Celebrity Death, Netflix vs Digital Nomads and Introducing the Enthusiastic Amateur
It’s been quite a week (month, year) for celebrity death and I’m certainly not going to be the first or last to talk about the subject this week. I am going to mostly talk about Bowie, because I was a bigger fan of his work than say, Alan Rickman, but also for other reasons I will come to. Whilst we’re here I should also briefly mention the death of John Bradbury, drummer with The Specials. He actually died on December 28th of 2015 and wasn’t part of the new 69 club, but was 62. Being a slighter smaller profile musician and dying the same week as Lemmy from Motorhead, his death was somewhat overshadowed. The Specials were one of the most influential bands to my musical life and remain one of my favourite bands. John himself was a fantastic solid drummer and influenced many players, bringing ska drumming into a more mainstream sound, combining jazz, lounge and even some jungle style rhythms throughout his career. They didn’t necessarily influence me musically, but from their attitude and motivated me to want to get on a stage in the first place. They were also a favourite band of my Mother who would listen to their songs whilst pregnant with me, so they’re a band who have been with me since the beginning.
Which brings me nicely to…
I am typically not that affected by celebrity deaths, but Bowie’s (like many other people) hit me hard. Firstly due to his output and omnipresence across generations, when someone has always been in your life, it’s hard to face the fact that they’ve gone. But there were other reasons his death affected me, due to connections to my life. My Dad played with Bowie, way back when he was still David Jones. This isn’t as impressive as it may sound, a lot of musicians played with him back in those days, but this and Bowie’s connection to my hometown of south east London made everything feel closer to me. With my Dad hitting 69 in a month, it also started making him feel sensitive and vulnerable and he has been increasingly speaking about his own death the past few months, which is always an awkward conversation to be had.
These deaths have also made me wonder which artists of our generation will receive as much adulation and celebration in their deaths. I find it hard to think of anyone who has and will have the same impact for 40 years from our generations.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, who alive and creating today do you think could (and maybe should) receive the same response to their death in 20 years?
The Cult of Celebrity Death
I have generally had an ambivalent outlook to death and this included celebrity death. I think this was the first time that I understood why people may get upset about the deaths of people they didn’t personally know. Being affected by death is a trait of humanity and people are motivated to become famous because they want to affect people and want to leave a legacy. I may not agree with all the celebrities society chooses to pour their hearts out over, but at least I now understand better why they might want to.
Netflix vs the Digital Nomad or the Internet we Love
Yes, this is a ‘clickbait’ title, and it just fit nicely with the first theme, I’m not saying that the concept of being a ‘Digital Nomad’ is nearing death, but several items of recent news have certainly added a few nails to the coffin. Well, I feel like they have anyway. Whilst this lifestyle is increasingly popular, we sometimes forget that to most it is considered unusual and that most World governments are not geared towards supporting this lifestyle.
These thoughts have been percolating in my mind for a while now, writing something about them strangely triggered by Netflix’s news they were cracking down on VPN usage. This was combined with the far more serious continuing news this year of continuing strengthening and closing of borders around the World.
Whilst they are very different topics, to me, they represent ways that the World may be slowly turning against the nomadic way that I and many others like to lead our lives. We have been incredibly lucky over the past twenty years or so with the widespread free (as in reign) internet, fairly open travel possibilities and a widespread attitude that people moving around is ‘a good idea’. For those of us who like to take advantage of this lifestyle we don’t really consider or identify ourselves as being of any particular nation, citizenship, or ‘home’. The internet has been a miracle for us and we don’t always want to access the services of the country that we are currently in, but rather those of another, or multiple ones. Netflix has always been a great service for this, and by using a simple VPN one could switch between regions to suit your various cultural requirements. Of course I understand all about licensing and that for Netflix to be taken more seriously as a viable business in more territories it needs to tow the line. I also recognise that for Netflix to meet their hopeful end goal of making ‘international licensing’ (something long over due generally) a reality, they need to first make some compromises to the industry. Still, we all know that will be a long way coming and whilst I know there will always be ways around the restrictions Netflix plans to put in place, it’s another set back for those of us who like to live a little left of mainstream.
I think this is a topic I will be revisiting repeatedly throughout 2016.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this topic before or not, but this an experiment in ‘personal branding’ and maybe a book idea for the future. It’s not ready yet but I was again reminded of my motivation behind the idea this week. In summary, I have always been something of a generalist, I get bored quickly and like to know a little bit about lots of things, to use the intended catchphrase for the project, “Learn how to excel in being average at everything”. However, I mix with a lot of intensely enthusiastic and skilled people, technology, games and music are all areas full of people with such extreme interest and experience in their field. I personally have no issue with not being an expert in anything, it has worked well for me, but I frequently meet people who seem surprised that I don’t share their intensity. This may say more about them more than me but one of the worst aspects of being an ‘enthusiastic amateur’ is feeling inadequate about your level of knowledge compared to others, I often sit in a room and feel inferior, wishing I had spent my life deep diving into one topic instead of what I have done.
What are your thoughts on this? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these life choices?
All of the Weekly Squeak posts are accompanied by a podcast where I go more in-depth into the topic, subscribe here or listen to the individual episode to the left.