Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm Not There


M-H said...

Lovely pic. So, so sad.

Mindy said...

Much too young, however it happened.

mummified said...

a great shame. a very talented guy.

Cast Iron Balcony said...

Girlchild was crying in the car yesterday as JJJ played the Powderfinger track from Two Hands in his memory.

Anonymous said...

I must have something wrong with me - it seems the male Princess Di has died, and I'm not gnashing my teeth and wailing with despair enough.

Pavlov's Cat said...

And you felt compelled to share that, anonymously, here?


Long an interested amateur in respect of psychoanalysis, I have become intrigued (I think the blogospheric response to the death of Steve Irwin is what sparked this) by this apparent compulsion people have to express their indifference to, and lack of interest in, a high-profile death. And it's often in quite offensive terms, viciously trashing the newly dead. Anonymous's comment is quite mild, indeed almost positive, in comparison with the backlash tsunami of badly spelled bile that I expect to wash over the blogosphere in the next week or two, in reaction to an overkill of media rubbish about Ledger and his death. (Indeed, it began in yesterday's email.)

It's not that I don't understand the indifference; I felt it when Michael Hutchence died (I was much more upset about the death of Paula Yates, several of whose witty, charming columns I'd read in waiting-room mags).

But I'd never have dreamed of publicly trashing the guy and I get the intensity of the public sadness then and now, not least because, to my own astonishment, Ledger's death has really upset me -- and I've only ever seen him in the one movie and found his appearance and demeanour in interviews very hard to take, not so much because he inevitably dressed like a stage hobo and was openly rude, more because he usually looked, spoke and behaved like a feral child on speed and was clearly in some sort of trouble.

Again, psychoanalysis is a help here. A society projects its ideals onto its gifted, beautiful and/or charismatic high-profile figures (I'd argue that Ledger, if not Diana, was all three, at least in his work), and there's a sort of psychic anarchy and violence in the air when those figures are destroyed. Which probably explains the hostile backlashes as well.

Anonymous said...

Whoa there, ma'am - was not aware (nor intending) that I was trashing the death of young Mr Ledger (then again, I'd always thought of him as just some actor, not a gifted, beautiful and/or charismatic high-profile figure)...just somewhat intrigued by the reaction from the public. There's an article in today's Crikey, "Di, Heath and the comfort of mourning strangers" that puts it better than I could.

And there was no particular cimpulsion to put it on your blog specifically, but it came after having ploughed through megabytes of coverage elsewhere; I'll attempt to display more restraint next time.

(and "anonymous" is hardly any more anonymous than "m-h", "mummified" or "cast iron balcony", surely?)

Anonymous said...

If anything, I thought your blog entry about it was nicely understated...I had just come from reading the glurge on and it's possible my eyes hadn't returned to their proper position after rolling back.

tigtog said...

"Anonymous", at least if you choose a consistent pseudonym there is a continuity between your comments and they can be distinguished from other anonymous commentors. It gets confusing when there's multiple anons posting.

Besides, although you may not know the names behind the net-nyms here, several of us actually do know each other's real names and have even met face to face.

PC, I haven't felt any special sadness for Ledger beyond the usual sense of "oh, what a pity", and I haven't been following the media coverage that much. But I'm certainly not failing to appreciate how others might find his death hitting a particular chord of grief. I too thought there was something damaged about him in interviews, and that he used it very effectively as an actor, and it meant that I wasn't especially surprised to learn of his death at a young age.

Pavlov's Cat said...

1) Apologies to anyone who found this post incomprehensible because the picture disappeared, dog knows why. I have now replaced it, apparently successfully.

2) Thanks Tigtog, that's some of what I would have said. Excellent point about him using the damage in his work. I've talked to a friend about this and come to the conclusion that chords are indeed being struck -- I've been to the funerals of two 26 year old suicides, both male, and they were beyond horrendous. I think my firend R is correct in her guess that Ledger like so many men of his age had not so much done himself in but rather put himself in the way of death one too many times.

3) Now then, anon. Okay, so the Blogger platform is responsible for some of this as it's configured to make as many people join as possible and therefore gives limited options for commenting. However, the new imporved version has a 'Nickname' field in which people should feel free to put their real names or a link to their sites. Given that I dislike anonymous comments, I should have disabled the anonymous option now that the Nickname one is available.

m-h, mummified, mindy and cast iron balcony are all more or less regular readers and/or commenters here. The first three all provided links to their own sites, where one can find out more about them (like, wheher to take them seriously or not; answer, in all three cases, yes) and cast iron balcony knows I know who she is and what her issues are with Blogger; there is a link to her blog on my blogroll.

Re your comment: yes, I think to some extent in my own comment here, my eyes were rolling back at all the eyes rolling back. Most of it was general and not aimed specifically at you, and I tried to make a few rhetorical gestures to that effect. Seriously I am more interested in the psychopathology of public reactions to Ledger's death, and other selected celebrity demises, than I am in being rude, so I apologise if my response was a bit snappy. You weren't responsible for most of my annoyance, any more that I was responsible for the sea of media sludge and fan outpourings you had apparently just waded through.

Bernice said...

Have to admit I know very little about the fellow, but I was struck by the constant theme of much of the MSM's reportage that he hated the celebrity hunt that had become his lot, & seemed less able than most actors in his position to being able to tolerate it or deal with it.
It was known he hated the intrusion so why then does anyone think its OK to hover over his home in a chopper hoping to get a photo? Does this happen to Cate Blanchet or Toni Collette or Judy Davis? I suspect the media hounded the poor bugger because he gave them good copy when he reacted. Goading someone is now the role of media? How very adult.

Anonymous said...

EC sez...

"Seriously I am more interested in the psychopathology of public reactions to Ledger's death, and other selected celebrity demises,..."

PC, there's some serious psychopathology on offer in link below.

Heath Ledger was an outspoken critic of BushCo's invasion and occupation of Iraq. He also had the temerity to portray a homosexual as a human being while dressed as Marlboro Man. Hawks and homophobes hated Heath with a vengeance, as Gibson's cowardly diatribe demonstrates.

Pavlov's Cat said...

'There's some serious psychopathology on offer ...'

I'll say. The hair alone.

kate said...

It is sad that Heath Ledger has died you, it's sad for most of us in a fleeting 'so I wont be seeing anymore of his films' or 'isn't it awful what can happen to people' kinda way. Genuine, but fleeting sadness. We all got on with our day after we'd heard. It's far more significant for his family and his genuine friends, and if those of us in the former category claim the 'status' of the latter, well that's pretty bloody rude. Every bit as rude as the people who slag off the recently departed. I'm not talking about a few private tears, I'm getting at the very public and intrusive folk. People who feel they have a right to attend a public funeral, or to hang around outside a family home. The sort of people a family becomes obliged to thank.

After Steve Irwin died I wondered at the people so eager to perform their grief they'd have pushed his widow and children out of the way to get a front row seat at the funeral. It strikes me as a very strange phenomena in a time where people shudder at the idea of meeting their neighbours, let alone attending a funeral for one.

Cast Iron Balcony said...

Julie Rigg said some lovely words about why we feel sad about people like Ledger, on the Movie show yesterday (ABC Radio National). There's probably a podcast available. In a nutshell: it is the job of people like him to get us to identify and feel empathy with them (not so much if they're a screen villain or dalek, I suppose, but Ennis del mar, yes.) So we do feel genuine sadness at their demise because they have set up some kind of connection, however remote.

An interview with him followed, and I have to say, he really impressed. I didn't get the "damaged" impression, but then, it was audio only, of course.

(And, Girlchild is only 16, of course!)

Kathleen said...

Or just: "I am a human being, so nothing human is alien to me"?

M-H said...

Helen, I agree with this. I really connected with Ennis del Mar as portrayed by Heath. I came out of a marriage into a lesbian relationship in my 30s, so I guess I am always interested in the ways that people write and act this experience. I've seen a couple of interviews with him (eg Margaret Pomeranz) but that's all I know of the actor. But his whole being was Ennis in BM, and, although it wasn't my story both he and Jake were characters I deeply connected with.

I saw Atonement last week, and one of my thoughts about it was (like BM) that it confirmed yet again how fiction can connect you with the reality of experience (in that case WWII and esp Dunkirk).

kate said...

"I am a human being, so nothing human is alien to me"

Kathleen, I'd like to think that was the case, but I'm inclined to think it isn't. I suspect it has more to do with feeling like we know/knew him (and other celebrities) because strangers and non-famous people die in difficult/tragic/mysterious circumstances all the time and mostly the general public don't care.

It irks me because we live in a community where a funeral procession of an Anon is likely to get beeped to hurry up. There was a lot of talk a couple of weeks ago about a man found dead in his flat after a year, everyone thought it very sad, but I don't think there was any rush on meeting the neighbours and exchanging spare keys.

Meredith said...

It's a horrible loss that I've been personally distressed by. I too loved him in Brokeback Mountain and felt a real connection.

But the reason I'm writing is that I think that too many people are assuming that Ledger's death was suicide. There is nothing yet to indicate this and he may well have died of natural causes or a bad mix of prescription drugs. It is not unheard of. And why the diagnosis of him as "damaged"? I watched him in several interviews over the years and he just seemed rude & moody & arrogant in that way that the incredibly talented (especially if they're still young) can be.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Meredith, I agree absolutely about accidental death. Apart from anything else, people planning to kill themselves don't usually do it when they're expecting visitors.

As for 'damaged' -- it wasn't just the common or garden surliness (I don't think Russell Crowe is damaged, for example) that I meant; I guess it depends which interviews one has seen, but I'm going on a couple I've seen where he was actually twitching and jerking, and doing some very strange dragging and pulling at his face. I'd always just assumed it was some variation on the amphetamine theme until a friend I was talking to reported that her husband, a psychologist, had said after watching one of those interviews that he thought Ledger might actually have some sort of disorder.

Meredith said...

Thanks for clarifying PC - I certainly didn't see the interview you describe.

Dysthymiac said...

"her husband, a psychologist, had said after watching one of those interviews that he thought Ledger might actually have some sort of disorder"

Having a personality disorder certainly does not disqualify anybody from becoming rich and famous, and the R&F's have them at the same rate as we anons do.
(Ted Turner, Rene Rivkin, Vivien Leigh, Woody Allen*)
None of the 4 ex-wives of the genius Dudley Moore ever managed to get him diagnosed, but it was confirmed after his death that his poor behaviour was beyond his control.
My conclusion of Ledger's death is that it was not suicide, but simply too many pills.

* just reading a Mia Farrow autobiog and her descriptions of Woody's irrational behaviour are an eye-opener.