Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another Child Star Gone


So, Corey Haim passed away, at the age of thirty-eight. Autopsy results aren't in, and it might not have been an accidental or intentional drug OD, but the alternative seems to be CHF brought on by long-term drug abuse, which isn't any better an ending. Kid was on a lot of pills.

It's a tough gig, being a child star. Many of them have gone via drugs, accidentally or on purpose -- Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, River Phoenix, Brad Renfro. Can't count Heath Ledger -- he didn't get there via stage parents and schooling on the set, though a fair number of young actors have OD'ed, too.

Sad. You have fame, money, but no sense of danger and no reason to exercise self-control. And then the phone stops ringing and the work stops coming.

I always felt sorry for Dumbo. Yeah, he was a famous elephant when he was a baby, but what happened to him when he grew into his ears? He wasn't going to be doing barrel rolls when he was a full-grown elephant ...

Wonder if Dumbo took to drink once he stopped flying ...

Oh, and as fondly as I remember parts of that movie, it has bleak moments. Dumbo's mom chained up and unable to comfort her baby. The wonderful no-punches-pulled racism from Disney -- if you haven't seen it, watch the YouTube video "When I See an Elephant Fly." Funny lyrics, but oh, my, those shuckin' and jivin' crows couldn't get much more Stepin Fetchit. Of course, it was 1941, but it wasn't until last year that Disney got around to portraying black people in any kind of positive light, in the Princess and the Frog. And Song of the South is so in-your-face 'bout them shiftless Negroes that they won't let it out of the vaults for home video. Oh, dat Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear and de tar baby, lawsy, lawsy ...

Zippy-a-dee-doo-dah.

8 comments:

Thomas said...

Dumbo is one of those Disney movies that has no right to be shown to parents with any regularity. My wife can't see it without curling up into the fetal position and embracing the sorrow.

I'm the same way about Finding Nemo. We saw that in the theater the first time on Father's Day (!!) and I had my youngest son sitting in my lap the whole time. The scene where Nemo is thought dead, again, and Marlin thinks back to the time when his boy was just a little egg...

Steve Perry said...

The old DIsney pictures were not for children, despite their marketing. Bambi is as adult and scary as anything Hitchcock ever did. If you are a parent and you don't want to cry when you see Bambi or Dumbo? Something's loose in your wiring.

Disney ripped off a lot of Grimm's Fairy Tales, and cleaned them up considerably, but some of the darkness in those remains. And talk about tales to scare the crap out of kids -- read some of those in their original incarnations -- more violence and gore than a Tarantino movie.

James said...

Officer James Bonneau of Jackson PD died the day befor Corey Haim responding to a Domestic Disturbance call. Shot and killed. The next day Haim died of a drug overdose. Guess which one got the most press?
Tough gig, my ass.

Steve Perry said...

Difference, James, is that the officer wore a badge and a gun and went into peril knowing there was a risk of deadly violence. That he got shot is awful, but not altogether unexpected -- it's one of the risks of the job.

Haim was a celebrity, one who supposedly had reached a height and earned enough money so that he could, if he wished, coast the rest of his life.

And both men are dead. Both are, in their own way, tragic, because of the choices they made.

Is Haim's passing more than Bonneau's? No. But the cult of celebrity is what it is, and while the man who picks up my trash is more useful to me than a television star, man bites dog will always get more press than dog bites man.

Justice has never been fair, has it?

James said...

It's just me being a cranky old man (not as old as you by a couple of years, but still....). I've never gotten the whole false sense of intimacy that celebrity conveys and why people get so emotional over the death of someone who, basically, pretended to be other people for a living, or ran really fast and caught a ball.
And I think there's a huge difference between someone who took an oath to protect others and met his end in a violent manner while attempting to fulfill that oath and someone who was, perhaps, disappointed in his career and took too many medications.
I guess I've seen too much of this kind of self-indulgent, whiny crap in my career to have much sympathy.
I shall now dismount my soapbox and attempt to stick the landing.

Steve Perry said...

I didn't say it was right, nor am I arguing that it should be. Only that's how it is.

The cult of celebrity has been with us forever. But it really blossomed with the advent of movies and radio, because then you could see and hear people who were cast as heroes, good guys, examples for the youth of their day.

Television compounded it, because you can see the folks every week, and after a while, every day in reruns. And those people never age once the series is in the can.

John Wayne's image onscreen -- Wayne almost always played Wayne -- was such that you felt like you knew the man. He didn't fight in the war, but he was part of what stirred others to do so. And you might see him in a dozen movies whereas that kid you went to high school with, you hadn't seen in ten years. Out of sight, out of mind.

Lot of folks have trouble keep the fantasy and reality apart, which is why it's sometimes not a good idea to meet your idols and discover that they have feet of clay.

In a perfect world, people who do the hardest work would be paid the best. Not ever gonna happen.

Harlan Ellison tells a story about Dan Blocker the actor, who was beset by a little old lady who wanted Hoss and Little Joe and Adam and Pa to fire Hop Sing and get a good woman to cook for them on the Ponderosa.

Even when Blocker pointed out that he was an actor and the Ponderosa was a TV set built on a sound stage, she was undeterred.

Fantasy can teach lessons but telling the difference between that and reality can get spooky.

I don't know what kind of cop Bonneau was. I never met him, saw him, didn't hear anything about him until he died. Do I think he was a better man than Corey Haim? Certainly in the manner of his death, no question.

But when rich and famous people die, it hits home harder for a lot of folks. I mean, sure us ordinary guys die, but it always seems like some kind of shock when a public figure does it. If Death can claim the Duke, maybe I'm not invincible, either ...

Steve Perry said...

I guess I might as well say this because if I don't, somebody else probably will.

I didn't know James Bonneau -- he was, according to what I saw, young and only on the job a couple years in the Jackson department. He could have been the nicest young man in Mississippi. Or not -- there's no excuse for murdering him either way.

Recently, a deputy in the next county over from me, Sergeant Jeffry Grahn -- a volunteer on the domestic violence squad -- walked into a bar, grabbed his estranged wife, dragged her outside and shot her dead. Then he went back inside and shot two of his wife's girlfriends before turning the gun on himself.

They all died. One of the women hung on in a coma for a couple weeks.

Cops do a tough job and I applaud them for it, but they don't get issued halos with the handcuffs.

Tragedy is tragedy.

James said...

Dammit! That means I have to turn the Halo back in when I retire. Again.