I woke up this morning, hoping that I'd feel better but I didn't. Last night was painful in ways that surprised me. Joe wrote a spur of the moment piece I really related to which helped me feel not so alone in how I was reacting. Most people get inordinately attached to a celebrity or four (or 237) in the course of living their lives. It's a media saturated voyeuristic age and we are essentially encouraged from all sides to be interested in the lives of beautiful strangers. And the movies have always served as an enticing proxy, a heightened version of real life; Experience this story. Feel this catharsis. Relate to this performance.
As sad as I am from the news of Heath Ledger's death, I'm reminded of a bitter truth that the performance artists Kiki & Herb use in their stage show
Ladies and Gentlemen, people die. That's all you need to know.Like a lot of black comedy, it's only funny because it's brutal. It stings. It's an unavoidable that we pretend we can avoid. Famous people die all the time. Excuse the inappropriate tacky media reference but it's like those stupid paparazzi pages of celebrities doing mundane tasks "Celebrities: They're just like us!"
Grief for a stranger --even one you are very fond of --is different than grief for someone we know deeply. But it still hurts. It's like a miniature more fleeting abstraction of the real deal (which hurts immensely and can last for you don't wanna know how long --if you haven't experienced it yet. If you have you'll know how relentless it can be). But I'm straying from the topic of Heath now...
It comes to this: I didn't realize that I was as attached to Heath Ledger as I was. But I understood this morning that it all goes back to Brokeback Mountain . Something about that movie settled deep inside me. I feel protective towards all involved. It must be part of the reason that I keep writing about Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. It's why I feel all warm inside when I see Ang Lee smile. It's why I perked up so much when Michelle Williams wafted into frame in I'm Not There looking and feeling nothing like Alma Del Mar. It's why.
I had to move right on last night (had a work deadline) and it wasn't easy. I'll have to move on here today (awards season, new movies, etc). We'll all have to. But I expect this sense of loss will linger. He truly was an enormously promising rising star. And for little Matilda, Michelle, Heath's family, Jake Gyllenhaal (and Heath's other friends, with whom we are less familiar)... the hurt for them will be real and in no way miniature or abstract. My heart goes out to them.
To read earlier pieces on Heath or Brokeback Mountain or any topic, remember you can always click on the labels at the end of any post*