America is still shaking its head over the mass shooting that took place in Orlando in the early hours of June 12. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 were injured as a man named Omar Mateen went inside LGBTQ nightclub Pulse with an AR-15 type rifle and a handgun and opened fire. Mateen was also killed by police. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only high-profile shooting that happened in that same town that weekend.
Christina Grimmie, a 22-year-old singer who competed on the NBC singing-competition show “The Voice,” died of gunshot wounds when 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl shot her after her June 10 show at Orlando’s The Plaza Live. (Loibl eventually shot and killed himself after being tackled by Grimmie’s brother Marcus.)
The news of the Pulse shooting may have overshadowed Grimmie’s death, but it’s a shooting that should not be forgotten, especially if people are going to fight for stricter gun-control laws. Reports say Loibl was an obsessed fan who came to the show with two handguns, several loaded magazines and a hunting knife.
When a young life like Grimmie’s gets taken away like that, it makes me concerned about our celebrity-obsessed culture. Because of social media, the public has more access to celebrities than ever before. If you want to know what any famous person is doing at any time, they’ll practically tell you on Twitter or show you on Snapchat. Not to mention that many internet celebs (like Grimmie, who originally started out posting covers and vlogs on YouTube) make it their thing to record and capture every moment of their lives for their fans, whether they’re vlogging on YouTube or doing live dispatches on Periscope.
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Grimmie’s death has obviously shaken many celebrities and many in the online world. Security was beefed up at VidCon, the Anaheim, Calif.-based gathering of internet stars and their fans that happened over the weekend. There were 450 security officers, twice the number the convention had last year, for the three-day event. Fans also had to go through metal detectors before entering the Twitter Meet and Greet Hall. As for fans actually getting to interact with their favorite online celebs, VidCon put the kibosh on that this year.
In a statement recently posted on its Tumblr blog, VidCon expressed why these changes had to be implemented. “This sucks; obviously, we don’t want to build a wall between creators and their communities, but it is unfortunately necessary,” the statement read. “As in all years we want VidCon to be fun, but you can’t have fun without being safe, and the VidCon Team is committed to making sure that everyone’s safety is the number one priority.”
It’s a sad but true fact that these young online creators have to be wary of whom they reach out to and who’s following them. But the act of unstable folks looking to get themselves in the spotlight by shooting somebody famous is nowhere near a new thing. Nor, of course, are the gun-control debates that spark up after these shootings occur. If people choose to be in the public eye, they have to be more aware of who their fans are, especially if guns continue to be simple to access and horrendous shootings become commonplace.
Craig Lindsey can be reached at email@example.com.