'Rehab': Celebrity Mantra of 2007 – and Grammy Winner

Amy Winehouse, a British soul singer, collected five Grammys at the 2008 Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year for her hit song “Rehab.” 

Ironically, Winehouse, who sings in her hit song “I won't go go go” to rehab, is currently seeking treatment for substance abuse in a London facility after a video surfaced last month in which she appeared to be smoking crack. 

Winehouse has been a tabloid fixture over the past months for her well-documented personal problems with substance abuse and a husband incarcerated for his role in a pub brawl.

One would think Grammy voters would be a bit more sensitive to issues like rehab and substance abuse, especially given the number of celebrities who have sought help in overcoming various addictions in the past year.  Instead they rewarded bad celebrity behavior.

Entertainment Weekly's music critic Chris Willman reportedly said, “(The Recording Academy) makes a big deal out of social responsibility, particularly in regard to their anti-drug programs. I figured they'd be too scared to reward someone who looked to all the world like an unwilling candidate for one of those programs – since voting closed before she went into rehab.  But with these wins, they said art comes first, as it should be.”

But USA Today correctly pointed out that “a desperately troubled young woman singing about refusing help for a substance-abuse problem seemed more reckless than humorous.” 

A look at any of the tabloids that cover celebrities' troubles with addiction could convince anybody it's “reckless” to promote the rejection of help. 

In 2007, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan each entered rehab facilities at three different points.   Other celebrities in the 2007 rehab brigade include British rockers Pete Doherty and Robbie Williams, actors Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Gary Collins, Desperate Housewives' Jesse Metcalfe, fashion designer Marc Jacobs and musicians Richie Sambora and Eddie Van Halen.   This indicates addiction is a widespread problem.  

Less than a month into 2008, actors Brad Renfro and Heath Ledger died of drug overdoses.  A few weeks later, three other actresses, Sean Young, who entered a facility after drunkenly heckling people at the Screen Actors Guild awards, Eva Mendes and Kirsten Dunst are all reportedly in rehab.

Wouldn't the Recording Academy be more socially responsible if it refused to reward artists who glamorize addiction?   

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Institute