Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh My God.

Heath Ledger. Shit, you guys.




I am so unbelievably sad.

So, yeah, I should be able to say something intelligent or emotionally appropriate about this, but I'm finding it very hard. I don't get emotional at celebrity deaths. I didn't know these people. In the case of a suicide or an overdose, I clearly knew them even less than my through-the-looking-glass media relationship with them led me to believe. Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Princess Diana...their deaths all made me sad, but in an intellectual way. I regretted their passing away. I would miss the further contributions to art and society that they would no longer be able to make. This one is different. I feel this one in my gut.

I've said to a couple people in this last hectic hour as emails and instant messages have flown around that I feel like this may have been how I would've felt after River Phoenix died, had I been old enough to appreciate it. He was another one with boatloads of potential, talent, youth, and beauty all swallowed up by this great indescribable thing we may never be able to wrap our heads around. Phoenix filled that indescribable with drugs and booze. Sounds like Heath gave into it entirely. I can't pretend to know what that's all about, but he died in New York. All alone in the middle of this giant city. I'd be lying if I said I couldn't wrap my head around that.

Some further, totally unformed, not at all profound thoughts about this:

-- Can we maybe not go overboard with the Mary-Kate "angle" on this? My first reaction was "WTF" too, but...perspective, here. If it's even true (I'm hearing now that it's not).

-- I keep thinking of Candy, the last movie I saw him in, and how he made this totally messed up, drug addicted screwup of a man into also the most loveable, sweethearted guy you ever saw. At the time, I thought it was a fantastic branching out from the taciturn Ennis Del Mar and signaled a career that was going places. I'd like to see that movie again soon, but it's gonna suck.

-- Speaking with Sarah, she reminded me that, as a onetime Brooklynite (before he and Michelle Williams split up), he was somewhat "one of us." I added that, lame as it may sound, after Brokeback, he was one of us too.

-- All the usual platitudes apply here: how much your heart goes out to his family, especially his daughter. How the loss of a young artist pales in comparison to the loss of a young man (28!) who was a father and son and friend. I didn't know him as a father, son, or friend. He was a guy who helped tell me stories on a screen. He ended up telling me a whole lot of stories that made me happy, though, and I'm sad that he won't be able to tell me any more.

10 comments:

Kel said...

There are no fucking words for how incredibly and UNBELIEVABLY sad this makes me.

The Bloody Munchkin said...

Dude, seriously. I'm still totally dumbstruck. I just want to crawl up into a little ball and pretend it hasn't happened. So sad.

Michiewah said...

I came home and was cruising online until I came upon this story on the Daily News. I am speechless. Whatever may have been the reasons, it's awful to see such a talented actor die so young.

The Bloody Munchkin said...

Joe, I just read your write up (wasn't there the first time) and you adeptly voiced everything I've been feeling about this. I felt that this definately compared to River Phoenix for precisely the same reasons, although when River died, I was pretty much consumed with him, so River was ten times worse. But still.

Julia said...

I feel exactly the same way- I was too young to be really plugged in when River Phoenix died, but this is just like a punch to the gut.

I keep flashing back to seeing Brokeback Mountain for the first time, and how amazing he was as Ennis. All that talent and promise...what a horrible loss for all of us.

JA said...

Really beautifully said, Joe.

jessica said...

I once knew a man who killed himself, leaving his baby daughter behind. I feel now, as I did then, extreme sadness and regret for the little girl who lost her daddy and will miss him most of all. Find peace, dear Matilda. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Woodstock said...

somehow i'm really thankful joe, for this piece of yours. i think it finally made me understand some of my feelings.

Judi said...

It really is weird (I don't mean that lightly), how much his death seems to be affecting people. I cry at anything and everything, but even people who aren't like that seem to be really SAD about Heath Ledger. And I understand it, but it's hard to voice. You did a great job with the part about missing his stories. Thank you. Not that many people have written anything sensitive about this yet. I needed to read this. Even though now I'm really sad again.

Joe Reid said...

Thanks for the comments, you guys. I felt weird writing that whole thing so soon after it happened, but I thought if I sat on it, I'd forget my words, as imperfect as I felt (and still feel) they were.