*Disclaimer* This post went live while I was in the middle of editing it and because WordPress and I are sworn enemies, I can’t get it down. I’m taking it as a sign that you will appreciate my unfiltered words. Sigh.
Cory Monteith. Whitney Houston. Michael Jackson. Brittany Murphy. Amy Winehouse. Heath Ledger. Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Robin Williams.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
When I read the news of Cory Monteith’s death, I was heartbroken. I loved his character on Glee, he was a fellow British Columbian and I felt a (lame) sense of connection with him because we grew up not too far from each other and he was only a year younger than I was. I knew immediately that his death would have to do with depression or drugs, and I told myself if it were either of them, I would write a scathing post about the effects of our depraved society on people who rise into the spotlight. I couldn’t find the words though. I didn’t have a solution to the problem. All I can do is jam my finger into the bruise that this issue is, proving that there is in fact something wrong, but not doing anything to fix it. So I put it off.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman died in February of this year, once again, drugs were the culprit. The righteous anger welled up inside me again and I wanted to implore the world on behalf of the celebrities, and then I came across this blog by creative director Blaine Hogan and he summed up my feelings in one paragraph:
“And so here is my question: to my actor friends, to the Screen Actors Guild, to Actors Equity, to all the unions representing directors, agents, casting directors, and writers, to every audience, and to all who care for artists in their lives, when will we start caring more for the souls of the artists than for the way our souls are enriched by their work?”
So I put the post off again.
Last week, Robin Williams committed suicide in his own home after years of struggling with depression. Robin. Freaking. Williams. The man of a thousand voices, who was probably one of the funniest guys to ever walk the planet. His suicide stopped me in tracks, it was literally hard to breathe for a minute. It was the last straw for me. My feelings, my words will make no difference in the world. I will not be able to change society or the way we view celebrities, but at least I will have said my piece.
I have to admit that when I found out (prior to his death) that Monteith was from B.C., I Googled him and read his page on Wikipedia. I felt a sense of comradery and sent him a tweet as a fellow Canadian (he never responded). I went a little fangirl on him in spite of my own aversion to that kind of behavior.The internet makes it so easy for us to know whatever we want to know about our favorite celebrities, including when their last trip to rehab was, and the tabloids with their exaggerated stories and flat out lies don’t help things at all.
Now I have to stop here and say, for the record, that I know stardom and fandom isn’t the root cause of the issues we see in Hollywood today. I know that people are broken as children and young adults and grow up trying to hold all the pieces together. But think about this: Do you know someone who struggles with an addiction? With depression or anxiety? Insecurity? A mood disorder? How do they react to normal, every day life? Now imagine them in spotlight, their face plastered on magazines across the country, being hounded by fans and paparazzi every time they walk out the door. Living life as a normal every day person is hard enough without the insane amount of attention that celebrities get.
Lindsay Lohan. Miley Cyrus. Owen Wilson. Robert Downey Jr. Amanda Bynes. Justin Beiber. Charlie Sheen. Chris Brown. Paris Hilton. All of the Kardashians.
Why are the Kardashians even famous? I asked that question on Facebook last year. Most people thought it was because of the O.J. Simpson trial, but believe it or not, it was because of a sex-tape, okay, and probably a little bit of the O.J. Simpson trial. But seriously. The Kardashians are on the map because of a sex-tape and we’re all better for it. Wait. Back up. No. No. No. A few months ago I saw something about one of the youngest daughters in my Facebook trending news, and for some reason I can’t remember, I clicked on it and ended up seeing a picture of the barely eighteen year old on a runway for a fashion show, wearing a sheer top with nothing underneath. I mean nothing. I confess, I straight up judged her mother. But that’s another post, and it’s one I just won’t write. She’s eighteen and now her breasts are all over the internet!!!
All of this attention, all of our star-crazed googling and stalking and tweeting is contributing to the death of our society, figuratively and literally. Why in the world do I care about what the Kardashians are up to? Why in the world does it matter to me that Lindsay Lohan has been arrested again? That Justin Beiber acted like a complete jackass in his deposition? Why are we (as a whole) so obsessed with these people who are just like us?
Obviously I can’t speak to the root issues that anyone struggles with in their life, but I can speak to the things that aggravate them: Paparazzi, you are aggravating them! Perez Hilton, you are aggravating them! Reality TV producers . . . don’t even get me started! Teen Mom? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? <— again, another blog post.
I know. I’m ranting, but I warned you. I have no solution, just a lot of pent up frustration that we (as a whole) continue to get sucked into the glitz and glamour that seems to exude from Hollywood, when if you look *just* a little bit deeper, you’ll see that the pressure that is on our favorite celebrities is driving them actually crazy.
Remember when Lindsay Lohan was that sweet girl who pulled off recreating the family Classic “The Parent Trap” so brilliantly? She’s lost her ever loving mind and taken her parents down with her! To be fair, it might be the other way around, but still! Did rising to stardom at such a young and impressionable age do her any good? And what do you think it does to a person to have every single mistake she’s ever made paraded in front of the world like a circus act? Gossiped about on every morning radio and talk show in North America? I could show you, but I think that would be hypocritical, and I’m sure, unless your my mom (sorry, mom), you know what I’m talking about here.
I remember listening to the radio one morning and hearing about Prince Harry smoking pot in his hotel room in Vegas. I almost stopped the car. Why do we care? Why do we need to know? WHY WHY WHY? So what if he smoked pot! It doesn’t affect my life in the least. Now, it might affect the Queen’s life, and maybe some members of parliament in England, but Come. On. Why is this news?
I honestly don’t know what the allure is, and I’ve already admitted that I have been victim to it before, even recently. But this last one, this thing with Robin Williams killing himself, I can’t take it anymore. They’re people. They have problems just like we do. Many of them are just as talented as people that you know for real right now. The difference is being in the right place at the right time, or maybe the fight to be recognized. I don’t know. But seriously . . . my heart is broken for the people whose lives are being pushed further and further into the darkest places because someone decided that the world needed to know about their every breathing moment on this planet. If I lived that life, I can’t imagine I’d want to breathe that much longer either. I can’t imagine I’d be able to make it through a day without a hit of something.
Did that shock you? Did you think believers were immune to these pressures? Ever heard of a guy name Ted Haggard? Michael English? Ray Boltz? Sandi Patti? The lists go on and on and on. Jesus can be our rock of salvation and our healer but only if we let Him! Plenty of the celebrity believers that have failed have now found their redemption, but what hope is there for those who don’t know Jesus or refuse to know Him?
You guys, I just can’t even wrap my mind around it all. Robbin. Freaking. Williams.
So in conclusion, I’m rephrasing Blaine Hogan’s question and asking it of you: To my friends, to strangers, to audiences, photographers, reporters, online personalities, radio and talk show hosts, when will we start caring about the souls of these artists rather than their mistakes and mug shots? Than what coffee they ordered this morning and if they wore skinny jeans or mom jeans? When will we step back and allow them to enjoy their newborns without waiting in line to hear which magazine they sold the pictures to, and for how much? Allow them their humanity rather than lifting them up to impossible god-like standards? When will we see look at them and see reflections of ourselves? Imperfect, frail, nervous, shy, depressed, scared, broken, healing, recovering, learning to breathe again individuals who just need to be.