Tuesday, January 22, 2008

For Post-Academic: Heath Ledger

If you click TMZ every five minutes (not that anyone would do such a thing), you get a new post each time: he was naked on the floor, no he wasn't, Michelle Williams is devastated, and, oh, a little Britney for the purposes of distraction.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking River Phoenix: shocking sudden death of popular young talent. But the difference is the media cycle, which is now minutes, not days. With River Phoenix, the paper said he died and nobody knew what happened. And then a day or so later, it was an overdose. A few more days and we learned that the vegetarian poster boy was in fact something of a junkie. This time it's minute by minute: he was in Mary Kate Olsen's apartment, no he wasn't.

Who knows whether Heath Ledger's death was an accident, suicide, signal of drug problem, complications of pneumonia...though presumably soon enough we'll all know (top story on CNN and NY Times) (does this really matter more than the American soldiers and Iraqi civilians who died today? I still force myself to read the names, every single one, each time I see the list of this week's dead).

A young actor's death, a young father's death: tragic, yet also, at this point, banal. Our obsessions (corporate push/personal pull): pathetic.


Linda said...

I, too, thought of the River Phoenix comparison and how different coverage -- the immediacy, the voracious appetite -- is today.

I don't live in the U.S., but I read the names and aim to watch every ramp ceremony from Afghanistan when Canada's soldiers are sent home in coffins.

(I enjoy your blog.)

Kathy said...

I remember living in Berkeley at the time River Phoenix died and thought of that today too when the news of Heath Ledger's death showed up on my blackberry.

postacademic said...

I got distracted by the 19 minute Amy Winehouse smoking crack / snorting ecstasy and coke video. This is why we all need to go on media "cleanses" at times...