Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Thursday Three

I'd be lying if I said I was a huge Heath Ledger fan, but the idea of someone so young and full of promise dying bothers me enormously. And since we live in a society that often appears to be driven by Hollywood, this story is simply everywhere. Of course, the fact that it was so unexpected just adds to the emotion. It has made me think about


Celebrity Deaths That Hit Home


I'm sure my shallowness will show here, too, but I don't remember any big political assassinations - they were before my time (or at least my memory). So, while I suppose you could make the argument that my choices are all fluff, I absolutely disagree. I was completely beside myself when all three of these very special people died.



#1. Diana, Princess of Wales. Might as well start out big. Like a good chunk of the world I spent a week in front of my television sobbing. It wasn't just that she was a princess, or beautiful, or the most photographed woman in history. It was the fact that even with all the adulation she was a human being with very human problems. And it was also, for me, a weird kind of alternate parallel.

We were born almost exactly two weeks apart. We were both the product of early divorces. We were both nail biters. We both bore sons. And other than those similarities not one thing was the same, except that I can immediately place what was going on in my life by simply referencing hers. I watched her wedding from a place in my life that was pure chaos. Her life began to (publicly) unravel right when mine started to stabilize. Her boys were teenagers when she died. I had just given birth to my third child. Her death devastated me. I have trouble even now just watching The Queen. And I still think there are some people (who shall remain nameless) who need to be slapped.




#2. John Lennon. I was in college and a friend called hysterical, saying that John Lennon had been shot. Pre-internet, we all turned on the radio to hear Imagine on half the stations in the free world. (The other half were playing Starting Over). I watched the candlelight vigils and listened to people singing outside the Dakota with tears running down my own face. It was awful.

I'd always been a Beatles fan and I'd always loved John. And George. I was never much of a Paul girl and I'm not even going to get into the Ringo argument. But John was cool. He was witty and opinionated and willing to stick up for his beliefs. I loved the post-Beatles work he had done and, being too young to really get the whole Yoko thing as it was happening, thought they had a wonderfully intense relationship.

I remember my barely reformed hippie Journalism professor coming to class sobbing and telling us all to expect a "rock and roll royalty funeral." But of course there wasn't one. That just wasn't what Lennon was about.




#3. Steve Irwin. Yes, the Crocodile Hunter. You have to remember that I have three boys, and I have spent an enormous part of my life living through their various phases. Some (Barney, Teletubbies and Power Rangers) are best forgotten as soon as possible. But others, like the Crocodile Hunter, I really enjoyed. He was so joyous in what he did that he was infectious. Yeah, he was kind of a hyperactive dork, but in an incredibly skillful way, he was able to take something totally foreign and make it accessible.

And of course, being an animal lover, his message of wildlife preservation was one I agreed with one hundred percent, even if it was easy for me to agree with - not having any crocodiles or pit vipers in my own backyard. The fact that he married an American woman who was just as accomplished and adventurous as he was made me very happy. And I totally credit him with giving me the courage to face up to my reptile fears, a feat that has made my last ten years much easier to deal with. We've had assorted lizards and geckos, although I still draw the line at snakes. Let's not take this tolerance thing too far, okay?

I think the world is a lot less enthusiastic without Steve Irwin.

25 comments:

Rose said...

Hey, I know I was surprised at how much it bothered me about Heath Ledger. I think because he's so young, this keeps happening, and he has a young daughter. But I remember exactly the moments I heard Lennon and Diana were dead. Steve Irwin not so much, but my youngest daughter and stepdaughter sure do. Also, what's the protocol on responding to comments? Do I answer your comment on my blog or do I come back to yours? I'm kinda clueless as to how some of this works. Thanks!

laurie said...

i like your last line, about the crocodile guy. i think you're absolutely right, and nicely said.

Kimberly said...

It's sobering to think about, and yet, how lovely that these muchly mourned people have left such an impact on the world, and a positive one at that?

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Rose - you can really do it either way. I usually answer comments on my blog, but of course that means that the person has to come back to read them. Some people do it by email. Everyone works it out differently, but this seems to work for me.

Either way, I'm glad you're here!

laurie - I miss the crocodile guy. Truly.

kimberly - It really is sobering. I mean, you know life is uncertain, but still...

Altaglow said...

RC,

All of the deaths you have mentioned have also hit me very hard. They were close enough that I felt like I knew them. I'm too old to be hanging on to icons but icons have that name for a reason.

Kaycie said...

I remember the night Diana died with eerie detail.

I remember the day John Lennon died in equal detail. I was an eighth grader and was wearing out my vinyl of "Double Fantasy".

The thing I remember about Steve Irwin dying, other than the horrible accident, is seeing his daughter on 'Ellen' a few months later and thinking how remarkable a child she is.

You named my first and second. I think my third would be Johnny Carson. I adored him.

ped crossing said...

I recall every detail about Diana's death, and exactly what I was doing when it was announced. I think in a way that I will probably never remember anyone else. That story is a blog in itself.

And I have to agree with Kaycie about Bindi, she is an amazing little girl. She absorbed so much of her dad's personality. I feel really bad for his son.

Corey~living and loving said...

I only really remember diana and Steve....but I'm like you.....untimely deaths bother me a great deal.

Laura McIntyre said...

Im always surprised when a celeb death upsets me, don't even know them right? I think in all the cases its the kids and the pain they will be feeling without there parent around

Flowerpot said...

I agree with all those three and over here the reaction to Diana dying was incredible.

Potty Mummy said...

RC, no comment on the first two, but the thought of Steve Irwin dying (or Steve-o as he is affectionately known by my oldest son) still brings tears to my eyes. And I still haven't been able to break the news to Boy #1.

PixelPi said...

I do very much remember John Kennedy's death and it still haunts me. I was upset by Steve Irwin's death, but more so by Diana and Mother Teresa's deaths.

Of course the kicker of our generation will always be 9/11, just as Pearl Harbor was for our parents. That still hurts so much I can't watch it on film. And when I watch older movies, the Twin Towers are always on the New York skyline. They pop right out at you.

Diana said...

I think I've only seen one Heath Ledger film, the "Taming of the Shrew" remake "10 Things I Hate About You", which is one of my favorite movies in a slightly 'guilty pleasure' way. I, too, am surprised at how sad I feel that he's dead. The death of Diana certainly hit me, not just because of the fact that she seemed a truly nice person in a not very nice world. We had the same name and both married a Charles and for a while both seemed happy and charmed. My life WAS happy and charmed, though, and hers was mostly show, but for a while, I felt that link when I was young and idealistic. Just so sad.

Jen said...

I was too young really to remember when Lennon was killed, but I remember my mom crying. When Diana died, I was babysitting for a friend, and spent the whole night watching tv. When Steve Irwin died, I got to talk about it on the radio.

I would add Kurt Cobain, although I was not a huge Nirvana fan. He was sort of the Lennon of my generation.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I feel sad for anyone,celebrity or not,dying young. Kurt Cobain is who came to my mind when I heard about Heath Ledger. As for your three, well, I'm with you on two and three,especially two. And yes, I sobbed my eyes out during Diana's funeral. I think it was watching those two young boys walking behind their mother's coffin. Still gets me.

Lil Mouse said...

umm i think lennon died i was too young to know of but diana and mother teresa were in the same week and i remember just stopping and staying still and holding my breath. how awful for her kids.. jeez... some things you just dont forget and yes, irwin makes me sick. how awful for his family...

Amy said...

Weird, isn't it? I never paid any attention to Princess Diana, never understood why anyone in America would. But when she died it hit me so hard, probably because she was so young, had young kids, and seemed to be getting her life together. It was very sad.

Another that really hit me was John Ritter. I read everything I could find, watched every snippet on television, and bawled for several days. How ridiculous.

That's it for me, I think. But Steve Irwin died on my daughter's birthday, and she was very, very upset. It was not a nice start to her day.

Lil Mouse said...

i tagged you for a meme over at the mouse house!

aims said...

Here I sit - crying away - just reading this.

I bawled over Diana and Steve and Heath. John Candy was another and Peter Sellers.

Media makes these people so much a part of our lives that we feel we know them. Anyone dying 'before their time' hits me hard.

Akelamalu said...

It was like losing a close relative to a lot of people in England when Diana died. Most of us haven't forgiven Charles and the rest of the family for the way they treated her and still think there was a conspiracy. As for Camilla - she's a whore!

I was 14 when the Beatles came on the scene so I live the mania. John's death was just heartbreaking.

I never really watched Steve Irwin so it didn't affect me apart from feeling terribly sorry for his family.

Stacie said...

I watched Diana coverage and the Steve Irwin coverage. I also was sad about Kurt Cobain (fan here), but not totally surprised because of the topics of his songs. I remember when Elvis died (I was pretty little, but remember it clearly). The next door neighbor came over in tears to talk to my mom about it. In California, it was big news when Selena was killed and I remember where I was when I heard that, too.

Tragic. Every one of them, and so many more...

Sweet Irene said...

The three deaths you describe didn't affect me as much as Bobbie Kennedy's death did when I was thirteen years old. I was in high school in the Netherlands at the time and all the students and the staff were greatly affected by his death. We actually stood and mourned on the grounds of the school when the news came that he had died. He was such an icon to us.

The other deaths are very sad also, but did not have that same impact on me. Maybe because I was older and more cynical about life and the glory and definition of "famous" people.

Heath Ledger means very little to me, yet it is sad that such a young person is dead, as it is sad to see anyone die when they are still full of life and promise.

Remember when Martin Luther King died? Doesn't anyone remember that and what an impact that made? There was a man who, like Bobbie Kennedy, could have made a real difference in the world. Such people I mourn.

Eileen said...

This bothered me a lot, as did the other 3 you mentioned. So young, so sad. I just keep thinking in my head....if only....

Dumdad said...

Diana and John sent, of course, huge shockwaves around the world. And they were British so it was that much closer to home for me.

Steve Irwin was a family favourite and we all loved his infectious enthusiasm and love of life. Yes, he was a bit of a dork but he knew that and it didn't bother him; and it didn't bother us.

Terribly sad for his family and his fans.

Lisa said...

Sniffle. :o(