I’ve never liked talking about AJW’s personal life. It makes me feel like a filthy tabloid monster instead of an adoring fan. But, there are some very uncomfortable – even controversial – things I need to say and then I will try never to speak of them again.
The “Hate Blake Train” continues to roll down the tracks and it shows no signs of derailing into the reality ditch. People in pain often seek to lay blame and God knows that Blake Fielder-Civil is a seemingly deserving, easy and convenient target. But, keeping it real and avoiding the trap of deluding ourselves demands a more objective exam of the circumstance.
By preface, let me say, that I find everything about BFC to be disgusting and despicable. As much as any fan, I certainly wish that Amy had never laid eyes on the creature. His conduct and his motives have been vile since long before the day we learned his name. He is a shallow, tragic and pitiful parasitic force that masqueraded as a supportive muse; a really bad guy whose name should be stricken from our collective memories.
But, I refuse to “blame” BFC for “destroying” Amy. I am not going to hate BFC, just as I would not “hate” a rabid dog or a hungry shark in the sea; like those creatures, BFC was simply doing what his kind does. And, I know that haters always risk becoming that which they hate, and the last thing I want or need is to become a BFC.
Would I trade all of the original music that, in part, sprang from Amy’s foul experiences with BFC just to have her back, living in Las Vegas and becoming the greatest cover-singer in the history of music? Bet everything you own that I would indeed make that trade.
But, I know too that the Amy we loved was the sum of her experiences. Some of the music we declared to be “eternal masterpieces” would not exist if BFC – or another bad actor from the world’s endless inventory of “stupid men” – had not entered the frame.
BFC and the woman who believed she loved him more than her own life suffered from the same disease; an affliction they were primed to contract from an early age. The permissive and grossly mistaken notion that marijuana use is not harmful to adolescents in their psychologically formative years can as easily be blamed for “causing” many of Amy’s challenges as can BFC. Amy’s trough of natural coping skills was running on empty long prior to her encounter with the incarcerated one.
Those skills were simply never allowed to properly develop in a cultural environment that viewed kids smoking weed as normal, and saw psychotropic prescriptions as an acceptable substitute for naturally learning to deal with the pains of life. When Mary Jane and easily prescribed antidepressants are always ready to blunt the pains of teendom, coping skills are just not needed. When adulthood strikes, even more insidious masking substances are the only refuge and the disease of lifelong addiction is happy to accept its invitation.
A mutual love of drug-escapism is enough to temporarily defeat the sure scientific paradigm that opposites attract. Enter the similarly damaged manchild, and it was easy for the pair to imagine themselves as “soulmates.” That one of the duo was hopelessly corrupt and the other haplessly sweet and decent does not change the dynamics of the interaction between two equally ill transactors. It does, though, obviously, make us see the transaction as “unfair” and allows many to justify their BFC hatred.
That Amy intellectually realized that a mutual love of dope was “not enough” to keep the BFC connection alive is a clear indication that she was making serious efforts to proceed towards recovery long before 2010. As is common for addictive personalities, Amy likely rationalized that one kind of addiction was “worse” than another and that she could “handle the lesser evil.” It’s never true, but the addict never sees the lie; not ever.
As Amy’s partial recovery stalled, BFC was out of the physical mix and there were additional opportunities for third-parties to act. Why not blame the best intended – and blatantly false – popular notion that “you can’t save someone who is not ready to be saved?” Please trust me when I tell you that my own personal experience has repeatedly proven the falsity of that pop-psych myth. Yet, decent and responsible people, acting in goodfaith, continue to refrain from militant and litigious interventions on behalf of relatives and associates mired in life-threatening addictions. Should such reticent folks be blamed and hated, too?
Perhaps we should blame and hate the pharmaceutical companies that make $BILLIONS by emphasizing the biological elements of the disease of addiction. Treating the affliction with drugs and ignoring its psychological components profits the pill-pushers and shields those closest to an addict from charges of inaction, but does nothing to resolve the causes of the tornadoes and earthquakes that bounce about in the addict’s head. Symptom abatement is simple, curative “talk it out” treatments are complex and much less profitable.
Could it be that the entertainment congloms that profit so handsomely from the pains of their songbirds bear at least some responsibility in the instant fiasco? Maybe the “go make me some money and harm yourself anyway you choose” business model is so fundamentally flawed that it needs to be labeled a public health menace and scrapped. Maybe we should hate the “heartless” record corps and promoters.
Maybe we should blame and hate a government system that sees the prison industrial complex as offering a better solution to mental health issues than the cheaper and more effective healthcare delivery scheme.
Or, maybe, all of US should be blamed and hated. We cheated ourselves, like we feared we would, we knew she was in trouble, we should have done much more. Pointing our blame finger always points three more fingers back at US; saccharine, but true.
So many to blame and hate. So many shrubs of denial to hide behind. So much pain to deflect. So little time to pick the appropriate target of our impotent rage, yet we cannot survive if “someone” is not tagged as liable. Pick the villain and do it now, or our own guilt will overwhelm our grief. Make it an obvious bad guy that did evil things, make it neat and tidy, make it easy. Let it make sense and make it explainable. Be sure that it is simple and elementary, and in no way implicates me or mine. Forget about truth, we can live with the absolution of a half-truth or even a lie.
When we hear BFC explain that he “could not compete financially” with Amy and that “scoring the dope” she demanded made him “feel useful,” we see a mentally-ill child trapped in the dangerous body of a grown man. Can we really demand and expect understanding for Amy’s troubles, if we hate those similarly situated? If we resort to hating the ill, is there really much at all about us that is worth saving?
I understand how hard it is to find a moral equivalency between the mindless assaults of “Amy-haters” AND the hatred that many of Amy’s fans continue to express for BFC. But, that equivalency exists and any part we play in feeding it diminishes us, reflects poorly on Amy, and makes our promotion of the legend and the legacy less solid, less pure and less effective than it might otherwise be.
Looking for places to lay blame and for people to hate is a shallow exercise, when none of its output can change anything that has gone before. We cannot get “justice” for Amy, no matter how hard we hate, no matter where we place blame.
And, please, let’s not forget that BFC was a victim of the same mind crushing disease that The Amy Winehouse Foundation seeks to combat. Let go of the hate; it is counterproductive and the JadeMermaid Princess would never sanction it.
Now, if I can, somehow, just learn to perfectly practice what I preach…