This is such a great question, and it has, I think, the opportunity to teach us all something important about how human nature operates.
First...I don't think that anyone should be told that any one person's death is more or less important than any others. No one can be told who they can and cannot mourn, or for what reason.
Having said that, I would like to list a few psychological reasonings I think might play a part in this.
I know how it goes. People says "RIP" on Facebook all the time, and that's pretty much it. It's similar to "Facebook Activism" or "Facebook Politics", which is to say...it's pretty easy to 'raise awareness' for pretty much anything if all you have to do is click a button on your mouse or respond to a post once.
If all condolences in the world were shared via Facebook or Twitter, and not in person, or through memorial services or candle-lit vigils, mourning might lose it's meaning entirely.
So...Why do people tend to 'notice' the deaths of celebrities, or feel saddened by them MORE than the deaths of those people who have chosen to fight for their rights, freedoms, or protection from harm?
Why is the life of a famous artist seemingly
more important than the life of someone who puts their life on the line for us all?
First, let's look at true heroes, who rarely receive the amount of response as celebrities do when they pass on:
1) Real heroes, like firemen, policemen, soldiers...If they do their job well, they are mostly invisible to everyone else. If you saw a soldier right outside your window, firing on the enemy, then you are in dire straits, no? The fact that you don't see what they go through each and every day on your behalf is part of the reason they are so heroic to you. They are unsung...They don't do what they do in public, for recognition or accolades, but because it's the right thing to do.
2) Most military people I know (as an example) actually feel uncomfortable when they are applauded or thanked for their service. They understand the sentiment, but they don't require it, if that makes sense. They don't fight because they want to be remembered for it, or because they hate the enemy before them. They do it because they love the people BEHIND them, that they are protecting and shielding.
3) First responders and those who fight and die for our freedom are mourned. They are mourned by their brothers in arms, by their hometowns, by their families, and many more. Just because everyone doesn't know the story of Diego Rincon, doesn't mean he didn't have a huge impact on his community by his passing.
The story of Diego Rincon:
Here's the flipside...And please keep in mind, I've met quite a few famous people myself, and really don't find myself starstruck by them, in fact, I was underwhelmed at how just plain human they were.
1) Musicians, actors, authors, and artists of all stripes CREATE things...It doesn't matter if they create characters, tell stories, make songs...
Human beings are very different from every other animal in that we don't just live in the here and now. We, of all forms of life in Creation, exist constantly taking both our past and our future into account. Following that logic, we are also the only animal who exists as much in reality as we do in our own thoughts and imaginations. We exist in escapist worlds of entertainment as much as in the real world of work and toil. (By the way, did the death of a fictional character ever cause you to cry?)
We make decisions based on past ones. We fear the future if we don't know what it brings. No other animal 'leaves' the present as much as we do, through memories or imagination.
As a result, the artistic works of "famous" people stick with us.
When someone plays a song by the late Nat King Cole, Baby Boomers all over the place will remember the youthful optimism they felt in times past when they heard that song for the first time, or the 500th time. Our minds choose to remind us of good things, and things we associate with warm memories. For most of us, we can remember the 'hit song' of the time, or some other famous association of the era.
Some people might go so far as to say that they were inspired to be something in life by the actions or deeds of a fictional person who never even existed. Or a person who did exist, but was only famous for one thing.
2) We often feel connected to particular celebrities because we identify THE PERSON with what effect they had on us at that moment in time in our past. Maybe an artist performed a song that stuck with you because something momentous happened to you. So, you associate that famous person (as well as their work) with what happened to you, good or ill. You've given that famous person a little real estate in your heart and mind, and when you lose them, it's just like losing anything or anyone else important to you.
3) "Collective Mourning" can connect many of us. Let's forget famous musicians and actors for a moment...Were you sorry to hear about the passing of Billy Graham? Can you imagine the outpouring of loss that may have accompanied the passing of C.S. Lewis? Feeling empathy on a large-scale is not that different from feeling it on a small scale, but it can have the effect of connecting people who otherwise might not have had common ground. We might, through our loss, find others who share our worldview and values that we did not have a connection with before the loss.
4) Sometimes when a famous person dies, it's how they died that affects us. If a famous person dies of the EXACT same cancer as someone you personally valued in your own life, it can be a sober reminder of that other person. Sometimes famous people remind us just how human they are because they are subject to the same foibles, the same diseases, the same ailments as all the rest of us. Sometimes, being reminded that everyone is human is okay, even if it takes someone who is famous for no apparent reason to remind us of that fact.
It is not disrespectful to the heroes among us if we mourn the loss of those who only entertained us. It does not diminish the ultimate sacrifices of useful citizens, when arguably less useful people pass.
Sometimes, the impact has nothing to do with a person's fame, it's just the event itself is memorable.
Here's a thought experiment for you: Name at least three people involved in the Kennedy Assassination in the 60s.
I was not alive then, but right off the top of my head, I can name Governor Connelly, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, Abraham Zapruder, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Clearly all of these people didn't die, but you still know the names.
Okay, now name three people involved with the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion...Teacher Christa McAuliffe, and uh.... Okay, that's harder...
Now...name three people by name from when the planes (either of them) hit the Twin Towers (either of them) on September 11, 2001, or name three of the first responders who died after coming to help...
Those who died in each of these incidents suffered no less tragic deaths than any other. All of the people involved in all three of these events saw hundreds of thousands or even millions of mourners.
But you can only name a few of the people involved. If Hugh Jackman or Lady Gaga (like them or dislike them) had been in one of the jets on 9-11, you'd never forget that fact, mourning or not, right?
In closing, I completely understand the camp that wonders why the "respect" is given to famous people who maybe don't deserve it, versus the unfamous people who do.
Believe me, as a father to an Army Sgt, I totally get it.
Having said that...Sometimes people have a bigger impact than we know. In Stan Lee's case, he was a very early and vocal opponent of racism and bigotry, and will always be remembered as such.
Maybe Stan Lee (Lieberman) didn't have a huge effect on your own life, but at the bare minimum, the reaction to his passing spurned this interesting conversation, didn't it?
Bless you all, just some thoughts to consider.