Dying On Camera

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

Soon, we will all be subjected to watching another celebrity die on camera. Following in the footsteps of British reality star Jade Goody (who died earlier this year after months of media attention), Farah Fawcett, former Charlie's Angels star, is dying of a particularly nasty form of cancer, and opted to film her dying days for a documentary.

Don't get me wrong, I think both women deserve a lot of respect for their enormous courage, and my heart goes out to them and their families for the unimaginable amount of pain they have, and are going through.

But I can't help but feel revulsion at the intrusion into their personal lives at a time when privacy is of the utmost importance. Early last year, my younger brother caught a mysterious disease while abroad, and came dangerously close to dying due to complications in hospital. It was a horrendously traumatic time for both myself and my family, and one that no one really knew how to handle. There were moments of utter despair, confusion and disbelief, all of which hit at unexpected times and in unexpected ways.

I mostly put on a front for my family, but was privately close to breaking at several points. I didn't want anyone to see or know about it, even close friends and family, and the thought of having a camera crew around is just incomprehensible (writing about it now still makes me a little uncomfortable). It was an intensely private affair, that was no-one's business but our own. Not for sale, not for art, and not for any cause, no matter how noble.

Jade Goody elected to have the last few months of her life televised for money, to ensure her children would be financially secure. Farah Fawcett seems to be doing it to bring attention to cancer. All of which are noble causes and worthy of respect. However, there is a sense of grotesque voyeurism in the incessant coverage of their ordeals, and a level of narcissism that only comes with the trappings of fame and celebrity. It is partly the fault of Goody and Fawcett for encouraging the animalistic press to cover every inch of their lives, and partly ours for watching it. It's a destructive relationship that offers up intimate moments for consumption, and human dignity for entertainment. I for one, won't be watching Farah Fawcitt's last moments because it's simply none of my business.