad.
  12.  (10070.40)
    Depression might just come at you. Perhaps for a clear reason, perhaps not, but it sinks its hooks into you in a manner that I see as different from becoming hooked to a drug.


    Different? Well, it's not.

    Like as in depression, the brain stops being able to feel enjoyment - that is, UNLESS the substance at hand is administered. It doesn't hit everyone the same way, or at the same time. Therein lies a sense of false security. People around you are enjoying things all the time without seeming WRECKED by them. And even with that danger, there is always the curiosity (instinctive to those with genetic predisposition). Sort of like how you were still willing to take a puff of that cigarette, knowing that your family all smokes. Your ability to go to bed that night and not be a raging smoker (while patting yourself on the back for acknowledging that your throat felt scratchy and was therefore the cons outweighted the pros) does NOT mean that you have uncovered and thus now understand the genetic predisposition of addiction, and what it's like to be tempted to stick a toe in the water of substance abuse. Knowing that it causes cancer and that your family all smokes, well, you tried it anyway, didn't you?

    If that first cigarette was ok, but each got better until the 8th made you feel awesome.... and then the next day, the lack of those cigarettes put you in a deep depression where you couldn't feel joy, well, what would you do? Would you smoke to feel human again? Or would you suffer in pain while your brain and body raged against you and you felt nothing but agony and emptiness? An agony so strong that it could crush that polly anna "think about the people around you who care about you that you'll hurt!" sort of thought with the same kind of ease with which you'd crush a fairy in your fist.

    The body's system of self preservation begins clinging to the wrong life raft, but every instinct is telling it to find what it thinks keeps you alive, keeps you not in pain. Telling your brain to not do everything in it's power to obtain the object of your addiction is like telling someone starving to death that food will make them worse.

    Addiction is an autoimmune disease of the mind and spirit.

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