The Amy-W Syndrome

Okay so there is no such syndrome (let’s hope I don’t get sued).

I’m not here to jump on the band wagon of Amy Winehouse’s death, but we cannot ignore the life and lessons we see in her. We can go back to her musically gifted but broken family or even her embracing a life that has spiraled out of control through substance abuse and addiction and her unhealthy need for companionship and not finding it. All her songs speak of her life, her experiences, she was an open book to the world and she made no secret about it. The life of Amy is a tragedy on so many levels, yet her memory will last only for a short while as is the case of so many superstars and even ordinary people like you and I. The thought that scares me the most is that there will always be another Amy and there are many living amongst us.

The Amy-W  Syndrome is two-fold, I think.

First, it is when we have such talented people, gifted beyond words, that we tend to turn a blind eye to their lifestyles and their struggles. All we are interested in is the “star” in the person. We follow their painstaking steps every single day in wanting know more about them, we follow them on Twitter, we have them as a “friend” on Facebook, have the news clippings and all  that go with it, we even have their songs as ringtones. We forget that they are people in search of answers, whether they will acknowledge that or not (although her lyrics have confessed her desperate plea). Everybody is looking for something, some people are just more vocal about it.

Secondly, because of the person and their lifestyle being so antagonistic to what we embrace as social and godly, we ignore or try to wish away the giftedness of the person. When a person is gifted, then they are gifted. It is a gift to the world, and no, I’m not condoning a lifestyle that is reckless and ungodly. We would hope that the giftedness would be used to honour God, their creator and not to use it in pursuit of narcissism and self gain. Think of how her music has affected so many individuals, people who could identify with her struggles, who lived their lives through her lyrics (and possibly even felt good knowing that someone was worse off than they are).

It is sad to know that the Amy’s will always be with us and that many of them will end up in the Amy-W Syndrome, unless we can make that difference in their lives that they are looking for. Nobody is too far gone for God to save, to give purpose and meaning. I would hope we would get to a point where her death is not a joke or gossip but a lesson of a reality where many of our young people and even adults find themselves caught up in. We all pray that our kids will never end up where Amy did. But look around you and see the many Amy’s walking by you. they might even be in the room next to yours when you sleep at night.


I don’t ever want to drink again

I just, ooh, I just need a friend

I’m not gonna spend ten weeks

Have everyone think I’m on the mend

Rehab by Amy Winehouse

So this is my voice, a sad one at this point…


So I began watching Glee. I know! I know! A bit slow on the whole youth culture thing here. It has been running since 2009 in the States, just another indication of how behind we in South Africa might be (or should I say me?). Yes, I can hear all the DSTV people saying, “I have been watching it for a while dude!” and don’t talk about all the illegal watchers (we know who we are!).

So, what were my first impressions when watching this?

Well, youth culture! That is what I was thinking. Even though we may be far removed from the States and even the rest of the world, we are certainly not far removed when it comes to youth culture. I could easily identify with much of what was happening on Glee with that of our youth in SA.

  1. Peer pressure
  2. Relationships
  3. Sexuality & gender confusion
  4. Drugs
  5. Sexual abuse
  6. Broken & dysfunctional families
  7. Future Goals
  8. Image & self-esteem
  9. Bullies
  10. Marital challenges (in the case of the teacher Mr Schultz)

And all of this in the pilot episode!

Here the big challenge lies for us irrespective of the country we may be living in, are we listening to what our young people are saying? Whether they say it audibly or through their actions. Do we take time out from our busy schedules and actually listen? Or should I say, “will we”? What are the solutions that we offer to them?
Globalization really has come around at an all deafening pace, to keep up is simply a miracle. To all those who are working with young people. To the youth pastors, youth leaders, youth workers, dedicated teachers, parents, I salute you! Lord knows it is no easy job.
 Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)