A matter of life and death: the re-presentation of a musician’s suicide through the lens of the obituary

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN

Abstract

When life takes a popular musician, that’s not news, but when a popular musician takes their own life that is. Whilst popular music’s relationship with the subject of death has been extensively intertwined, the desire and increasing curiosity for an insight into this final rite of passage is relatively recent. This paper will explore the extent to which journalistic coverage through music obituary writing both reflects and shapes the reality of a life lived and also sheds light on a society’s views of death both culturally and historically. For non-musical celebrities, suicide would be a shocking end, but for popular musicians, it’s the ultimate rite of passage to the ’Forever 27 club’. By uncovering dominant discourses in the popular music press’s coverage of suicide, the research will illustrate emergent ideologies of celebrity culture and thirst for ‘reality’ platforms, as well as attempt to understand the wider construction of cultural meanings and preoccupations with death in modern society. Using critical discourse analysis to determine categorisation in the coverage of ‘unexpected’ deaths of musicians, the lens of Foucault’s panoptical vision will be applied to demonstrate the emerging audiences who request and consume this output.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJoint BSA Death, Dying and Bereavement Study Group and BSA Media Study Group Event: Death and the Media
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBritish Sociological Association
Pages0-0
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2010
EventJoint BSA Death, Dying and Bereavement Study Group and BSA Media Study Group Event: Death and the Media - British Sociological Association, London, 15 November, 2011
Duration: 15 Nov 2010 → …

Conference

ConferenceJoint BSA Death, Dying and Bereavement Study Group and BSA Media Study Group Event: Death and the Media
Period15/11/10 → …

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  • Cite this

    Hearsum, P. (2010). A matter of life and death: the re-presentation of a musician’s suicide through the lens of the obituary. In Joint BSA Death, Dying and Bereavement Study Group and BSA Media Study Group Event: Death and the Media (pp. 0-0). British Sociological Association. http://www.britsoc.co.uk/study-groups/social-aspects-of-death,-dying-and-bereavement.aspx