All day long I’ve been carrying a heavy heart about Heath Ledger’s death. I mean, why the heck did he have to die? Not even hospitalisation, but frickin’ end-of-the-road bucket kicking? Of course I don’t know the guy, but as a public figure in this age of overexposure, it’s hard not to know of him and hence slap a face on a real tragedy.
It somehow feels like a betrayal of the right order of things because just a year ago he was on Oprah with his girlfriend and his Oscar nomination and mooning over his baby girl, making you admire the sweetness of talent succeeding, though a few months ago it was splitsville anyway, but now this? Dead? What the heck? Why?
This is some sick shite to any narrative you might attempt to plaster on the world. He didn’t seem like some hard-drinkin, hard-livin’ maniac. It seemed like there would be years of ever more tolerable performances to come from an actor I’ve not always had patience for (and who I’ve just found out is only two days younger). What the heck!
Days later the media hoopla will encircle something else, but I don’t think I’ll forget this shock, this dismay in a hurry, nor should I. Really sorry for his two-year-old daughter, who despite all the comforts of life now joins the angry innocents whose fathers have been torn away too soon, too suddenly.
Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian speaks for me:
Heath Ledger’s death could not have shocked me more
What a desperately sad day for the actor’s friends, family and fans — and that third group includes me
In eight years doing the job, I’ve never had to write about something as purely and genuinely miserable as this. Without going into Diana-style rhetoric, I can hardly think of a newsflash which would really shock me more. Heath Ledger — the name is short for “Heathcliff” – is an actor who had grown in stature, in sensitivity, in feeling and in creative intelligence. We had all watched him transform himself from the likeable young dude who played the bad boy teen in 10 Things I Hate About You to the tragic cowboy Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee’s magnificent Brokeback Mountain, who movingly discovers that the love of his life is a man. His stunningly persuasive transformation from young hunk to lonely old man in that film really was remarkable. His director, Ang Lee, called him a young Brando.
With this and some bits of sad news streaming in from home, the phrase memento mori springs to mind again:
Vita brevis breviter in brevi finietur,
Mors venit velociter quae neminem veretur,
Omnia mors perimit et nulli miseretur.
Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus.
Life is short, and shortly it will end;
Death comes quickly and respects no one,
It destroys everything and takes pity on no one.
To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.