On Tuesday morning, Migos rapper Takeoff was killed in a shooting in Houston – the moment was recorded, posted and even shared by media outlets like TMZ.
When it comes to celebrity deaths, some people’s instinct is to treat the news as entertainment.
We’ve seen this exploitation before, especially when it comes to black celebrities. Consider the leaked photos of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash and, more recently, the bystander video of rapper Pinby Rock’s death that went viral on Instagram. In September.
Takaf was an influential and popular musician, but he was also a human being who deserves respect and compassion, says trauma psychologist Lisandra Leighertwood.
“(It’s) outrageous that the video went viral, because it’s a horrible thing for a family to go through and a horrible thing for people to witness,” Leigertwood says.
“It’s dehumanizing. It’s not like it’s a big deal, it’s when it shows a really gruesome murder.”
More on this:Takaf, one-third of the influential rap group Migos, was killed in a shooting in Houston on the 28th.
What does the video of Taoff’s death say about the people watching it?
Most people never record the death of a stranger, let alone the death of a stranger. So why do we feel more comfortable feeding on the misery of celebrities?
Since the release of the video, search trends on Google related to images and photos of the Takeoff murders have been increasing. Carla Manley, a clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma, says social media is partly to blame for real-life trauma. The modern fixation on likes, views and clicks, she says, often “drives people to do things that are attention-grabbing and unhealthy” — hurting other people’s feelings.
“We don’t stop to see how it affects the individual or their friends, family, and followers. Instead, we get caught up in the emotion. The commercial aspect of compensating their experience for profit.” Manley, author of “Joy from Fear.”
As of Wednesday morning, the body-obscuring footage of Takeoff remained on TMZ’s website. TMZ did not immediately return USA TODAY’s request for comment.
When it comes to high-profile stars, Leigertwood explains, “People sometimes have this idea that[celebrities]put themselves out there, that we owe them inside information about their lives.”
However, these videos have consequences. For the general public, repeated exposure to violence can desensitize us, Manley warns, making it more difficult to extend empathy. And for the victim’s loved ones, this adds an extra layer of stress: Now, they have to worry about the harm they are experiencing through the Internet.
“I’m scared every day of being on social media and living with these popping up,” Vanessa Bryant testified at a recent trial. “I live in fear that my daughters are on social media and these are emerging.”
“This is a true dehumanization of black people.”
On Twitter, footage of Takeoff’s death has sparked grief, but also anger from black Americans, including Bryant, Nipsey Husley (whose footage was shared online in 2019), and now Takeoff, who have repeatedly expressed their frustration at the exploitation of Black Death.
“People don’t always realize how much they perpetuate this idea of black trauma and pain,” Leigertwood calls it “generational trauma.”
“This has been revived and revived by the public. This is a true dehumanization of black people, whose feelings and experiences must always be transcended.”
As human beings, we have a responsibility to be more aware, respectful, giving and giving privacy, says Manley. While the users who spread these images and clips may move on, the damage to the victims’ families is lifelong — especially if it’s relevant to millions of people.
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