It was such a shock to hear the news that Betty White had passed away on New Year’s Day. It’s the kind of detail that is typically found in folklore.
2021 was par for the course, so far as our modern deficit of good stories and something to look forward to goes. There really wasn’t all that much happening for those of us who take public health issues seriously.
Betty White was loved by pretty much everyone. She invited everyone to celebrate her 100th birthday with her. Companies all over were planning celebrations. There is a casino less than an hour from me that had a HUGE Betty White birthday party celebration plan.
Now those plans are up in the air. I am going to suggest that they have the birthday party anyway. Betty White wouldn’t want people to be sad.
Last night I got on a New Year’s Eve Zoom call with Noodle Muffin. As we talked about Betty White, someone gave mention to “Betty White Privilege.” Within minutes, someone in our group created an NFT of it. Of course, I instantly took a screenshot and sold it for 420 Ethereum.
Okay, I didn’t actually sell anything. But someone did make this.
It got me thinking: What would Betty White Privilege be?
To understand it, we’ll have to take into accounts the personality traits of Betty White that made her what she was to those who cared about her.
Betty White was kind to everyone: This is evident only in the utter lack of negative news stories about her.
Betty White stood up for people, when very few would: In 1953, a major network threatened Betty White with show cancellation because she had a Black dancer on the show. She stood up for him, and stood up TO them. This was a bold move in 1953, and she did it.
Betty White encouraged civil discussion: Imagine if you met Betty White. What would you say? Would you start railing about politics and conspiracies? My guess is probably not. There is something about her that zaps the mean feelings from the room.
Betty White was a master at playing dumb in acting roles: Betty White is one of those smart women who plays dumb very well, as was the case in Golden Girls. Her expressions and comedic timing were amazing. Along those lines, I also rank Christina Applegate as another who is very good at playing dumb, like her portrayal of Kelly Bundy in Married… With Children.
Betty White was versatile: While she played the wholesome, non-offensive roles like she did in Golden Girls, I loved that she could play mean and demented roles like the one she had in the 1999 horror film, Lake Placid.
Betty White seemed to be a truly wholesome person: Too many people in our society are on a constant campaign to let you know that THEY are a good person. They tell us this constantly, because NOBODY would ever guess it based on what they say and do. But Betty never had to tell anyone who or what she was. All she had to do was show us.
The list goes on, and I suspect that continuing would be a case of preaching to the choir. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about Betty White.
Personally, I would love to encounter more people like Betty White in real life. Wouldn’t the world be a magnificent place if everyone could be more kind?
In America, kindness is often times mistaken for weakness, or even stupidity. This is NOT true. Weakness is weakness, stupidity is stupidity, and kindness is kindness. NEVER mistake Betty White’s kindness for weakness or stupidity, or she just might feed you to a giant gator.
In comedy, that’s called the call-back.
But should I ever encounter someone who is like this, I will thank them for being so kind, and will remind them to, “Check your Betty White Privilege.”
Humor is a great way of dealing with tragedy and loss. I remember how I felt when I was 16 and got word that John Lennon had died. It wasn’t because I felt that I had a parasocial relationship with him, as I’d never had any communications with him, and had never tried. Celebrities were hard to reach back then.
For me, the world felt like a significantly more empty place when he was gone. And he has been gone for longer than he was alive, which blows my mind.
It’s like that friend that you talk with every so often, and then one day you find out that they’re not here anymore. They didn’t even make a daily appearance in your life, and the world still feels a bit more empty because of it.
I am certain there are Betty White fans who are feeling this way, and I understand it, even though I wasn’t really the biggest Betty White fan. All the same, I found her to be adorable and charming, and I appreciated what she contributed to the world with her kindness.
Given the communications abilities of our modern age, I’m sure that some people may have felt a type of parasocial relationship with her. This is where a fan has personal feelings for a celebrity, while the celebrity has absolutely NO idea that the fan exists.
People who experience these sensations might need help to deal with her passing. Therapy goes a long way toward helping people cope with the feelings they have when they experience a loss.
While parasocial relationships are VERY unhealthy and unrealistic, all the same I would recommend taking the impact of Betty White’s passing on them seriously. Help them through it.
Later, they can work on fixing the parasocial thing.
I think that Betty White would want everyone to celebrate her 100th birthday anyway. I mean, everyone who was ready to celebrate has already made plans. They’ve even booked hotel rooms. Yes, it’s that big of a deal to some. And for them, I say, celebrate the life of Betty White and consider yourself fortunate to have experienced a type of person who is so sadly and unfortunately rare in our species.
RIP, Betty White.