- Death & Loss of Life
Why You Are Sad Paul Walker Died
When a Celebrity Dies
Anytime a mega-watt celebrity dies, it is going to gain massive attention. The recent and tragic death of Paul Walker caught many by surprise, including people who were not all that familiar with the actor. Since his passing, the level of interest in Paul Walker’s life and death has skyrocketed.
For the year 2013, Google announced the name “Paul Walker” ranked number 2 for global searches. Judging from what we see in popular social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, it appears many people were deeply affected by his death and are mourning.
To help better understand what may be happening emotionally with fans and casual observers of Paul Walker, I decided to interview an expert.
Interview: Dr. John D. Moore
Dr. John D. Moore is author of the best-selling book, Confusing Love with Obsession and a licensed mental health counselor. He holds a PhD in Psychology from Northcentral University and teaches courses in psychology and human behavior at American Military University.
Moore also leads 2nd Story Consultants, a behavioral sciences training and wellness firm in Chicago. His work has been featured in many popular media outlets, including Web MD, The Los Angeles Times, Men’s Health and Cosmo.
I caught up with Moore and asked him a few questions.
How sad were you that Paul Walker Died?
Let's Jump Right In
Why is there so much interest now in Paul Walker?
There are a couple of things going on here. First, Paul Walker was already an immensely popular actor to begin with. To a greater or lesser degree, he has been in our living rooms for a number of years – through television, movies and magazines. And so many people felt they knew the actor through his work.
What role did the accident involving Paul Walker have in elevating his profile?
Part of what increases awareness and sadness around a celebrity’s death is the nature in which they died. The younger and more tragic the death of the celebrity, the higher the interest level will be. That he died over a holiday weekend in the United States meant that many more people heard about it.
When we look at celebrity deaths that have happened over the past several decades, like John F. Kennedy Jr, Princess Diana, Heath Leger and now Paul Walker, we see the common threads of youth, attractiveness and sudden, unexpected death. What drives up interest in Walker’s death is the amount of irony involved.
John D. Moore's Book
Can you expand on that – What do You mean?
Many of the roles he played involved fast cars, particularly in the Fast and Furious movies. That he died in a car accident where speed, for whatever reason, is suspected to be involved makes his death ironically tragic.
Is this why we are seeing the constant comparisons to James Dean?
Absolutely! Like Dean, Walker was tied to fast cars, speed and of course, beauty. Dean and Walker share a lot of similarities, including the state in which they died and the manner in which they died – car accidents.
Do people form emotional bonds with celebrities?
You bet they do. The bond is formed through a common interest or experience. In the case of Walker, he had several things that were going on which tied him to a large fan base.
First, if you love cars you are probably going to like Paul Walker. Many of his movies involved cars, particularly high speed cars. This kind of appeal is going to draw in a lot of people, particularly guys.
Second, Walker was a teen-idol to many, particularly females. What can I say – the guy won over a lot of hearts with his good looks and warm personality. So whenever you have someone who starts off as a teen-idol, you are going to have a built in fan base that is generational in nature.
Third, Walker was involved with marine life and the environment. Score another entire group of people who will follow him and by extension, be considered fans.
Is there something morbid about wanting to know details of his accident?
No. This is a very common reaction to celebrity death – particularly if the nature of how they died was tragic or mysterious. To keep it real, it is only normal to want to know details of how that person died. To this day, there are still active conversations about what caused Princess Diana’s death and President Kennedy’s death. Truth is ... the details and minutia fascinate us.
Were you a fan of Paul Walker?
Yes – and I was deeply saddened by his death. Like everybody else, I was shocked to hear of the news. I recently watched him in Hours, which I consider to be one of his best movies.
So what can people do to work through what they are feeling?
I think there are a couple of things. I don’t have data on this but I think it is a safe bet to say that sales of movies and memorabilia have probably shot up. And so watching some of his flicks likely helps to remind folks why they liked the guy in the first place. Because at its core, we are dealing with mass public grief and mourning.
I would say a way of moving through these feelings is to reach out to others who are sharing the same reactions of loss and sadness. There are several wonderful Paul Walker fan sites online, including Facebook. RIP Paul Walker is a great one. Talking about what a celebrity means to us can be very cathartic and helpful.
Keep in mind too that if we have personally lost someone, like a friend of family member, a celebrity’s death can often stir up unresolved grief.
Walker had a charity called Reach Out Worldwide. Does donating help?
For many people, yes – that can help with the grief process. As an aside, the fact that he had a charity paradoxically plays into the irony of his death and now legend.
And so if someone decides to give to his charity as a way of remembering – that makes sense.
Thank you for your time Dr. Moore
---End of Interview---
Paul Walker's Charity is Reach Out Worldwide
© 2013 John Hollywood