It’s no secret that celebrities love to have a camera on them — but should that voyeuristic lifestyle apply even when their lives are over? That is the question being asked by some, as singer Celine Dion chose to aid her grieving for recently-deceased husband Rene Angelil by livestreaming his casket-viewing and funeral this week.
The 47-year-old Canadian singer stood alongside Angelil’s coffin for nearly seven hours on Thursday (Jan. 21), wearing a black veil and sharing tears and hugs with a steady stream of fans and supporters. And if you were unable to attend the viewing at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica, you could view the entirety of it from your computer at home; the funeral on Friday (Jan. 22) was also a livestream.
Throughout the casket viewing, Dion could be seen standing behind a red velvet rope, greeting fans and well-wishers and sharing hugs and words of support. The Canadian network CTV reported that there was a red carpet outside the church, where reporters could ask questions of celebrities in attendance — similar to what would happen at a movie premiere.
Although “records” on such matters are lacking, the livestreaming of funerals by celebrities seems to be gaining momentum. In 2012, Whitney Houston’s funeral may have been the first; nowadays, far lesser-known stars like Lemmy, Craig Strickland and now Angelil are having live cameras placed around their caskets. Of course, it has long been said that funerals are for the living and not the deceased — and if a livestream helps relatives with their grieving, why would anyone question it? But on the other hand, it’s hard to hold any event with red carpets and worldwide-streaming and not invite questions about narcissism — which were seen quite a bit on social media this week regarding the Angelil memorials.
Also worth noting: Angelil reportedly planned many facets of the funeral services himself — perhaps even requesting the livestream.
At the casket viewing, fans tuned in to see Dion accompanied by her 15-year-old son Rene-Charles and other family members as they greeted thousands of visitors. It all took place at the same church where Dion and Angelil were married 21 years earlier, and the singer could frequently be seen on camera trembling and weeping.
Each visitor received a memorial card bearing a quote from the singer: “I understood that my career was in a way his masterpiece, his song, his symphony. The idea of leaving it unfinished would have hurt him terribly. I realized that if he ever left us, I would have to continue without him, for him.”
Nevertheless, one would assume that if the families of Leonard Nimoy, Yogi Berra, Wes Craven and other recently-departed celebrities with significant fanbases could bury those stars without an 8-hour-Web-event, others could as well. To paraphrase Andy Warhol: In the future, will every famous person be buried with round-the-clock streaming footage of them lying still in a casket? Or, should the families of famous people be reminded of the three key words when it comes to death: Rest in Peace?