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  1. #1
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    Default Heath Ledger: one year on*

    Not quite sure where to put this, so I'll put it here. If any mods have more clarity, feel free to move it.

    I've recently been giving some thought to Heath Ledger and the reaction his death generated. I know I had always wanted him to do well as a likeable-seeming Australian actor, but I'd never considered myself a fan of his per se. So when I heard the news of his death I was very surprised by the amount of shock and even grief I felt. Neither did I seem to be the only one affected in this way - in the days following his death many people I encountered expressed shock and regret. "It's hard to believe" was a common refrain. I had considered it a reaction probably localized to Australia until an American friend emailed me to tell me that when she heard of his death she'd actually cried, even though she wasn't someone who normally cared about the lives of celebrities.

    So I have a few questions.
    1. How did the news of Heath's death affect you personally? Did you care?
    2. He's been referred to in places as the James Dean of his generation. Do you agree with this, or do you think it was, in retrospect, an overstatement?
    3. What do you think it was about his death which affected people the way it did?



    * Okay, it may be a little longer than a year, but it's a catchier title than "18 months on".

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    Not quite sure where to put this, so I'll put it here. If any mods have more clarity, feel free to move it.

    I've recently been giving some thought to Heath Ledger and the reaction his death generated. I know I had always wanted him to do well as a likeable-seeming Australian actor, but I'd never considered myself a fan of his per se. So when I heard the news of his death I was very surprised by the amount of shock and even grief I felt. Neither did I seem to be the only one affected in this way - in the days following his death many people I encountered expressed shock and regret. "It's hard to believe" was a common refrain. I had considered it a reaction probably localized to Australia until an American friend emailed me to tell me that when she heard of his death she'd actually cried, even though she wasn't someone who normally cared about the lives of celebrities.

    So I have a few questions.
    1. How did the news of Heath's death affect you personally? Did you care?
    2. He's been referred to in places as the James Dean of his generation. Do you agree with this, or do you think it was, in retrospect, an overstatement?
    3. What do you think it was about his death which affected people the way it did?



    * Okay, it may be a little longer than a year, but it's a catchier title than "18 months on".
    1. I did care, but that is the only regard in which his death affected me personally. Frankly, I mourned the loss to my personal (future potential) entertainment experiences, but not without thinking on the loss to his loved ones on a more tangible level.
    2. James Dean is one of those people who although talented, has acquired his legendary status over many years posthumously. The same may happen to Heath Ledger, but if it doesn't he is no less for it.
    3. Young, talented, famous, good-looking people who appear to have everything going for them hold god-like status in modern culture. When the invincible are proved vincible, it reminds us all of our own mortality and that rattles the masses.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  3. #3
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    1. How did the news of Heath's death affect you personally? Did you care?

    Hearing about a person dying so young always has an effect on me. Of course I cared when I heard of his death. I followed his career for many years and enjoyed his performances and hoped to see much more of his development as an actor.

    2. He's been referred to in places as the James Dean of his generation. Do you agree with this, or do you think it was, in retrospect, an overstatement?

    I don't think it's an overstatement because he was very talented. But I think his death adds even more to the legend his fans uphold.

    3. What do you think it was about his death which affected people the way it did?

    It was his youth and that his death was unexpected plus the circumstances of his death as well. He was on top of the world at the time and he had so much going for him in the future. Seeing something like that just suddenly stop is hard to watch, and I agree with iwakar that such a thing makes people think about themselves and their mortality.

  4. #4
    Free-Rangin' Librarian Jae Rae's Avatar
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    Well said, Iwakar.

    Coincidentally I watched The Dark Knight for a school assignment last night, and he MADE that movie. Actors who take the chances he did are rare. Had he given his best performance in The Dark Knight or Brokeback Mountain? Probably not. We mourn the possibilities.

    That said, I remember the shock my daughter (14 at the time) and her friends felt. Youth + talent + death = shock. He was an actor on the edge who represented young people on the edge (natural state of being when you're a teen).

    For the reason mentioned above, yes, he's like James Dean. He got into the hearts of young people and others who identified with him as a risk-taker.
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    Senior Member Saslou's Avatar
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    Default

    So I have a few questions.

    1. How did the news of Heath's death affect you personally? Did you care?
    NO

    2. He's been referred to in places as the James Dean of his generation. Do you agree with this, or do you think it was, in retrospect, an overstatement?
    Yes, it is an overstatement

    3. What do you think it was about his death which affected people the way it did?
    You mean other than people wanted to jump on the bandwagon. So he was a celebrity ... and ... Who else died that day that were not a celebrity, is their pain any less real due to the fact the person was just an average Joe.
    The media, got to love them. Who says you can't make a profit from someone's death. Oh yeah, the idiots that keep on buying the papers, magazines, going to see the film just because he was in it.
    Suckers.
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  6. #6
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    1. How did the news of Heath's death affect you personally? Did you care?

    Well, yes and no. Not as much as finding out Michael Turner died, but I felt very saddened by it. I thought he was a good actor.

    2. He's been referred to in places as the James Dean of his generation. Do you agree with this, or do you think it was, in retrospect, an overstatement?

    I'm not sure. My sister's the big James Dean fan, not me. I think he was a very good actor, and I'm very positive that he was the only one capable of successfully capturing the Joker in his entirety, one of my all-time favorite characters.

    3. What do you think it was about his death which affected people the way it did?

    The whole Dark Knight thing, to me. I think when you take a good actor + a WAY above the top role + a tragic, early death you = a lot of open emotional pain. To me, it was his best role ever played. I've been a fan of batman since I could remember something more than "food" and "sleep", to see something be played so well and then lose it sorta sucks.
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  7. #7

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    I too was taken aback by the reaction to his death, especially after it quickly became clear what caused it. I was surprised that such a middling actor with such a light resume was being so profoundly mourned.

    I think that for some reason we fetishize celebrity death. If you're a modestly talented or criminal entertainer, death now seems to be the way to whitewash your legacy and attain the respect you never earned in life. Only you're not around to enjoy it.

    I'm not sure when this started, but I think it's getting worse. I noticed something similar after 9/11. Everyone seemed to be in a contest to show who was the most devastated...stories abounded in which some tangential link caused people to claim to be personally affected in a special way. Plenty of crocodile tears were cried over that event, and while I'm not likening 9/11 to a celebrity death, the aftermath of each bear a striking resemblance.
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  8. #8
    Pronounced eye-ee-dee Eiddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    1. How did the news of Heath's death affect you personally? Did you care?
    It came as quite a shock. I knew of him and seen a few of his movies, but went back to watch some of them again. It's like he's still here, but gone.

    When I hear people die of drug O.D.s, I don't feel so much for them, money and fame does that for a lot of people. Health problems especially in the younger one's always affects me more. Although I don't watch T.V. or follow up with celebrities, if I know of them then it pulls at me.

    In his case, with drugs involved I am not sure how I feel entirely about it, but he was young and living the dreams many people only wished for.

    I guess I feel bad if thought about in this context, "When some people come, they make you happy; When some people leave, they make you happy."

    2. He's been referred to in places as the James Dean of his generation. Do you agree with this, or do you think it was, in retrospect, an overstatement?
    I have never heard of that statement. Although nowadays there are many times over the amount of actors compared to the amount of actors they had back in the days of James Dean, so no. Plus, James Dean will long be remembered for quite a few things, he seemed to represent an era an icon if you will. Heath, I don't think achieved that amount of fame amongst the many stars like Brad Pitt or others..

    3. What do you think it was about his death which affected people the way it did?
    He was young and living many persons dreams as stated before. In the midst of going up, where there wasn't a future. High hopes, high dreams, dashed to nothingness. It's like that for anyone young, even more so for one living a life in the public eye.
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    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    I thought Heath Ledger was one of the more talented actors of his generation. He seemed like a nice guy, and he seemed as if he'd have a promising career. His death was shocking and sad, but I was surprised by the reaction to his death. I never thought of him as particularly iconic. Just a good actor. The news coverage was a big excessive, as was the public reaction, to me. One of those moments when I felt like I couldn't really relate to what was going on around me.
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  10. #10
    S Saiyan God Mace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    1. How did the news of Heath's death affect you personally? Did you care?
    I was (personally) surprised in that he died young. That is always a tragedy, to be honest.

    3. What do you think it was about his death which affected people the way it did?


    2. He's been referred to in places as the James Dean of his generation. Do you agree with this, or do you think it was, in retrospect, an overstatement?
    The fact that he died terribly young, thus the mystery behind his death.

    I think it was in 'retrospect, an overstatement' - as you'd call it, given both celebrities died particularly young. Otherwise, I don't see how this would hold as a substantial statement, given there is no clear comparison between the two actor's careers.

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