Tuesday, January 22, 2008

For What It's Worth: Celebrity & Death

I'll just say it: I'm not broken-up. But, I don't resent people feeling sad about the death of old, caved-in Ennis del Mar. I don't really have anything to say on the matter that I didn't already in a work post about the death of Brad Renfro. So I'll reprint what I said in response to another commenter. Forgive the indulgence, just wanted to weigh in a bit, outside the confines of work.

BY POPE JOHN PEEPS II AT 01/15/08 10:14 PM

@Bell County: I personally find Renfro's loss affecting not because of his child roles but because I've never seen another actor portray and adolescent shrinking into himself as well as he did.

Not to put a dent in your sadness, but that's a really silly reason to find another person's death tragic. At least people can find someone like Bhutto's death tragic because it represents a loss of hope for a particular part of the world. It's reasonably symbolic.

If everyone was being genuinely honest, they'd admit that they don't really give a shit about Brad Renfro, alive or dead. Geez. If you haven't thought once about Brad Renfro in the past 12 months, you can't honestly claim to be sad about his death.

BY LOLCAIT AT 01/15/08 10:27 PM

@Pope John Peeps II: I think we can find sadness and reason for skepticism in both cases. Bhutto was, by many accounts, a corrupt and violently divisive leader. Renfro was a volatile and occasionally brilliant actor (see: Bully).

I think the real question is a public death versus a private one. A young man dying from a (probable) drug overdose is not a rare story. But because someone was of note, because someone got national attention, we find greater sadness in it.

I think this speaks to the (yes, I'm going to say it) important and redemptive nature of celebrity. We find things on the (inter)national stage reflected back upon us.

Bhutto's death saddens us so that all political deaths can, Renfro's death serves to illuminate the insidious drugs problems this broken bit of land faces daily.

Is there sensationalism and hyperbole involved? To be sure. But to say we shouldn't care about the death of a person we haven't thought of is, I think, dangerously isolationist, and a remote version of humanity.

I never thought of, or knew, Justin nor do I think often of JFK.

But still I mourn them, for what they stood for and for what they didn't. For whatever slip of humanity drained from the Earth when they went.

Maybe it's silly to think anything of what we say matters, but... maybe it's not. We are, after all, the ones left to deal with it, whether big or small, warranted or not. Thoughts go out to those gone, and to those still around. I'm just exhausted by the fact that the mystery off all of this just gets more and more complex as the years tumble on.


Conbon said...

This is neither here nor there, but if you were watching the History Channel this weekend, you would know that we will all be joining Heath very soon, due to either moving black hole, gamma rays, malicious computers, or supervolcano. C'est la vie!

LolCait said...


I'm betting on malicious computers. 'Bout three quarters of the way there already.

conbon said...

@lolcait: Ok now I'm scared.

CodePink said...

supervolcano was an AWESOME movie on television!

Conbon said...

Did you kill me? I need a new home!