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Tuesday 26 July 2011

Tributes to Amy Winehouse that aren't really...

Before we begin, I'd like to make it clear that the purpose of this article is to judge someone and find them lacking, and pick apart and crticise something they have done, rather than to pay tribute to Amy Winehouse. Why dress something up as being a tribute to Amy Winehouse when it is actually just a smug and hate fuelled commentary on somebody else's inadequacy?

Well, actually, that is the very question I would like to ask the subject of today's rant - some jive ass Clyde at the Daily Mail called Amanda Platell.

Platell's article is entitled "Genius, but Amy's was not a life to admire". I can't quite figure out what that even is. Is it patronising? Did she think that before she bestowed that wisdom upon us we were all greeting every one of life's problems by contemplating, "What would Amy Winehouse do?"? And what is with the "Genius" bit? Don't get me wrong, I bloody loved Amy Winehouse, but even to her biggest fan that is hyperbole, surely? In this context, it just sounds kind of insincere and apologetic, the dead rock star equivalent of when your boss says something nice to you just before the bollocking. "Amy was a good singer, but in no small way responsible for the downfall of society" would have been a more honest way of saying what she clearly bloody meant.

Because you see Amanda Platell thinks that Amy Winehouse has damaged us all, damaged the very fabric of our fair nation. She opens by saying that a friend of Amy's had commented that although Amy had had her problems, she never harmed anyone else. Fair point, you might think. Well, Amanda Platell didn't think so. I'll let her take over here, because I can't find the words to describe how annoying what she said was without going Orwellian and calling it "doubleplus sanctimonious":

If only that were true. The packets of cigarettes and bottles of vodka, beer and rum left outside her home in Camden, North London, by adoring fans bear testimony to how much she affected vulnerable young people.
Along with flowers and farewell notes, this was their way of saying goodbye to a woman they worshipped and emulated — not just because she was a musical genius, but also, I suspect, because of her car-crash lifestyle.
Ignoring the second appearance of the "g" word, I'm sorry but how fucking retarded does she think "young people" are? I bet you know lots of people who bought Back to Black, but I bet you don't know any who promptly went out and "emulated" Amy Winehouse by injecting heroin into their little pinky toe. If you had asked any of Amy's fans before she died what they thought of her I'd more than wager they wouldn't have said "It's so cool how she's all addicted to drugs and has a debilitating alcohol problem. That's my favourite, that is. How she's really ill and all. I'd totally get hooked on crack now she's made it look all awesome." any more than a Kylie Minogue fan will tell you they thought it was super cool when she had cancer and they wish they had cancer too. No, just like Kylie's fans wanted her to beat cancer, Amy's fans wanted her to overcome her addictions and get better.

As for the tributes, well, maybe the booze and fags could be construed as being a little tasteless but the intention was pure: to leave something that Amy would have liked. A few years ago I was in Mexico when it was the "dia de los muertos" or "day of the dead". People build little shrines to dead people, normally relatives and friends but sometimes celebrities, and place on the shrines things that that person would have liked, the belief being that at midnight on that date, the soul of the person can return and enjoy their favourite things once again. At the hotel I was staying in, for reasons that my sub Dora the Explorer level of Spanish wouldn't allow me to discover, they'd done a shrine for Pavarotti. And on it was the motherlode of all pasta. It made perfect sense. If you were going to do one for Amy, what would you leave on it - did she especially like Toblerones? Or those Scampi Fries you only see in pubs that smell like wee? Nobody knows. Give the girl some vodka, it's not going to hurt her now. That, I think, was the kind of thinking going on.

Amanda Platell (I kind of want to call her "Amanda Twatell" but I try not to go too far into that base sort of territory - "Daily Fail"? My, how droll...) for a moment forgets she's not writing for the Daily Express and muses how far downhill society has gone since the days when people laid flowers at Kensington Palace as a tribute to Diana, before continuing down this bizarre route of blaming Amy Winehouse for ruining the lives of "countless" imaginary young women she's made up in her head:

Her life was a lesson in self-destruction. The tragedy is that it wasn’t just for her, but for countless other young women who hero-worshipped her.
The result was that, for the vulnerable and impressionable, I fear Amy Winehouse made crack cocaine cool. She made alcoholism attractive. She made abusive, violent relationships exciting.
So, er, where's the evidence of this, Amanda? Which young women, specifically are you talking about? Because if you're going to rather tastelessly blame someone who's just died for having this horrific influence on a large group of people, you'd better have something to qualify it or it's going to look pretty bad for you. Oh, you do have evidence? Well, let's hear it then!
For an answer, you have only to visit  any High Street on a Saturday night to find countless wasted young women so drunk they don’t care what man they go off with, so out of their heads on drugs they’re anyone’s. 
And why should they think this is anything other than normal behaviour when their idol Amy Winehouse downed six shots of tequila for breakfast?
For all her talent, she was a role model of the worst kind. And her eight years in the music business mirror a shocking increase in alcohol among women. 
Figures published in 2009 showed 250 girls were arrested every day for violence, mostly fuelled by alcohol. One in four were aged between ten and 17. 
In the years Amy was a star, a generation of ladettes was born, out of their heads and out of control, but thinking they were  oh-so-cool.

Ok, well that all seems reasonable and scientific, doesn't it. Those drunk slappers you see in town on a Saturday night are all part of this strange, cultish horde of Amy Winehouse fans. That's why they go and get wasted in Flares - because they play a lot of Amy Winehouse up in there. And getting wasted on a Saturday night is exactly the same as being an alcoholic, after all. You know, except instead of having the horrible withdrawal symptoms every day that can only be alleviated by say, having six shots of tequila for breakfast you just wake up on Sunday in need of a bacon sandwich. It is exactly the same otherwise. This is the bit that really pisses me of - this inability to distinguish between addiction, which is a truly horrible state to find yourself in and in no way fun, and hedonism, which is quite the laugh. Comparing Amy, who had addiction problems so serious that they killed her, to someone who drinks twelve Bacardi Breezers at the weekend and has a bloody good time, is just screamingly ignorant, and to try and find some sort of causality there is insulting, both to addicts, because you're belittling their problems, and to party girls because you're implying they have some that they don't.

So, Amy's eight years in the music business mirror a shocking rise in alcohol among women, ergo she has had a sinister influence on the White Lightning consumption of girls who would otherwise no doubt be spending their Saturday nights working in a soup kitchen? Well, that is interesting, given that your very own article also contains the pictures showing her decline throughout her career, and those indicate that actually, she was doing OK health wise until around 2005, which was only six years ago. How about that - Amy Winehouse was making imaginary women become alcoholics before she even became one herself! The very nerve of the woman.  While we're on the subject of those pictures, it's not very classy to publish the ugliest pictures you can find of someone who has just died, is it? And as for the one where she's a little kid in a Minnie Mouse costume, what the Hollyoaks omnibus is that all about? And all the snidey comments about how the fact she had a load of tattoos meant she was going over to the dark side, because obviously only doomed people on a self destructive downward spiral have tattoos? Really? Better start writing the "tributes" for Cheryl Cole and David Beckham then, hadn't you?

The term "ladette" was coined in the mid 1990's, when Amy was still at school, to describe the culture of young women who enjoyed binge drinking and clubbing and all of those sorts of shenanigans. I'm not sure who the girls back then were emulating, or how this could possibly have happened while Diana was still among us, but it definitely, definitely did happen. A few years later, when I was 15 I used to go to a club where drinks were 20p for women before 10pm and everybody was hammered - some of the best nights out I've ever had. And even if Amy had tried to influence us back then, I wouldn't have listened because at the time, she was 14, and what kind of loser gets peer pressured by a kid in the year below, huh?

I don't know what kind of life Amanda Platell has lead but it must be quite a fucking joyless one (certainly not one fun enough to warrant that self satisfied countenance she wears in her picture), if she doesn't know the difference between a crippling addiction and a night out on the lash, and can't see why anyone would even want to go for a night out on the lash unless a singer they liked had done it first. And that my friends, is not a life to be admired.