“Rolling Stones members felt L’Wren Scott ‘was their Yoko Ono.’” No, it’s not something borderline-offensive from The Onion — it’s a real headline from the NY Post, and the latest milestone in their race to the bottom of journalism. I’m not going to link the article, because fuck their pageviews, but here are the “good” bits: an unnamed “source” says the Rolling Stones didn’t like L’Wren Scott, they called her “Yoko,” they didn’t want to wear the outfits she designed for their tour, and it was a “huge blow” to Scott that Jagger didn’t invite her to tour with them. The rest of the article is rehashing and aggregating old quotes from other sources, along with a few hand-wringing references to “reports” that say Jagger’s not well.
It’s pretty much par for the course for the Post, whose publisher may or may not fuck pigs (although it’d be irresponsible to speculate), and who have constantly been unrepentant about publishing things that have turned out to be complete and utter horseshit. Getting upset with tabloids for publishing sensational, questionably sourced non-news is like getting upset with your pet rabbits for humping each other, but even so, this shit makes me incredibly angry.
For a start, it should go without saying that publishing what basically amounts to nasty gossip about a woman who committed suicide just a few days ago is in incredibly poor taste — there’s no public interest justification here, just the sort of salacious rubbernecking that gives journalism in general a bad name. (And there’s also the hypocrisy of one of the article’s authors tweeting this — “so sad,” she bleats — shortly before she sinks the boot into a dead woman.)
Even worse, though, is the latent misogyny of the whole, apparently immortal Yoko-breaking-up-the-band idea. It’s amazing and depressing that this stereotype has survived into 2014, but it has, and not just in shitrags like the Post. It shouldn’t really need saying, but the idea of the meddlesome, controlling woman breaking up the tight band of brothers is a load of twaddle based on awful ideas about the role wives, girlfriends, and women in general play in the world of music. If the band members weren’t getting on, it’s something they needed to work out amongst themselves, not by scapegoating a woman who happened to be in love with one of them.
The whole article is clearly disrespectful to Scott, who can’t defend herself, but it also demeans pretty much everyone involved. It’s obviously going to upset her family and loved ones. It suggests that a group of men who have been playing together for 52 years behaved like Spinal Tap. (The Stones have also appeared to hate each other at various moments for about 40 years, a topic they’ve often talked about in the press, and have presumably overcome challenges rather more pressing than who the singer is dating.) This narrative also perpetuates the idea of women as weak, emotionally fragile, irrational creatures. The clear implication is that the band hated Scott, her fashion label was folding, and Jagger didn’t take her on tour — so, the poor tragic thing, she hanged herself with a broken heart.
This is simplistic, presumptuous, and irresponsible. Correlation is not causation, and no one knows the reasons behind Scott’s suicide. The leading cause of suicide is depression, and depression is a condition that respects no socioeconomic boundaries. It’s also one that can just as easily occur without warning or clear causation. Sure, it sounds like Scott was having a tough time. But plenty of people who go through a tough time don’t kill themselves. And plenty of people who look like they have a perfect life do commit suicide.
The bottom line is, this is all speculation, and speculating is exactly what you shouldn’t do after a tragedy. If the band really did say “Here comes Yoko,” well, fuck ’em, and I’m sure they’re not sleeping very easy at the moment. But even if the reports from the Post‘s “source” are true — and to be honest, if the Post said it was sunny, I’d pack an umbrella — this sort of ambulance-chasing demeans everyone. The way that much of the press covered Scott’s suicide was already depressing, but you can always rely on the tabloids to lower the bar.