Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Kobe Bryant, a renowned NBA basketball player, was killed during a helicopter crash in Calabasas along with his 13 year old daughter, Gianna and seven others. From his hard-working character to the love that he had for his family, Kobe Bryant was a person that many people looked up to.
His untimely death affected everybody, whether they were fans of him or not. Many, including myself, were in disbelief when they heard the news of his passing and even thought that his death was just another joke posed by the internet. Despite not knowing anything about basketball much less about Kobe Bryant’s basketball career, I was in shock of his death. The one thing I did know about him was that he was an important figure to many people and the grief that I know that his fans, friends, and family are suffering through were insurmountable. Even weeks later, the idea that basketball legend Kobe Bryant has died is incredulous to most people. This poses the question, why is it so hard for people to fathom the death of Kobe Bryant?
Of course, Kobe Bryant’s death is not the only instance in which most people are in shock. Many of the deaths of esteemed celebrities such as Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, Princess Diana and Heath Ledger have brought initial doubt. According to Psychology Today, the lack of acceptance of the deaths of these celebrities is no coincidence. This phenomenon is because we fail to see celebrities as real people. Only a small amount of celebrities' personalities are shown on TV, leading us to have an idealized and simplified version of a human being in our mind. But this version is likely far from reality.
The passing of somebody so admired is almost unsettling because it shows that even the most loved people cannot escape the inevitability of death. Celebrities’ deaths destroy the cultural myths that we have about them, like that they are invincible. According to Today, the grief that we feel for celebrities is associated with what is called a parasocial relationship, or a one-sided connected with a person we don't really know. This phenomenon is also present in deaths in TV shows or books.
So to answer the question, the reason why it is so hard for people to fathom the death of Kobe Bryant is because people put celebrities like him on a pedestal. This is not to say that Bryant doesn’t deserve the recognition that he gets, because in reality he is a very accomplished person that has made a long-lasting impact on society. But dehumanizing him and making him out to be a “superhuman” is unfair to him because the truth is, he was just a human who had dreams just like everybody else.