“there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.”

22 Jan

I open my reader and see that Heath Ledger is dead. I read the details-it sounds like a suicide attempt. I feel many things-he’s younger than me-he has a child-he’s an incredible actor-what went wrong-why is he dead-if he did kill himself, why?-my daughter is only a few months older than his, and she’s now without a father.

They say we eat our young. But anymore, it feels like we eat our idols-the people we place above us. If they get too high, or too human, we consume them. We fixate on them, arrange them just so. If their hips get too broad, or their hairlines too high, we cast stones, we mock, we laugh.

How we laugh.

When is it enough? When are we satisfied? When do we understand that no matter how much money you give, we cannot own a person, not their image, or their movements. No matter how well paid they are, do they not deserve their humanity? Or is this something they must sacrifice for all of us, for our amusement? Are you amused? There’s a little girl somewhere who will only know her father in movies and soundbites-are you amused?

If Ledger took his own life-a seemingly inexplicable act to someone like me who really doesn’t follow the lives of celebrities-if he swallowed a handful of pills and went to sleep, how culpable is the viewing public? How much responsibility should the end user pay? If fame, and fortune, and a life I cannot even imagine is too much for a person, for people, when do we stop, really stop, and change the way lives are lived, change our expectations of what it means to be a celebrity, what it means to be responsible in front of millions, a face that’s known? When do we, the 99% who will never make that kind of money stop reveling in the divorces and the breakdowns and the naked and shaved women who parade in front of us each day?

Why are we unable to allow celebrity their basic humanity-privacy? When did we start to think money was a fair tradeoff for a life lived behind shutters?


I’m not just all “wordy” about Heath. One of my favorite movies “10 things I hate about you.” contained him in all his young glory, and I enjoy his performance everytime. I loved his acting in Brokeback, and I am so very much looking forward to the newest Batman, where he is (was) Joker-the trailer made it look awesome. It saddens me to know that we’ll never get another movie from him. It saddens me to know that even with ‘everything’ shit like this happens.

The fact that I’m surprised anymore is what really gets me.

7 Responses to ““there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.””

  1. Kelly O January 22, 2008 at 8:26 pm #

    I read that it was an overdose, and my first thought was “how selfish.” Then I read the details and thought “how sad.” I fucking hate Hollywood and everything we do to and for celebrities.

  2. Judy January 22, 2008 at 9:48 pm #

    I was absolutely shocked when I read this news, and it makes me so very sad. So young, so handsome, so good at what he does (did).

    Was it the celebrity that did it? Was there more?

    You know, the saddest people I personally know are those who have the most money. One of my husband’s friends is worth about $40 million (mor by now, I’m sure, the way money multiplies), is from a family most of us have heard of, has multiple published books of poetry, has seen the whole world and is now bored by it, and can’t get up the desire to leave his apartment. He drinks multiple bottles of vodka daily, and I don’t know how he has lived this long.

    Maybe the curse is money, and the expectation that being able to buy everything you want will make you happy, and when you can’t do that anymore, not knowing what will.

    Whatever the cause, the reasons, it’s all too sad. I keep seeing his face and thinking, WHY? His poor little girl.

  3. Marcela January 23, 2008 at 7:57 am #

    I’m still in shock. I can’t believe it yet.
    He seemed to live out of the limelight that comes with hollywood, he seemed to live a normal life, running errands in local shops like the rest of us. He seemed grounded and rooted in family and parenthood.
    God knows what really happened.

    I’m just sick thinking of the “circus” the media will make of this.
    For his daughter’s sake, I hope they give him the respect he earned among us.

    I too am a big fan of 10 things I hate about you… that scene with him singing on the stands when she’s playing soccer, I love that, it makes me feel good no matter what.
    I’ll miss the great actor in him.
    But I’m certain that little girl will miss the great father in him more than we’ll ever know.

  4. thordora January 23, 2008 at 8:01 am #

    A disclaimer-I have no idea if this was suicide-but I can’t help but wonder when stuff like this happens how much celebrity plays a hand in it.

  5. daisybones January 23, 2008 at 10:35 am #

    My thoughts exactly, except for never seeing “10 Things” before. Tried to call my Bu; don’t think he knows. Heath is one of his favorite actors.

    Celebrity cult is so fucking disturbing. So, so, strange. I’ll feel better if this was a freak accident or accidental OD. I’m just still shocked- just found out an hour ago when I dropped the baby off and her Papaw had on the TV.

  6. Hannah January 23, 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    I am taking this so hard, I was completely shocked when I heard the news last night. I too immediately thought of his ex-fiancee and daughter. How terribly sad for them, no matter how he died.

    And truly great talent does seem to come at a heavy price. I read (as I’m sure many of us have by now) that playing the Joker actually caused him a lot of difficulty – that it was hard to be a character utterly lacking in empathy for so long.

    This to me is a totally senseless tragedy. And I am almost surprised at how saddened I am by the loss.

  7. Jen January 26, 2008 at 7:56 pm #

    I was also really taken aback. Down here the coverage was freaking ridiculous too–everyone says NYC is better about its celebrities than LA but all I saw on the news was hordes of people outside of the building like it was the social event of the season and it made me so angry. It all makes me so angry; the cult of celebrity is absolutely disgusting. A week and a half’s worth of network tv in the hospital was a real eye-opener as to how many people really seem to think what famous people do and how they live is their business.

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