Mindy McCready, And The Broken Promise of the Cult of Celebrity
The dead American celebrity–whether occurring quickly and unexpectedly, or slowly over time in a downward spiral of self destructive behavior–is an eternal narrative of the American popular culture, and an everlasting disgrace on our legacy. From jazz greats overdosing on heroin, to Hank Williams dying on New Year’s Day 1953 in the back of his powder blue Cadillac, to Jimi, to Janis, to Jim, Kurt, Michael Jackson and now Mindy McCready, as long as the American culture has been united through media, we’ve been willing accomplices to murder by the act of our unhealthy obsessions with humans we both unfairly canonize and unnecessarily criticize in the idolatrous pop culture cycle.
Instilled in all of us at birth is the idea that becoming a celebrity is the apex of the human experience. We feed this philosophy to our children. We perpetuate it through media. We’ve made it a vital building block of our economy. It is enshrined and institutionalized in our educational system in the form of popularity contests. It has infiltrated our religious institutions. Yet nowhere is the philosophy of wealth and celebrity being broken promises given equal time. Nowhere are the eternal narratives held up as evidence that fame doesn’t resolve personal problems, it exacerbates them, and that wealth doesn’t resolve the downward spiral, it fuels it. We take individuals already predisposed to addiction, depression, suicide and other self-destructive behavior, and then we expect them to deal with these issues in the public eye for our entertainment.
I would be lying if I said I was a fan of Mindy McCready’s music, and I would feel remiss if I recommended it. It would also be disingenuous of me if I regurgitated certain facts here in some heartlessly-compiled obit and acted like I knew the ins and outs of Mindy McCready’s career over time. The truth is I shielded myself from Mindy McCready’s celebrity, as well as the drama that plagued her later life that played out in popular media. I did so from an inherent personal belief that this voyeuristic pursuit was unhealthy for both Mindy and myself.
Did we kill Mindy McCready? No, Mindy McCready killed Mindy McCready.
We simply sat back and watched.
February 18, 2013 @ 1:31 am
when something tragic like this happen happens Fred Eagelsmith Alcohol and Pills always pops in to my head
February 18, 2013 @ 1:49 am
Well said dear sir, well said.
February 18, 2013 @ 2:14 am
“Did we kill Mindy McCready? No, Mindy McCready killed Mindy McCready.
We simply sat back and watched.”
And that is the most tragic aspect of this. Very well said, Trig.
February 18, 2013 @ 7:18 am
I saw an article online where they were looking at her last tweets and said there was signs she was in trouble. A little too late to be doing that now when it was obvious that she was struggling with personal demons. It is always sad when someone takes their own life, and while I obviously never knew her and what she was going through, I think she would have benefited from a much better mental health program than what this country provides.
February 18, 2013 @ 9:43 am
Everybody knew Mindy McCready was going to kill herself. Yet with all the we know, and all the resources available to us in 2013, we could do nothing about it. Or should I say, we could do nothing about it?
February 18, 2013 @ 7:25 am
Wow…poignant stuff Trig…the ones I feel most sorry for are her two children, who now have to grow up in foster care. God be with them.
February 18, 2013 @ 9:48 am
That’s the real tragedy here. I’m not sure if it is our place to decide if taking your own life is right or wrong or not. Only Mindy understands the degree of pain she was going through. But when kids are involved, it becomes a much bigger dilemma.
February 18, 2013 @ 7:42 am
So very sad. A young life ended and two children without parents.
There is good mental health care available but people who are using mind altering substances or in deep depression won’t often seek help for themselves. Someone who loves them has to intervene. We can learn a lesson from this. Also, we can teach our children and their children to pursue their own skills and goals and not devote time to celebrity worship.
February 18, 2013 @ 9:11 am
It is nearly impossible to make an adult (anyone over 18) receive mental health treatment in this country. The only way to force it upon someone is AFTER a crime has been committed and even then only with a judge’s order. Not to even open the nutshell that is access to firearms. Prisons have become our answer for the mentally unwell. It’s shameful.
At some point, we are doing more than just watching a celebrity die. We become complicit. I always point to Anna Nicole Smith: millions of people enjoyed watching a clearly impaired, addicted famous person struggle through life only to be pretend to be shocked when she died. We fed that beast and at some point we need to own up to our role in the consequences. Same deal with these celebrity rehab shows, as long as we are feeding into perpetrating the delusional and enabling narcissism of an addict, WE are part of the problem.
February 18, 2013 @ 9:54 am
I agree for the most part that you can’t force an adult to get help of any kind, at least until they are willing to admit they HAVE a problem. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try to help. However, I did work in the social services and court system for years and many problems are genetic, environmental, biological….you name it. Society is responsible somewhat in that individuals serving the ‘system’ like judges need to make responsible legal choices and stop being so politically correct. There are those, also, like you said “narcissism of the addict” will create a crisis if they aren’t getting enough attention, i.e., Lindsay Lohan and others I could name.
You say “WE” are part of the problem. I don’t agree that just because I am part of the human race that I am responsible for other humans who decide to destroy their own lives. One can really only help or change oneself and those willing to be helped.
The cheap reality shows that feed on the problems and the people willing to air their problems in front of millions are the problem. I don’t support this nor watch any of it. Dr. Phil who “helps” people on his show is only exacerbating the problems because people do feed off this disease of the market place and one problem only begets more problems, unless a person truly gets the kind of help they need and it’s not going to be on a TV show. Disgusting voyeurism and nonsense.
February 18, 2013 @ 10:17 am
I’m actually in agreement with you that we should try to help more. My wife is in the field and it shouldn’t take crimes and judges to treat people that need mental help. We have swung so far on patients’ rights that we are no longer doing right by the people that need help.
I’m not trying to say that YOU, in particular or as part of the human race, are part of the problem. I refer to the collective “WE” of viewers, voyeurs, and purveyors of celebrity narcissism. You and I, I fear, are in the minority.
But same goes for music fans that think it’s cool to casually do drugs or drink with a musician with a known addiction. You can go back to work/school the next day with a wild story to tell, while contributing to someone else’s downfall.
February 18, 2013 @ 10:50 am
I remember after Anna Nicole Smith died someone asking that if she could go back to working at Wal-Mart and Red Lobster instead of becoming a worldwide celebrity, would she have been a happier person and have led a better life. I think you could make the case the answer would be “yes.”
August 31, 2020 @ 6:34 am
This other Mindy piece doesn’t read like its wrote from the same author as the kidnapping one, although im not familiar with this site, im glad you keep long archival records online for us to go back decade to see the current veiws on subject matters
February 18, 2013 @ 3:10 pm
I would like to add that sometimes when a struggling person actually works up the nerve to ask for help they are often met with obstacle after obstacle. It happened to me. I found a lot of organizations kept referring me to another then another……. If you’re not okay, after a while you give up (in different ways for different people)
So what you said about loved ones intevening is so true. Don’t worry about sticking your nose into a loved ones business. They need someone who can think clearly and who has more strength than they do at that moment
February 18, 2013 @ 8:34 am
“Instilled in all of us at birth is the idea that becoming a celebrity is the apex of the human experience.”
I will disagree with this, Trig. Mass media attempts to instill this in all Americans. Most take the bait. Many don’t.
February 18, 2013 @ 10:41 am
I guess I should have clarified a little bit better. It is instilled in us by birth BY society and the media. That is what I meant to say.
February 18, 2013 @ 8:34 am
I was hoping she would get the help she needed but I knew this day would come. May she rest in peace.
February 18, 2013 @ 8:38 am
The interesting thing about this sad story is the fact that it’s been heavily reported on the UK media. Trust me, country music doesn’t get reported on in the UK. And I bet very few people over here will have even heard of her. But ss ever with these things I think it’s the scandal/soap opera feel of someone killing themself that is probably appealing to the UK media: I bet if she had died of natural causes it wouldn’t have been reported.
February 18, 2013 @ 8:54 am
Couldn’t put it better myself, Trig. (Though I never followed her that closely either, I do remember having liked a few of her early hits — especially her 1998 cover of Kim Richey’s “You’ll Never Know.”)
My heart goes out to her young sons and the rest of her family… RIP Mindy. 🙁
February 18, 2013 @ 9:49 am
Nicely said Triggerman. I agree 100% we do idolize these people and that is sad.
February 18, 2013 @ 10:04 am
I’ll offer another possible explanation beyond “murder by the act of our unhealthy obsessions”: some people (and perhaps especially so with creative types) have serious mental issues and a destined for an effed-up existence independent of celebrity.
February 18, 2013 @ 10:45 am
Definitely. The same things that make artists creative people are the same things that predisposed them to self-destructive behavior and addiction. You add an unlimited resource of money and other things to fuel this self-destructive behavior, and you have Mindy McCready’s story.
Like Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory says in “The Ballad of Scumbag Country.”
“Getting rich would be the last thing I’d ever need ’cause drugs are all I’d spend it on. I’d be dead before too long.”
February 18, 2013 @ 10:38 am
There does seem to be alot of this in the artistic community. People who are driven to be artists are usually driven because they feel they have something powerful to say. Many times that something is ‘this hurts’.
February 18, 2013 @ 10:51 am
For some reason this has hit me really hard. I have never been a fan or her music. And I definitely am not the kind of person to care about celebrity gossip. I love making fun of them, but to be honest, celebrities getting arrested and going to court just doesn’t matter to me.
Yet for some reason, Mindy McCready has alwasy been the one celebrity that I wanted to succeed. I wanted her to pick up the pieces of her life and turn her life around. I wanted her to prove everyone wrong. I don’t know why, but I was always rooting for her.
It is just so sad that she had to leave her life like that. Her two kids are left without their mom, and the one is left without both parents. And all those kids will ever have as a memory of their mom is that she had a life of trouble and she ended her own life. There is nothing funny about drugs, and their is definitely nothing funny about it when it leads you to this. It’s so sad that she couldn’t get herself out of it, and I hope she can finally find peace. Because when the last 15 years of your life have been lived the way hers has been, you definitely didn’t have any here. My prayers go out to her entire family.
February 18, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
I feel bad for Mindy’s sons. I feel bad she was in such a place that killing herself seemed her only option. But blaming it on the media, the masses, etc…that is a way of deflecting something. I’m not sure why this blog brought in the blame game, doesn’t seem like Trigger had any relationship with Mindy, so it seems a bit of an old battle cry “look what the mass/mainstream did now”.
I want to bring up is your accusation of “we all just sit back and watch.” Really????
I’m not sure what you are getting at?
What solutions do you have offer? Get rid of reality TV and the crave of instant celebrity? Neither of which were Mindy’s fame. Country music put her on the map. Then she fell out of the spotlight. Only recently did she resurface, but her problems were well underway. This isn’t like she was running 100mph to keep up with her stardom, like some of the other names you mention in the blog.
You even brought up: Like Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory says in “The Ballad of Scumbag Country.”
“Getting rich would be the last thing I”™d ever need ”™cause drugs are all I”™d spend it on. I”™d be dead before too long.”
So there is one right in front of you…You know Leroy. You have interviewed him. You see how he is. Are you just sitting back and watching? If something happens blame it on the mass media?
I don’t have the answers, but I’m not blanketing blame.
February 18, 2013 @ 12:20 pm
I was speaking abstractly, and I think that goes without saying. When I say “we” I include myself in that.
February 18, 2013 @ 1:39 pm
Oh I get what you wrote, abstract and all, but what solutions do you/we have? Are there any solutions?
Mental health is a real issue. It isn’t just will power, it’s brain chemistry. I guess we should be thankful that Mindy didn’t take her two sons with her in this case. That could have been a very real situation, but she had it in her not to go that route.
But the response to this, through this blog, and other outlets, is the bigger picture. Somehow it is a “systems” fault. Well if it is, you know what happens when that is the outcry? The gov. gets involved to try and fix it. Then the outcry is that the gov. is involved where they shouldn’t be. And so it goes.
I’m not trying to upset you, but it is like the gun people say…guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Fame doesn’t commit suicide, people do. And it is said, and changes need to be made to address the mental health of the USA.
Cult of celebrity promises fame…just remember it doesn’t promise if that fame is good or bad.
Urban Country News
February 18, 2013 @ 12:28 pm
I’ve been quite amazed at the level of judgement in comments on twitter and facebook. Like you said, already fragile people are left to struggle and society watches.
I don’t so much blame the public for consuming the sensational gossip stories, but more the people around celebrities who do nothing to stop those stories from arising in the first place.
Like you, I stayed away from this, never read the latest scandal piece, and refused to republish any of the statements I got from her publicist. Instead I questioned why I was getting statements from a publicist at all.
Finally, and a point already brought up above, mental health care in this country (or indeed most types of care) is hard to access. Add to that the huge stigma still attached to mental illness and it’s hard to see how it might get better. Those on social media judging her as ‘crazy’ and ‘selfish’ are not helping.
February 18, 2013 @ 12:51 pm
Mindy’s life has been a tragic slow-moving train wreck over the course of the last 15 years.
The cult of celebrity is disgusting.
I cannot believe that people actually watch the Today Show, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, etc. or that anyone would willingly follow the unending drama of the Kardashian family.
I would rather admit to going to the freak show at a carnival than watch these shows or read the magazines which chronicle their empty lives.
The Nashvile music machine devours and spits out the bones of erstwhile singers and musicians, all of whom want to be George Strait or Reba.
Addiction is a fatal, progressive disease and it is frequently accompanied by underlying brain chemistry issues.
The whole thing is sad to watch.
She is happier now.
February 18, 2013 @ 1:07 pm
Just heard a news report that said she had just been allowed to leave a court-ordered rehab program. Bad decision. We’ve been hashing this out here and all of us have good intentions but really can’t know unless we’ve walked in her shoes.
February 18, 2013 @ 4:47 pm
I think that we as a society really like to cry. We idolize those we know are most likely to explode.
February 18, 2013 @ 8:41 pm
Interesting. Mindy McCready is 5th “Celebrity Rehab” cast member to die.
TX Music Jim
February 19, 2013 @ 8:48 am
The Kids are the true victims here, no doubt. The price of freedom is that people who have severe mental health and substance abuse issues cannot be easily forced into treatment unless there is a crime. However, the flipside of that would be that if it was easy to commit someone against their will the abuse of that would severely violate peoples civil liberties. Striking a balance of getting people help that need it and can’t see the need for it vs protecting all of our civil liberities is a delicate one without easy answers.
February 21, 2013 @ 12:42 pm
We have had time (the 1920s) where people could be committed as crazy and then they were stuck because saying they weren’t crazy only proved it and not fighting meant you admitted your accusers were right.
There was that Angelina Jolie movie she did directed by Clint Eastwood that dealt with some of this.
I do find it troubling however that for parent’s there is no help until the child commits a crime and by that time the child’s future is over.
February 19, 2013 @ 2:56 pm
Been saying it since I first heard: least surprising celebrity death since Layne Staley.
February 27, 2013 @ 11:34 am
There is little that I could state here that hasn’t been said or thought already. I didn’t know mindy but i venture to say she wasn’t crazy. she may have been chemically altered, emotionally afflicted and addicted, but not crazy. Although she suffered a seizure on Celeb Rehab so I’m sure there were several health issues, beyond just drug addiction. Suicide is a selfish act for it affects those that are left behind in ways too numerous to list here. For the person committing suicide, it is most likely the only answer left (in their thinking anyway) and sometimes they feel it is the least selfish thing in the world to do because you are such a burden to yourself and others. Either way, you end up a statistic with a silent voice…
February 26, 2020 @ 3:29 pm
I know this post is old and when you say that she killed herself it is true but what was going on in 2010 she was about to get her life back on track. Everything was ok until her boyfriend David Wilson, shot his self. He admitted that he was cheating on her behind her back and then he felt guilty and shot himself. Then people started to say she killed David Wilson. According to the tv show, Autopsy: The Last Hours of…, He killed hisself cause when there was a bullet behind his ear and that is how you commit suicide. What drove her to the point of killing here was that Child services emailed her and said they were taking away her kids and giving them to her mom. So who is the killer…Child Services! I think this website is believed to be fake cause it freezes up every computer. I don’t care what you think of me…I am and always be a Mindy McCready fan. Kiss my motherf**Kin’ ass trump supporting site cause that’s what all you are probably Trump supporting assholes
May 15, 2021 @ 9:06 pm
Mindy Mc ready is a cautionary tale. It’s a shame because she had a pleasant voice. She may have even had some songwriting talent. We never really found out because she was discovered at a young age for her looks and saddled with mediocre material. That initial success proved unsustainable. By the time she realized she’d been screwed the fans had moved on. She became erratic and difficult to work with and things went downhill from there. She was marketed as a third rate shania Twain who was herself a third rate marketed country singer. Then she was marketed as tabloid fodder. Rip
July 4, 2021 @ 5:40 pm
A cookie cutter midriff act to join the cookie cutter hat act
August 8, 2021 @ 7:26 pm
Drug and alcohol addiction is like terminal cancer. You only have a narrow window of opportunity to get clean and stay clean and then the disease becomes terminal. They damage all your internal organs and rot your body from the inside out. Permanent brain damage occurs. Messages aren’t transmitted along the nerve pathways and these people lack the ability to make good decisions. This was the defense elviss doctor gave when he was charged with over prescribing. He did try to wean Elvis away from the drugs but in the end he kept a terminal addict comfortable. Mindy mccreadys terminal addiction was a case of when and how not if.