Deep in the gut of Amy Winehouse, we think, is a brilliant musician and pints of talent. Lately, however, Amy's had some very saddening problems (all of which have been splashed over the media). She's got a history of substance abuse, she's bounced in and out of rehab, and she's admitting having problems with self-harm, depression and eating disorders. But, great things are happening to Amy too- awards, ceremonies, accolades- all of which prove that she's an exceptionally talented young woman. What's becoming clear then is that Amy's a melting pot of abuse and talent, both of which (in many ways) reflect upon the contemporary music industry and stardom.
Recently Amy's been the darling of the media. For example, we were intrigued last week as she cleaned-up at the Grammys (but couldn't accept her award in person). Complementing this success, the media now reminds us, are Amy's multiple and successive wins at the Brit Awards. And in an effort to flesh-out Amy's talent (and provide more media fodder), we've been told how she realized her love of music as a tween, after toying with her older brother's guitar. Lastly, we've been subjected to frenzied reporting on Amy's substance abuse problems. There have been countless photos of her bruised, half-naked and allegedly doped-up.
This is the point at which other things are starting to become clearer. Truly talented people are often tormented, aren't they? I mean, take one of the most famous examples of a tormented and talented artist: Vincent van Gogh. Not everybody cuts their own ear off, do they? For other talents, this torment manifests itself as substance abuse. Another great example would be Elvis Presley, the baby boomers' "King" of rock and roll. It's clear that Amy's a case of a similar kind of tormented talent.
But herein lies the problem for herself and her fans: she's ruining her life, but giving us great music; she's putting others in danger every time she drives a car, but her songs are magic; she's setting a bad example, but she's so entertaining. Amy Winehouse's talent is intimately related to her torment. But of course, this torments her fans too. We want her to be clean, but we love and need her tormented mind (and her tormented mind loves nasty drugs).
Is there a real solution to this dilemma of tormented stardom today? Sure, it's not a fan's position to worry about a star's behaviour, but at the same time, surely it's wrong to encourage destructive behaviour for the sake of entertainment. (How much of what we read about stars and celebrity is a media-beat-up anyway?)
Maybe we're just looking too deeply into Amy Winehouse's gut.