Photo via Flickr user Tim Evanson
When a celebrity dies, the online community divides into two distinct camps: the oversharing, sincere mourners and the blatantly insensitive amateur comedians. The first camp doesn’t even need to be intimately familiar with the deceased. A tweet or post could simply say, “I watched him or her in some of my favorite films, TV shows, and YouTube videos, and I will miss his or her singular contribution to my life.” The second camp makes some crass joke to prove how edgy they are, while also revealing they are incapable of the simple human emotion of empathy. These jokes can come from anyone, but usually come from short, bald, ugly men who’d chop their own dicks off for a retweet from Howard Stern.
When news hit yesterday that Fast & Furious star Paul Walker had passed away in a car accident, the cycle of acceptance and annoyance began yet again. Here's a sampling of the reaction, both heartfelt and genuinely stupid.
Hey Paul Walker, click it or ticket!
— Hayden Henderson (@hhenderson94) December 1, 2013
Bro i just died laughing! somebody tweeted "please let it be Paul Wall and not Paul Walker" lmao im weak
— Jerrell Jackson (@JerrellCJackson) December 1, 2013
Thats very gay of you, Tyrese.
— Bobson Brown (@ChinasaNkwoji) December 1, 2013
Paul walker has gained over 800,000 followers on twitter since his death. What's the point now…
— (@heptxo) December 1, 2013
Paul walker hit that flicking tree so hard nigger split his noise
— D's Property™ (@mony_young) December 1, 2013
Such sad news about Paul Walker man!!! Love and prayers going out to his loved ones :(
— Tessanne Chin (@Tessanne) December 1, 2013
— apassionata♡ (@wintersrauhl) December 1, 2013
Just heard the news #paulwalker so very sad and shocking. May he RIP and fly fast with the angels tonight. We will all miss him deeply. Xo
— Patti Stanger (@pattistanger) December 1, 2013
Was family guy trying to warn us about paul walker's accident after Brian Griffin died?
— Tony Garcia (@TooShort108) December 1, 2013
I understand people should care about the driver that died also, but he was the DRIVER of the car that LOST CONTROL and killed PAUL WALKER
— Mike Wyatt (@HashtagMikeDubz) December 1, 2013
That last one is my favorite of the bunch, because it's in direct opposition to a movement that coalesced rather quickly around the man who was identified as the driver of the car that Paul perished in, Roger Rodas. It's become a meme in and of itself to attempt to draw attention to the lesser-known person in the car.
RiP Roger Rodas. Aka the guy driving the car with Paul Walker in the passenger seat. The guy who isn't recognized because he wasn't famous.
— Unsober Girl (@unsobergirl) December 1, 2013
It seems like kind of a stretch to say no one cares about Roger Rodas, since his friends and family probably care quite a bit. You can't really blame the media for not running a story with the headline, “Custom Car Company CEO Dies in Car Accident with Celebrity in Passenger Seat.” If I died in a plane crash and Jaden Smith was sitting next to me, I would totally understand if Jaden got all the press coverage. Misplaced righteous indignation like this is pretty bad, but unsubtle insults are a lot worse.
Paul Walker may have been an average actor, but he was one of the most charitable guys in real life and should not be forgotten.
— UWMadisonConfessions (@UWConfessions) December 1, 2013
The first rule of the internet is to never pass up an opportunity to mock a dead person for his or her perceived shortcomings. When Dane Cook dies, will someone say, “He was a terrible comedian, and I couldn't stand to hear his voice, but he had a really firm handshake and for that, we should be sad?”
RIP to #Virgo Paul Walker! He was born on September 12. At his best, he was encouraging, fearless, optimistic.
— The12Signs (@The12Signs) December 1, 2013
Did you know that Paul Walker was a Virgo? Does it fucking matter? I feel like this Twitter account is only a few stiff drinks away from saying, “If Paul Walker had checked his horoscope yesterday, he'd still be here, so be sure to come back here often… OR ELSE.”
Paul walker was too hot to die
— Parin ❁ॐ❁ (@parin_r) December 1, 2013
And finally, we get to the crux of the matter. Some people are just too beautiful for this world and should be spared the harsh inevitability of mortality.
The internet allows the world to have a massive funeral for those that we've welcomed into our lives through popular culture. Of course, every funeral I've been to has turned into the sort of cringe-inducing shit-show that you find online. People say inappropriate things, use the occassion for their own benefit, and sometimes forget the real reason why they're there in the first place. In the middle of all that is legitimate grief though, and while we sift through the bad taste, it's important to remember that this famous guy was a very real person, and there are people that are still living that wish they could hear their friend's voice one last time.
— Angelo Costantino (@ALo_ThePrince) December 1, 2013