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As most of you already know, Paul Walker was killed in an automobile accident yesterday. My first reaction when I hear about any celebrity dying is sadness, because I know that in the case of actors, musicians, and other artists they were just normal people that were courageous enough to pursue their dreams and talents, and happened to become famous in the process. Other than those rare heirs and heiresses, no one is born into fortune and notoriety. Most celebrities have to work hard to achieve fame and in the process we get to know them, in some small way. Whether it’s following their tweets, or going out to see their performances (usually making memories in the process), or even an innocent celebrity crush, celebrities impact our lives.

Is it right that the media glorifies celebrities? Is it right that their private lives are put on display in order to make this connection happen? That’s a post for another time…

Just like I did when it was rumored that ‘Lil Wayne died, when I heard the news about Mr. Walker I joined most of my Facebook friends in posting a status about my sadness regarding his passing (my exact words were “RIP Paul Walker”). The closest connection I ever had to him was in a Dave & Busters in Honolulu when I was there with friends the night of my thirteenth birthday. Even then, being the nerdy girl I was, I only knew he was there when a girlfriend started freaking out and told me who he was. I have never seen a Fast and the Furious film all the way through, I’ve never watched his interviews, or anything that would classify me as anything more than a casual fan. That being said, I was still sad that the world lost a talented individual. As the hours passed my Facebook wall was filled with dozens of posts exclaiming sadness and disbelief. Some people voiced their sadness for his family, other admired his good looks and films, but I also saw another type of post: people that were vehemently angry that fans were grieving his death. “Where are your priorities?” “Why don’t you grieve the death of soldiers?” “Who cares?” “Why do you care, you didn’t know him?” This really struck a cord with me…

People shouldn’t care about someone’s death because they didn’t know them personally? People should mourn certain people’s deaths more than others? Hmmm, I’ve heard the same thing from a few religious zealots about people they deem unworthy. In my opinion, death is sad no matter what a person’s position in society is. We should all be treated equally after-all, right? We don’t know the people in Darfur on a personal level, but should we not be sad that millions of people have died? I didn’t know any holocaust victims on a personal level, but I am still shaken to my core when I read accounts of their genocide. I understand that the media doesn’t glorify the 19 year old boy from Ohio that joined the Army and was disabled by an I.E.D nor does the media push images of 30-something National Guard soldiers with families that come back from Afghanistan with debilitating PTSD, in the same capacity or with the same fervor that they push Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. One could argue both the positives and negatives of the American media, but no matter what the media does or doesn’t do, if I am impacted by a person, no matter their profession, I am going to be sad if they die.

Paul Walker’s loved one’s are feeling the same pain and sadness that millions of people’s relatives feel everyday when they receive the news that their loved one has died. The only difference is millions of people aren’t aware of Mr. Jones that died alone in his apartment of a heart attack and therefore millions of people can’t and won’t grieve his death, but why is that anyone’s fault?  Paul Walker worked hard to become famous and a side effect of that fame, combined with the priorities and interests of our culture and media, meant that his life and work was seen by millions of people. A young soldier, or middle aged cop, although they sacrifice more on a daily basis, are not the objects of media attention and therefore we do not know when to grieve their deaths.

I will ask you this: who deserves our grief and why?