Crestfallen. Heartbroken. That’s how I felt when I read the news about the recent death
of the new daughter of Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons and his wife, Justine, stars of the hit MTV reality show ‘Run’s House.’
Rev. Run, 41, a former Run-DMC rap group member, recently issued a statement that read:
“On September 26, 2006, Victoria Anne Simmons for some unknown reason chose to come early and unfortunately did not survive. We must accept whatever is there and once you accept unconditionally, then everything is beautiful. Every pain has a purifying effect. So whatever comes your way, just be thankful. We see life in death and believe in the celebration of life in death.”
According to MTV spokesman Graham James, Rev. Run and Justine’s newborn daughter was delivered last week at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J, but it is still unclear whether or not MTV cameras filmed the sad event as the tragedy unfolded.
“I just spoke to Joey and Justine, and they’re very strong – the whole family is very strong,” All Headline News quotes Run’s older brother, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, as saying, adding, “I’m sure MTV was there.”
If in fact MTV cameras were rolling in hopes of capturing the highly-anticipated event, but instead filmed the as-it-happened heartrending experience of the newborn’s death instead, the next logical question is: Should MTV broadcast the death?
Which further begs us all to ask ourselves: Have we gone too far in our caught-on-tape culture? Are we too greedy for in-your-face journalism that only whets our insatiable need to peek further and further into the private lives of others?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.
After the tragic death of Steve Irwin, Yahoo’s buzz log reported that “macabre searches on ‘Steve Irwin death video’ and ‘Steve Irwin death pictures’…began to crop up.”
Yes, we are a world obsessed with witnessing for ourselves up-to-the-minute, real life, real death, real time events – but the intent behind the voyeurism is the true lynchpin. While some seek the sickening thrill that can come with watching tragedy unfold, others feel such a strong kinship with TV personalities, they want to know as much as possible about the people that feel as close as (or many times, closer than) family.
Both of those feelings war within me now, as I write this with moisture welling in my eyes, my stomach muscles tightened. Even creating this piece feels like a little bit of ambulance chasing, like profiting off of another’s tragic loss.
But I, like millions of others, watched Rev. Run leave the room on the season-two finale so he wouldn’t cry over his eldest “baby,” Vanessa, moving to California to pursue her acting career. I cheered inside at the divine order of things as her move made room in their house for new life.
I understood the fervent desire and prayers of Justine – who has two sons, 10-year-old Daniel (Diggy), and eight-year-old Russell (Russy), with Simmons – to give birth to a girl. (Simmons has three other children, Vanessa, 22, Angela, 18, and Joseph, 16, from his first marriage to Valerie Vaughn.)
Though us viewers can in no way know the depth of the pain the Simmons family is feeling now, we can at least “weep with those who are weeping,” as Rev. Run, an ordained minister with the Manhattan-based Zoe Ministries, might type in one his popular email messages that always end with, “God is love.”
Though Rev. Run and Justine and their brood now face a loss akin to Job’s in the Bible, the Simmons family has already used their personal challenge to act as strong witnesses for the Christian faith.
Unlike the similarly tragic death of a baby born to Prince and former-wife Mayte Garcia – a boy reportedly named Gregory who suffered from Pfeiffer syndrome, a rare skull disease – Rev. Run and Justine’s loss is not shrouded in tons of secrecy or rumors.
Whereas Prince and Mayte understandably left reporters and the public guessing for years as to the exact nature of their loss, the Simmons seem to be using this time of heartbreak as a demonstration to the world that hope lives beyond this present world.
Which brings us back to the title question: If MTV did film the baby’s death, should they air it? In my humble opinion, the answer is yes – as long as it is done tastefully, respectfully, and with the blessing of the Reverend and his loved ones.
Not during sweeps week, not as a cheap ploy to get more of a market share, but to demonstrate exactly why on earth believers like the Simmons can still hope in Jesus at a sorrowful time like this. After all, that’s whose arms their baby girl is resting in right now.
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