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Another January Death

Alright, alright, I know I said I was gonna wait until Sunday. But this needs its own post and I don’t wanna clutter up the Sunday Service with this crap I already had written… I want Sunday to be a fresh start.

I am not one to speak ill of the dead, I hope you know that. But there’s something about all of this that just bugs me. I wrote this rant, edited it a few times, then left it alone. Mark Twain said if something/someone pisses you off, write it down in a letter and put it on the mantel for a few days. If, after those days, you re-read it and you still feel the same way, send the letter. If not, burn the letter in the fireplace and move on. Solid advice, and that’s what I did here – I’m sending the letter.

I could be very wrong about all of this. Maybe they were a perfectly lovely couple and it was true love and I’m just a cynical asshole for thinking this way. Feel free to disagree with me. And it probably serves nothing and helps no one that I even did this.

With so many famous person deaths this past bitter January, one wasn’t mentioned at all in these blogging circles, René Angelil.

It’s known that I have never been a fan of Celine Dion’s music, and I generally haven’t followed her life. I hope it’s also known that I truly do not wish death on anybody. I’m sure they loved each other and that’s wonderful. But when I heard that this guy got a national funeral (one step down from a state funeral, reserved for former premiers) in Montreal, I couldn’t believe it… I mean, I could believe it, because people will make a spectacle out of anything, and Quebec is pathetically desperate to cling to anything that gives them their own cultural identity (son of immigrants marries small-town girl turned superstar? Right to the front page!). But honestly, a national funeral? Why? Just because he was married to Celine Dion? Are we that desperate for celebrities? Apparently!

26 years her senior, he turned her into a star starting at 12, carried on a quiet affair with her for years before they announced they were dating…ugh… and this was a man who’d been married twice before and already had three children. That’s just all sorts of wrong. When she was 26, he 51, they married, a marriage her own mother opposed. Now, I know that love comes in many forms, and it’s wrong to knock it down when it happens, but I’m with her Mom. And never mind that technically they shouldn’t have even been allowed to marry in any Catholic church (he was divorced/annulled, whatever), let alone THE biggest Catholic church in the province. Never mind that the whole story just makes the skin crawl. Go on and believe what you will, I suppose.

Sure, the marriage lasted all these years, and for that they get all credit. But what else did he do? His own pop career fizzled, so he managed a few other Quebeçois artists until Celine hit it big… um… they bought the Nickels restaurant franchise, and part of Schwartz’s,  so I suppose he helped run that? Never mind the reports of a woman coming forward to say he was sexually inappropriate (and she and her partner were later paid off, and then charged with extortion, what a tangle), and that Celine wasn’t wearing her wedding ring and there was talk of divorce… until he got sick and the ring came right back. Surely that’s nothing.

Oh, and he had a massive gambling habit, probably mostly her (their) money. Neither of them were born to a silver spoon, so it feels way off that they wouldn’t have more appreciation. But the worst, for me, was their 15 year old son’s eulogy, in which he talked about how he was just getting to know his Dad (whut), and through his Dad’s interests (not his). And don’t forget to mention smoked meat because it brings it back to Quebec, even though they haven’t even lived in Canada in forever. And where were his other kids (from his previous marriages) in all this? From what I saw of the CBC’s coverage, it mostly showed Celine and her kids… The whole thing just feels calculated and gross, like a cover-up of some ugly truths.

Celine called herself Angelil’s masterpiece. Ha sure. Meanwhile it was her talent doing all the hard work, and right from the get-go the whole thing has been svengali creepy. Still, I’m sure there was lots nice about him, and a lavish funeral service in a big church (because they have money to afford it all) would be understandable. And maybe, many years from now when Celine dies, I could better understand a national funeral. But a national funeral, paid for by the province, for that guy? No. Non.

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