Under a semi-bombastic headline, in today’s Fashion Section of the Telegraph, Lisa Armstrong raised the notion of “reinvention,” regarding the public image of Amy Jade Winehouse.
While I dismiss as total speculation some elements of Armstrong’s editorial recounting of “events,” the notion that AJW’s public image is being “reinvented” has some merit. Though, the word “reinvented” is more than slightly gratuitous – and quite inaccurate – there is little doubt that a large wave of “setting the record straight” efforts is underway.
Following years of seeing Amy trashed and slimed – for money – by some mean-spirited paps and all exploitive tabs, it is wholly justified that fans and others are taking another look at precisely what went down in the media campaign that resulted in the public dehumanization of AJW.
Some in the media-class will continue to call this rehab process “reinvention,” but many of Amy’s fans – and other fair-minded observers – see it simply as fairplay and decency arriving far too late to render justice and preserve life.
The current pushback, wrongly branded as “reinvention,” is certainly reactionary in nature. But, if such reactions had come sooner, the subject might well be moot. Speculating about the unknowable – the what might have been concepts – is a deadend path. But, still, the brokenhearted and the decent must wonder if a different outcome was ever possible. Did the good people do enough and are their present “image rehab” efforts largely elements of guilt? I dunno.
That AJW benefited greatly from a stalking media’s attention is undeniable; that some of that attention was extremely hurtful and damaging to Amy’s feelings as a human being is equally true. Noting that “you take the good with the bad,” is too cavalier a position in light of the outcome that was ultimately visited upon Amy and those who loved her.
The profiteers are still standing and they worry that some fans are engaged in revisionism. I delight in their worry and advise that they have not seen anything, yet.
Amy’s fans relish the notion that her art was always honest. They love that she said what was on her mind. They fancy that “she didn’t care” what other folks thought of her. While Amy’s honesty in her art was unparalleled, much of her bravado in the face of pain and abuse was likely merely the public mask she wore to maintain a defensive illusion of strength and power; humans are like that.
Like most artistic geniuses, AJW was a fragile-hearted human with ultra-sensitive feelings; subject to being easily crushed and demoralized by the criticisms, judgements and exploitations of other humans.
Hunters stalk a wounded animal to retrieve their prey and end its suffering. In life, Amy was stalked by opportunists that sought only a “money shot” that could be sold as representative of “truth.” Such shots often represented accuracy in the moment, but seldom delivered any “truth” about AJW. Such shots were used to create an impression that was neither fair, nor honest, nor decent; the only “truth” delivered was the shocking savagery of a greed-driven media preying on a mortally wounded human. A human with a disease that it is still more acceptable to mock and exploit than it is easy to cure.
Such disease chauvinism profits the exploiters and destroys its victims. If AJW had contracted cancer and departed, would a vile media raise the issue of “reinvention?” Of course not. If a false narrative of Amy’s life had not been largely created by a money-corrupted media, would the alleged “reinvention” even be required? Most definitely not.
Now, with blood still wet near where they stand, elements of the media will accuse Amy’s fans and supporters of attempting to “reinvent history.” The contrary is the truth. We are simply seeking to undo some of the wrongful damage done by a media paid so handsomely – and for so long – to construct what we view as a false and hopelessly biased “history.”
If those who seek to have AJW remembered as a great artist and a good and decent human – with the same frailties and troubles born by many others – are to be cast as “reinventors,” how will history view those who made such “reinvention” necessary? I am pretty sure that I do know the answer to that question.