Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So Serious

I actually have a backlog of things to blog about - Paul Verhoeven's Black Book, the films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, more musings on the writers' strike. Even the Oscar nominations were announced today, with many pleasant and worthy surprises. But, it all gets trumped by the death of Heath Ledger.

While I'm sure others have made the same comparison, his passing echoes that of River Phoenix. Both came seemingly out of the blue, cutting short a life and career of so much promise. I've read bits of the play-by-play regarding the discovery of his body, the succinct obituaries that naturally touched on Brokeback Mountain and the upcoming The Dark Knight. I can't really read any more.

I feel compelled to point out that I am not - nor have I been - a die hard fan. In truth, I've maybe seen a couple of his films, Brokeback Mountain among them. So, I'm not so sure why this has hit me so deeply. Is it simply the suddenness? Is it the eerie stain now associated with the Batman Begins sequel? Or, is it something a bit more human? A two-year-old girl who will grow up without a father.

I won't wax on the "legitimacy" of mourning for a celebrity. Yes, young men die everyday, and in such a light Ledger's passing is nothing special. But, the truth is - whether any of us want to accept it or not - that when some anonymous twentysomething is reported dead in the newspaper or on the news, we have less of a connection to that person. No matter how much many of us deride "celebrity culture", the fact of the matter is that we are acquainted with these people, either by virtue of their notoriety or of their actual contributions to the arts, politics, entertainment, whatever. Okay. I guess I did wax a little bit.

I feel for this loss. For his family, friends, and loved ones. For the body of work that will never be. For the last moments of his life, the true details of which no one may ever know. Why so serious, indeed....


Jason Newhouse said...

I second that, man. Eun Ju called me and asked if I had heard the news. I had not and it was a shock. Guy so young and full of promise. What a complete and utter shadow cast on this day and his last performance this summer.

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