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How Celebrity Overdose and Death is Portrayed in the Media

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It’s no surprise that one of Hollywood’s biggest secrets is which celebrity is using which drugs. We as the fans would never know what celebrity is using what if not for the media. For example, there was speculation that rapper G-Eazy was using cocaine, but nothing was proven until he was arrested on May 3, 2018 in Sweden for substance possession and assault.

Unfortunately, another way we learn what celebrity is using, is if they pass away. Notable celebrity overdoses include Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, and most recently, Mac Miller. While the loss of a favorite singer or actor is tragic, the way the media portrays their image before and after their death is interesting and largely unequal, especially when drugs are involved.

This summer, Demi Lovato was rushed to the hospital following an overdose. Within a few hours of the news, celebrities and fans poured in love and support for the singer, who has been open with her addiction to cocaine and Oxycontin in the past. However, as the days dragged on, many people began to question her character, even disseminating misinformation at times. There were many reports that the drug she overdosed on was heroin as Narcan was used to help revive her at the time of her overdose.

Her drug dealer, a man named Brandon Johnson even did an interview with TMZ, stating Lovato knew of the dangers of using “aftermarket drugs.” This interview was conducted as the singer was fighting for her life, yet he was not apprehended by police, despite admitting to giving the singer the drugs that caused her overdose. While the news of her overdose has since died down, it is interesting to note how the media was more concerned over her overdose and the drugs that caused it than they were for her well being.

Mac Miller sadly passed away early this month and the love and support for his family and friends poured in from all around the world, the same as when Lovato overdosed. However, no one was actively looking for what he overdosed on. The toxicology reports have yet to be revealed. Whereas Lovato was portrayed as falsely using heroin and many reports stressed that she was partying the night before, Miller was being remembered for all the good that he had done throughout his career.

Does an overdose that results in death mean a more compassionate response from the media? If Lovato had passed away from her overdose, would the response had been different?

I’m in no way saying Miller’s passing was not tragic, nor am I downplaying his talent as an artist, but what I am saying is that why are we focusing on the negative aspects of Lovato’s overdose and the positive aspects of Mac Miller’s career, despite them both being accomplished artists, who were open with their drug battles. Does it all have to do with the fact that Miller passed away and Lovato survived? Many people blamed Lovato for being an addict unable to stay sober, yet were so quick to blame Miller’s ex girlfriend, Ariana Grande, for breaking up with him and getting engaged, which some fans believe led to his overdose.

Many young artists and actors are using drugs in the Hollywood crowd, but an overdose, whether or not it results in death, should not determine how they are portrayed in the media. A death is a tragedy, regardless.


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