Stop Normalizing Addiction in Hollywood

I recently read an article about a young musician who died of an overdose at age 21. He was highlighted for his Youtube views, and his creativity, and his influence. However, his clear and blatant addiction to opioids and other various drugs was merely mentioned. His manager was quoted from a Twitter post, citing he had “expected” this type of news for a year. People mourn this kid – yes – and it is a tragedy. I never heard of this musician until today, but what stuck with me the most from this news was how normalized and passively mentioned his addiction seemed.
Recently, the industry that involves any kind of fame or fortune seems to be reliant on social media influence at the expense of the entertainer or influencer for the benefit of the managers and puppeteers – for lack of a better term – in control of the performers. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with fame. There is nothing wrong with those who work hard and pursue their dreams in order to spread a message or music or art to the world. However, when a manager says they “expected” to hear of an overdose of their client – someone they are responsible for – it leaves a hole in my mind of what type of message is being sent around the world.
Addiction overall – something I am very familiar with – should be de-stigmatized, and at the same time should not be normalized the way it is in the entertainment industry. My opinions are completely my own, however I feel I am not the only one with a sour taste in my mouth surrounding this current situation, especially since this isn’t the first case of an artist overdosing. My experience with addiction is with my mother, an alcoholic who died from liver poisoning. Her state and condition worsened over the course of my life and was something I had absolutely no control over. I couldn’t save her and I couldn’t sway her. Her own personal reasoning was because I was “the child” and not the parent, so I didn’t know what I was saying.
What bothers me most with addiction and death with young artists in Hollywood is that many of them are managed and influenced by older artists and individuals who have been in the business longer. These people are enabling the addictive behaviors and seemingly ignoring the problem all for the sake of views and revenue, and the expense of this seems to be the life and well-being of the artist. Since when did it become alright to inspire people through normalization of addiction? Since when did an over-consumption of prescriptions, and mixing drugs become almost expected as an artist?
As a writer and an artist myself, I watched my mother – an artist – change her outlet for her mental struggles from art and playing guitar to alcohol and silence. Watching her die in front of me left a huge scar on my being, and I walked away with anxiety issues and post traumatic stress. My outlet was alcohol and over-consumption of food for about three years, until I realized I didn’t want to live my life out like she did, and I took up writing, painting, and music as outlets. My work, generally dark, allows me to flush out bad feelings I would have otherwise drowned and have a more positive verbal and mental outlook on life.
I do not doubt an increased pressure on artists to create what the public wants to hear rather than what’s in their own heads and hearts, but as a mass population I feel giant steps need to be made to stop desensitizing ourselves to the blatant and oftentimes open addictions in Hollywood where cries for help are said through song and we are more concerned about views and popularity rather than taking care of each other. We need to stop forgetting humanity at the expense of entertainment and money, and stop feeling entitled to having artists at the mercy of the public.

One thought on “Stop Normalizing Addiction in Hollywood

  1. Having lived in and out of addiction as well as around addiction most of my life I feel for you. I see what you are saying. It is a complicated equation. The artists are who they are because of the drugs, I am not saying that to condone it by any means. My wife used to work in Hollywood behind the camera and would tell me story after story of all the coke that everybody did just to get a movie shot. I guess it is because the creative type is predisposed to addiction? I know when I was in college I would write better on a term paper after a couple of beers. But where do we draw the line.

    I think the thing you said that was most striking to me was from the manager where he was expecting the news for a year. Then get the dude to rehab!

    Thats all, I am done. I could go on and on but I will stop.

    Thanks for your post.
    Oh, you for got to mention the sex addiction that seems to be rampant…

    Liked by 1 person

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