Jo-Jo’s Journal: The Queen’s Dead, Can I Laugh?

On Sept. 8, 2022, royal communications announced that Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at Balmoral Castle (a residence of the British royal family). This announcement was quickly followed by millions of reactions, ranging from tears and sorrow to laughter and rejoicing (Twitter was going crazy). That’s actually how I found out the Queen had passed. Someone on Twitter had uploaded a picture of Kobe (R.I.P) dunking on the Queen (or rather a photoshopped picture of the Queen’s face). 

Now, this was only the beginning of the discourse regarding the Queen’s death and, more specifically, how it should be reacted to. While I giggled at some of the memes I saw, I always instantly felt bad afterward. The Queen, beloved by many, had just died and here I was laughing at the idea of Princess Diana kicking her out of heaven. However, it’s not like the Queen was a saint herself; her reign included many tragic events that afflicted the lives of millions and collected debts that could never and will never be repaid. 

All of this leads to a question that I’ve been pondering for quite some time, which is:

Should a person’s history determine whether or not they deserve to be mourned? 

While the Queen’s death re-ignited this question for me, I first thought about this after the death of Kobe Byrant. Bryant’s death, just like the Queen’s, shocked the world and how it conjured a multitude of reactions. Twitter this time around was much more sensitive, especially since the accident included Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others (two kids and five adults). 

Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before problematic parts of Kobe’s history were brought up. In 2003, Kobe Bryant was charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman. One year later, just one week before opening statements for the trial, the case was dismissed after the accuser refused to testify; a civil suit against Bryant was later filed by the woman, which was settled privately. 

Now, while most chose to mourn Bryant’s death, others used this case as grounds to not mourn Bryant’s death and glorify him due to his basketball legacy. His death was also around the height of the #MeToo movement, which just added more fuel to the fire. 

Here’s my personal opinion: I think it’s necessary to examine and critique the history of popular figures, dead or alive. There’s a weird infantilization effect celebrities have on us that really needs to end. The world isn’t going to implode on itself if I say the Queen enabled many terrible events during her reign, for example, the violence inflicted by her government in Kenya. 

However, I do think there should be a line drawn for how we go about sharing our indifference. Is saying that the actions of a deceased figure have caused you to not partake in any form of mourning for them okay? Yes! Is saying said deceased figure should’ve died a slow and painful death at your hands as you watch the last part of their soul leave their body okay? It depends on your proximity to the effects of their actions and those actions themselves, but for most people, I’ll say calm it down. 

Overall people get back what they put out into the world, and that goes for everybody. So go ahead and laugh, but don’t be mad when the Queen’s ghost decides to haunt you for life!