Why Lagerfeld’s Death Is Not a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

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By Stephanie Wild

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 1 of VARSITY News.


We’ve all seen how social media has changed our lives. It is easy to spot the more superficial of these changes: increased connectivity, the creation of an international and public platform for ordinary citizens, the new plague of cyber-bullying, and the growing importance of image. We do not, however, think about the more fundamental changes being made to society’s conception of legacy.


Throughout the years, social media platforms have been adopted as part of the mourning process. From families sharing their grief over the loss of a loved one to whole communities exchanging condolences over mass casualties in terror attacks, platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have provided catharsis to those suffering such losses.


The superficial nature of social media has, however, filtered through to this process of online mourning. In the same way that our posts lack contexts, and our photos are filtered and taken at optimal angles, we focus on the good and leave the bad out of the frame of focus. This glorification is the standard which extends even to those questionable public figures.


Michael Jackson’s death in 2008 triggered an onslaught of public adoration. Songs, films, and other tributes flooded media with little or no mention of his pre-existing accusations of molestation. Last June, XXXTentacion’s death prompted a similar reaction. His confession to domestic violence, including the assault of a pregnant women, was forgotten and replaced by candle-lit memorials.


Even Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld received obituaries and articles glorifying his contribution to the fashion industry while glossing over accusations by models of groping, as well as his Holocaust comments on the French show “Salut Les Terriens”. Society then appears to find Lagerfeld’s death an acceptable excuse for his sexual harassment and racism. Abandoning these difficult truths then sends the message that only our successes are tallied, which in turn promotes these shameless and power-indulgent acts of exploitation.


This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.


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