I can feel it starting to happen. More and more, I’m able to answer the question of “Where were you when [insert event]”, rather than it being followed by “oh, you’re too young to remember”.
The moments that people will talk about are happening now. I suppose I keep forgetting that people lived all the history you learn about in schools. The people who lived through the world wars seem like people I couldn’t understand or relate to. Ah, the perspective of youth. But our generation has its own historic events, like 9/11 and the Iraq war, that children of the future will read about in text books. Some of us might even be teaching it.
The older you get, the more memories you have, the more things you’ll have been part of and that’s a strange realisation. I feel like I’ll have to be a record keeper and know the details of this war or that law that made all the difference to humanity as a whole. But I’m not sure I can remember it all.
What we are likely to remember are the things that happen in our “cultural” lives, such as TV shows, movies, or even the passing of great musicians like Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson. These are subjects we’ll have to teach people about because they won’t just be around them (apart from repeats on Dave).
I’ve been thinking about how these events can impact on our lives. And they do, trivial as they might seem to some. Each of us is invested to a degree in certain celebrity figures. Their actions in life, and in death, can make us feel and experience things for the first time.
I’ve been drawn to this thought primarily by the recent death of Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson in Glee. Glee is one of my favourite shows because of the scope that it encompasses: the underdog, the music, the LGBT elements, the mistakes of youth and the satirical setting. To be honest, Finn wasn’t my favourite character, but he definitely had a place on the show. He was one of the original cast members who filmed twelve episodes of a musical dramedy with no comprehension of how big the show would be when it aired.
While his death is shocking and sudden in many ways, I find myself thinking about the audience of the show, particularly the young ones (“Wont somebody please think of the children?!”). Children who may or may not know the actor has died, (though they all seem to have mobile phones and they probably know how to use the Internet). Soon they will have to face the character’s death in the show when it returns after the summer. The third episodes of the fifth season will focus on Finn’s death. How will they handle this? How are they going to keep it, as Ryan Murphy has said, upbeat, while still being a memorial? Hard to know, but the viewers will remember this.
My only guide comes from my own memory of seeing how 8 Simple Rules dealt with the death of John Ritter, who played the father on the show. His character had supposedly gone out for milk and collapses in the store. In the episodes in tribute to his death, the actors show overwhelmingly powerful emotions, saying a genuine goodbye through the characters they portrayed alongside him. Nothing too complex or showy, but powerful and respectful. I’m confident Ryan Murphy can do the same.