In 1994 after Kurt Cobain killed himself, Andy Rooney went on a rant in a 60 Minutes piece lamenting the extent of lamenting being done over Kurt’s suicide. Rooney suggested many people would like to be awarded the years Cobain threw away and then went on to excoriate young people for having it so easy. “What would they have done if they had to endure real problems like The Depression or World War II?” The topper came when Rooney mused, If Cobain used the same brain on his music he used in his drug infested life, his music probably didn’t make much sense either!
It’s not often I agree with Rooney, but this piece seemed reasonable to me. In the end, however, like a good liberal, Rooney apologized, Perhaps I was unfair.
Last week when I found out Suzanne Pleshette passed away, I thought, bummer, she was hot in her day, and I enjoyed her comedic talent as a kid watching her on Bob Newhart’s show. Even with the raspy voice she seemed like one of the family, humble, polite, and warm, and we certainly didn’t label her as the destructive sort of example which seems to permeate Hollywood culture today.
Upon hearing of Heath Ledger’s death my immediate knee-jerk reaction was good riddance, there goes another spoiled Hollywood brat who came about success way too easily and threw it all away.
I contemplated that for just a moment or two, and realized I wasn’t even sure who Heath Ledger was. Other than knowing he was a young actor, I couldn’t picture his face or name a movie he’d been in. A little research revealed he was nominated for an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain, and had a young daughter who would now grow up without a father because of his irresponsible lifestyle choices.
With the media inundating us with every celebrity transgression, and encouraging the debauchery which is destroying the moral character which has brought our country so far, it’s tough to get too teary-eyed over some young celebrity’s death (even though in reflection I might be just a bit apologetic for my initial sentiments about an unknown actor).
There are guys who will work 60 or 70 hours a week in dangerous professions for the next thirty to forty years and not make as much money as Heath Ledger had by the tender age of 28. While the Hollywood bunch mourns a voluntary drug-induced loss, some young woman and her children are praying their husband and father is recovered from a collapsed coal mine, alive.
The fact the Hollywood crowd has become so upset over this tragedy only makes it seem like poetic justice. This tragedy has been constructed by Hollywood’s own hand and encouraged by a hedonistic culture that derides faith, an honest hard work.
When the most admired and reported upon people in American culture comprise, Paris-never worked a day in her life-Hilton, Lindsay-the drunk-Lohan, and Britney-prime candidate for next dead celebrity-Spears, and we subsequently get to witness our children fawn over these brilliant stars , it is unfortunately good to see the result of such lifestyles.
While moms and dads are doing the best they can to encourage responsibility and ingrain a good work ethic, the celebrity set in concert with our ignoble media does everything it can to ridicule our traditional values, chastise our efforts, and ingratiate our kids; as if our job wasn’t hard enough already.
When our kids ask us to get their tit pierced or their necked tattooed with a Japanese engraved saber because Angelina Jolie thinks it’s cool, as long as spoiled celebrities keep killing themselves, at least we can say, Do you think it’s cool to be dead by twenty-eight?
Owen Wilson tried to kill himself while he had a cushy job, lots of free time, fame, tons of dough, and every hot piece of poon tang that crossed his path wanted to nail him.
I guess I’d be depressed too.
Copyright 2008 Jim Pontillo