Thoughtful Thursday – The Values Hollywood Glorifies

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.

8 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday – The Values Hollywood Glorifies”

  1. I was in college when the whole “drug culture” thing hit really hard.
    Never saw the need for it, myself, but I was never one to go along with the crowd.
    However, I do think that Heath’s death was an accident. There may have been some undiagnosed heart trouble…he took some sleeping pills and something snapped inside. Happens all the time. I would like to believe that more than that he deliberately overdosed. All that potential…gone in an instant. Sigh.

  2. You are correct that if it was related to his problems sleeping, I should not associate it with the “drug culture”. There have been rumors about this and that his role in Batman deeply troubled him.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. I wonder about that and yet as writers, we go into multiple heads all the time. It’s the only way to truly make the character live. Of course, look at how many great writers and poets die young.

    I once took a class in college on poetry and the final exam was a report on a famous poet. I did Sylvia Plath — stuck her head in an oven if I recall correctly. In fact, nearly everyone of the poets we had chosen had either killed themselves outright or led self-destructive lives.

    So maybe it’s just the creative bent in general? Still, truly sad.

  4. I’m still in a bit of shock over it.

    Though there’s nothing conclusive yet, the articles I’ve read seem to suggest that he died from an OD on prescription sleeping medication, and that he had been having extreme insomnia for several months. People who are deprived of sleep for long enough do things they might not otherwise do.

    I wouldn’t equate it with the “drug culture” because that insinuates that Ledger was abusing the medication instead of taking it for a legitimate purpose. Sure, there have been enough illegal drug related deaths in the Hollywood community, but at least what I’ve read seems to indicate this was most likely an overdose by a man desperate for sleep.

  5. How tragic! Yet we will see this happen
    again! A profession that calls for persons
    to “fragment” their lives, living for times
    as other personalities. Could this be a
    part of the situation? Suppose you have
    some sort of underlying problem, could
    this exacerbate that uncertainty? My
    sincerest condolences are extended to
    Mr. Ledger’s family and friends.

    Pat Cochran

  6. It’s so sad. He was so young and had so much to live for. We do have a tendency to believe — not us — but the reality of it is, tomorrow is promised to no one, right? Isn’t that the old saying?

  7. It is such a shame. People continue to believe that it could never happen to them and continue to deny the fact that they’re mortal.

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