Is Aretha Franklin getting enough respect? Critics of funeral selfies and celeb worship say no

Beth Greenfield
Senior Editor
Aretha Franklin is getting a star-studded sendoff on Friday. (Photo: Getty Images)

The late, great Aretha Franklin is getting a sendoff fit for a Queen of Soul all day on Friday, but many people watching from afar are worried that memorial service attendees are not giving Franklin the R-E-S-P-E-C-T she deserves.

Pulpit selfies, Bill Clinton worship, Ariana Grande’s “club dress,” and various examples of celebrity networking are some of the behaviors being called out by critics on social media for being inappropriate at what’s meant to be a day to honor a woman who has died.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Funerals, as one angry tweeter noted, are “not for networking opportunities and selfies,” with another commenting that “some of the behaviors seem wildly inappropriate for the occasion.”

Still, the daylong, star-studded church service is not meant to be a day of sorrowful mourning. “Everybody don’t do funerals like we do in the black church,” gospel artist Marvin Sapp, who will be among the performers, told the Associated Press. “We don’t even call them funerals. We call them ‘home-going services,’ and we know how to send people home.”

Sapp added, “We really celebrate because we really recognize that those we call the ‘dearly departed,’ they wouldn’t want for us to cry and be sad and sorrowful. They would want us to celebrate their lives because they transitioned from this life to a better one.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

But should a celebration of life include selfies and sexy outfits? Plenty seem to think those and other behaviors are going too far.

The idea of taking selfies at funerals, specifically, has been an ongoing conversation that has people divided. In 2013, the Tumblr Selfies at Funerals created a huge uproar as it documented the digital-age shift in etiquette. The final post on the page, entitled, “Obama has taken a funeral selfie, so our work here is done,” showed the then-POTUS taking a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. Last year, a prominent funeral director in Quebec spoke out against the practice. A 2015 survey in the United Kingdom found that one-third of mourners had taken funeral selfies.

Essence, on Twitter, is taking a survey throughout the day, asking: “Are selfies appropriate at a funeral?” So far, 87 percent say no. Weigh in below!

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