That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore: BYT Asks Morrissey Fans to Write Suicide Notes
Yeah, sure, one of the greatest songs ever—"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out"—is by Morrissey, and is about dying. And Moz is performing at Strathmore on Dec. 7. I'm not sure what the correct convergence of these facts is, but I'm absolutely certain it is not to host a giveaway declaring that the writer of the best suicide note will receive two free tickets to the show.
But local scenester megasite Brightest Young Things thought otherwise, and today asked its readers to do exactly that: Write a suicide note to win tickets. Congratulations! You've made a mockery of a real, serious issue—the act of taking one's life—that was, in 2007, the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. No matter what way you spin it, what BYT has asked their readers to do is pretty dang despicable.
Why aren't suicide notes acceptable fodder for ticket giveways? Catherine Lewis of Showlist DC gave this explanation in her aggregation of music news today:
As you know, I share all the music-related giveaways I can find down at the bottom of these posts every day. Well, here’s one I’m going to post only once: Brightest Young Things is doing a giveaway for Morrissey at Strathmore on 12/7. The contest is for everyone to write a suicide note, and BYT will pick a winner (they wrote: “Best suicide note wins”). Wow. I get that Morrissey and the Smiths’ music is mopey, and I get that BYT is trying to be cute and edgy, but this is pretty screwed up. It’s not just that it’s a morbid contest (which it is, and Shauna at BYT actually responded to one of the entries by writing, “PLEASE DO NOT GO KILL YOURSELF . XX BYT”). It’s that it makes light of suicide, and anyone who’s lived through a friend’s suicide knows what that’s like. It sucks. It absolutely sucks when a friend or loved one takes his/her own life (full disclosure: my friend Jeff killed himself last month and left a public suicide note on his blog). So maybe BYT thought this was funny or some kind of joke, but guess what: writing pretend suicide notes– even to get free concert tickets– isn’t funny and isn’t a joke. I guess this is just another example of how BYT, despite being one of the biggest entertainment blogs in this area, just doesn’t get it.
(Also in the Department of Not Getting It: whoever runs BYT's Twitter and retweeted a criticism of the contest with a link to the contest; and the two dozen or so commenters who have actually penned mock suicide notes—mostly composed of boilerplate Smiths lyrics—in response to the original BYT post.)
I asked Logan Donaldson, BYT's managing editor, what he was thinking. He writes:
The suicide note prompt was an idea generated by a few colleagues after mulling over his body of work, i.e., the song "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out," the death and suicide themes that riddle his lyrics, and his public admonitions of seeing suicide as honorable or even favorable. As with many of our giveaways we wanted to be thematic, and working under the assumption that his most enthusiastic fans would be responding to a first-chance giveaway and would be well acquainted with his maudlin, macabre persona, we saw it as a tongue-in-cheek opportunity to stoke the creativity of the Morrissey fans within our readership.The reality of suicide is obviously horrifying, and in no way were we promoting or suggesting otherwise. We didn't foresee upsetting a few of our readers in our attempt at being cute with the giveaway theme.
It sounds like the thought process went like this: 1) Procure tickets to give away. 2) Listen to Morrissey's oeuvre. 3) Be all, "LOL, this dude talks about dying a lot, isn't that crazy?" 4) Act clueless when people get upset over something that may have affected their own lives. (One BYT commenter wrote, "[M]y friend committed suicide a year and a half ago. [Y]ou want me to transcribe the note he left me here?")
Why even give credence to BYT's shenanigans? After all, in 2009, Morrissey himself sort of glamorized suicide in an interview with the BBC. And BYT's crassness hasn't deterred its readers from shilling for the tickets with lame prose strung out of Smith lyrics. For example: "Look this world is full of crashing bores and bottom line is he and I don't care if we live or if we die. Though he knows I'd love to see him, its common knowledge that we'll undoubtedly die alone."
It's really quite simple: Suicide shouldn't be used as a prop to give away anything, even—especially—tickets to see Morrissey. There's nothing hard to get about that.
Photo by Flickr user Man Alive!, Creative Commons license