Monday, February 3, 2014

The sad, sordid death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Obviously a shock to hear about Philip Seymour Hoffman buying the farm. Needless to say it's sad -- a terrible waste of life and talent.

When I first heard about his death I thought maybe he chucked a hearty and carked it -- not unlike that chubby African newsreader Komla Dumor. But it turns out a heroin overdose was the cause.

Yet again, you've gotta ask: Why are so many successful and accomplished performers so prone to addiction? In recent years so many have carked it as a result of this affliction it's not funny. Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston -- the list goes on.

But Hoffman's death was clearly one of the worst. Heath Ledger's passing, for example, while similarly sad, was not quite so sordid. It was caused by a combination of prescription drugs, after all. So the bad judgement of various medical professionals could well have been a factor in it.

But meeting your maker on the end of a syringe full of smack? That's gotta be one of the most unedifying ways to pop your clogs there are, surely!

When you read about such events the facade of glamour and success that is Hollywood is shown for what it is. Makes you wonder how many other famous and seemingly highly functional people are actually living in a drug-fuelled haze, soon to shake hands with the Grim Reaper ...

And there's clearly widespread acceptance of this weakness within the film industry and others like it. That disturbs me. Numerous big name actors are expressing their shock and dismay about this latest untimely death. But they also seem kinda resigned to it -- almost as if they knew it was coming (and hell, some of them probably did).

High profile professionals in other fields die from drug overdoses from time to time, too. But this does not occur with the monotonous regularity it does in the entertainment industry. (Granted, these premature expirations are less newsworthy. But even taking that into account there's clearly a disparity.)

Would any other industry be so tolerant of the scourge of drug addiction if it reached the same level it has in Hollywood? I doubt it.

Of course many people believe that creative talent and drug addiction are two sides of the same coin. Frankly, that's a crock. This article supplies an example. It describes the late actor as "Meryl Streep with a beard".

The brilliant Streep herself has never been at risk of early death from drug or alcohol abuse. She seems to be as emotionally healthy and stable as she is talented.

Then there's that other Hoffman, Dustin. He may have had a few struggles in his time, I'm not sure. But if so he's certainly shrugged them off and is still going strong.

This belief that talent and addiction go hand in hand is clearly utter nonsense. It would be great if the artistic community stopped perpetuating it. If it did, premature deaths like Hoffman's might not occur as depressingly frequently as they do.

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