Josephmooon often wants to talk about fame. What does it mean to be famous? Who is more famous than so-and-so? When will Josephmooon be famous?
Once again, Ronan opened a recent session with questions like, “Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?” “Who’s more famous, Donald Trump or Albert Einstein?”
Of course, he already knows that I consider Beatle drummer Ringo Starr to be the most famous person I’ve ever met. He also is well-aware that rhymes-with-Garbage Dump is (regrettably) the only POTUS I’ve ever met, and that despite his current status globally, I consider Einstein ultimately the more famous figure. That doesn’t stop him from asking, however.
This week I was able to share a tragic example of what it means to be famous – but not really.
On November 5, a small plane crash claimed the life of Marilia Mendonça. Never heard of her? Neither had I, and I do my best to keep up with musical trends around the globe. But the acclaim and devotion afforded this 26-year-old Brazilian pop singer, “known as ‘The Queen of Suffering’ for her angst-filled ballads” (according to The New York Times) had totally escaped my attention as a music fan.
Mendonça was a social media superstar – 38 million followers on Instagram; 22 million YouTube subscribers, and nearly eight million Twitter fans. She was celebrated for a style of Brazilian country music called sertanejo, which told stories of flawed characters and encouraged women to escape abusive relationships. In fact, Mendonça’s music had inspired a subgenre called “feminejo” – music by and for women – that offered a perspective largely absent in sertanejo’s machismo culture, according to a National Public Radio report.
Mendonça perished along with her producer, Henrique Ribeiro, as well as her uncle (who also worked as her assistant), and the private plane’s pilot and co-pilot. The wreckage was found near a waterfall in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, near Caratinga, where Mendonça was scheduled to perform. Brazil’s embattled president Jair Bolsonaro called her “one of the greatest artists of her generation.”
Indeed, Mendonça enjoyed a huge army of fans, but could scarcely be considered a “household name” on par with, say, Columbian superstar, Shakira, or the late queen of Tejano music, Selena, who died in 1995, eight months before Mendonça was born.
So, do we consider Marilia Mendonça “famous?” What do you think?