Not saving Amy

Not saving Amy

Posted July 24th, 2011 by debritz

Amy Winehouse is dead at age 27. Oh, well, never mind, there's plenty more where she came from -- and more than enough greedy entertainment industry executives lined up to squeeze their talent, their future and their very lives out of them.

Did it really have to end like this for Winehouse, and was her own "self-destructive" bent the only thing to blame? Here's something I wrote back in December, 2007:

The Daily Mail has a feature article on singer Amy Winehouse, asking: "Why is no one acting to stop the headlong rush into oblivion?" Liz Jones writes, in part: "Why hasn't her record company, which must have made a fortune from her multi-platinum-selling albums, booked her into a secure rehab facility?" A simple, but cynical, answer: a troubled, or even a dead, singer can make more money for a record company than a clean-living and well-adjusted one. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: many in the music industry tolerate, even facilitate, the use of illegal drugs - and for that they, and the industry itself, must be held accountable.

Winehouse is not the first star to die as a consequence of her drug addiction, nor will she be the last. Just as the media has been put on notice in recent weeks over illegal phone hacking, so should the music, film, TV and fashion industries be read the riot act over its tolerance, and often active enabling, of illegal drug use.

During my many years as an entertainment writer and editor, I've always felt sick about the prevailing casual attitude towards the heavy use of hard drugs. I've been especially sickened by some in my acquaintance who were in the process of f---ing up their own life, and/or the life of somebody they loved, through the uncontrolled abuse of substances both illegal and legal. The fact that they joked about it made it much worse.

It's time for the entertainment industry to take a stand and say it's not acceptable for vulnerable people (often those who've come from nowhere and been thrust into the "glamorous" world of showbiz) to be allowed, and assisted, to kill themselves. And if the industry doesn't do it, then the police should. The next time there's a major awards ceremony, it shouldn't be a tabloid hack testing the restrooms for traces of white powder for a journalistic lark, but the law doing it with a clear purpose.

Those with addiction problems should receive treatment and those who cynically exploit the victims of addiction for monetary gain -- by scoring the drugs in the first place or turning a blind eye to what's going on as long as the cash keeps rolling in -- should be fined heavily and, in the case of serial offenders, locked up.