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Writer's Block: Untimely Passing

RIP John Lennon. The list of sudden and unexpected celebrity deaths is long—Princess Di, Heath Ledger, Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe, and many more. Which one affected you the most on an emotional level?

Harvey Milk, gay supervisor in San Francisco when I lived there in the late 70s. I was living there when he was elected and so happy about his election. When he was assassinated along with the mayor I was part of the candlelight march for his memorial. I was an election judge in the election where he was voted in. I remember being so proud of the city... and so horrified at the murders, more than any other public figure's death in my life.

The killer used the "Twinkie defense" and got off with a light five years for the killings.

I have a much stronger emotional reaction to people I actually know having tragedy in their lives, people who also know me. Harvey Milk was someone I voted for and became involved with through the campaign. Most of the celebrity deaths are things that I run into people talking about in great depth as if the gossip portion of the news could be trusted. I don't trust the accuracy of the news or think it's right to go prying into people's lives in depth, sometimes the postmortem publicity is revolting in how much dirt it digs up on people.

I know that I don't know them and they don't know me. Whatever I think of their performances, the trouble they had in life is theirs and not something I could help with. Except by not pestering them and giving them the weight of more social pressure on top of it -- that's the one thing I can do for all of those famous people. I read the articles and realize that sometimes the mob of fans can become controlling, demand that they produce exactly what they did before and not experiment, demand that they make certain lifestyle decisions or gloat over personal problems like addiction in a vicious way.

It's a big social phenomenon that I'm not part of. There are several aspects of American life where I just don't participate -- sports, and this celebrity-gossip hobby are only a couple of them. I find things like reading, writing, drawing and painting a lot more satisfying and prefer to connect with people who know who I am. Just not much of a spectator. Least of all on people's private lives.
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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 8th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
There's a new movie out about Milk (called Milk, appropriately enough). I hope you get a chance to see it. :)
Dec. 9th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if I want to. I'm glad it was made. I hope it raises awareness of the whole thing. But for me it'd be depressing and bring back that night of grief.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


2013 Nano Winner
Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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