I was sad to hear of Heath Ledger’s passing in New York, apparently from some kind of drug overdose. I remember first seeing him in one of my favorite movies, 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. I thought there was something undeniably charismatic about him, crazy hair notwithstanding. With his OSCAR-nominated appearance in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, he seemed on his way to being one of the best actors of his generation.
Much like River Phoenix seemed destined for such acclaim. Or John Belushi. Or so many other young stars that seem to lose their way when stardom calls.
You ask yourself how it happened? What led them on such a path? Why are drugs such a seemingly inherent part of the Hollywood landscape? Is it that Hollywood glorifies such values?
Don’t get me wrong, I love “Hollywood”. Movies. Television. I am a media junkie and if I could, I’d probably keep the TV going 24/7 with one thing or another. When I was growing up, the TV was never off, leading my then boyfriend/now hubby to joke, “Doesn’t your family know where the off button is?”
The reality of it was, TV was how we learned American culture. Heck, it’s how I learned English. For my grandparents, the Spanish-speaking stations where a familiar oasis in our predominantly English-only neighborhood.
So I watch a lot. Which means that I oftentimes see depictions of drugs and the drug culture that either make it seem as if (1) everyone is doing them or (2) its cool and sexy. Then there are the tabloids and magazines carrying stories about the wild celebrity brats and their partying lifestyles. Underage drinking, drugs and carousing.
In the old days Hollywood contracts used to have morals clauses because Hollywood understood that what the stars did and what they put up on the screen had an influence on people. They also understood that they needed some way to keep their stars on the straight and narrow path, although that often failed even back then.
Call me old fashioned, but I guess it’s because I wish there was a way to stop this kind of heartbreak from happening. To keep our up and coming stars healthy and productive. To keep them alive.
Let me end by offering my heartfelt Condolences to Mr. Ledger’s family and friends. I wish he could have been with you for a much longer time.