Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a drug overdose on Saturday…and it’s awful.
What I find even less palatable is the manner in which denizens of the social media world float around the corpse of news like vultures around a bloated hippopotamus.
It seems that with every celebrity death and outpouring of shock, there are many who wish to diminish the individual’s presence to “just a junky”, and I am perplexed by it.
Everyone does or has done something stupid. ALL have made decisions that they are lucky to get away with: driving too fast, driving after a beverage (not necessarily drunk), BEING drunk and walking home.
Or maybe they haven’t, maybe it is just me that is stupid, and has made some stupid choices, far many more than the tame examples I’ve listed above.
At 41 they are not choices I have made in a very long while, nor are they choices I think I will make again, but while I am yet to achieve the level of fame or fortune that PSH had (I will or I won’t, either is okay with me) a bad headline is only a bad choice away.
Lets say I go out and get drunk, and walk in front of a car.
“Writer walks in front of a car. Driver traumatised. Political members call for tougher drinking laws”
What would the response to that be?
Regardless of my level of fame, news and media LIKE the idea of a tragic artist, no matter how obscure they might be, so perhaps:
“Oh, I loved his books, and his poems”
“Typical, he was drunk and he deserved what he got”
“He really loved his wife.”
“Shouldn’t have had that last Jaeger ROFL”
“F**k him, he should have known better, he was a crap writer anyway. I don’t need to read his books to know that. Now he’s just another dead guy.”
Indeed, I would be just another dead guy. In the scheme of things my death would mean as much to the universe as a pebble disappearing into a pond.
But my being drunk at that very instant would only be one brief facet of my life, a decisive one certainly, but not the whole.
I am among the critical. I wrote a piece on Amy Winehouse the day after she died, and as harsh as it was, I stand by the essence of it – that she, like Hoffman, made bad choices.
I am not suggesting that they chose addiction as a life path. Who would? At some point though, in the dim and distant past they decided to jam a needle in their arm or decided to drink enough booze to raise the national average. Those choices became addictions – unfortunately those addictions became a thing that defined them; a definition that does not include love, or those that loved them, creative pursuits or the thousands of other things that made them the people they were.
That they had the monetary clout, and that somehow that makes them even more guilty of throwing their lives away, speaks more for the culture of envy than anything else.
What is true is that Hoffman was an addict. One of many, most of whom would rather not be.
Without trying to justify his addictions, I would argue that because of his cash his addictions didn’t see him beating up old women for their purse, or being forced to get on his knees for ten bucks in a back alley somewhere. I suggest that the available cash made it easier to be an addict.
Yes it is a waste.
But the argument of “Oh he had it all, he didn’t deserve it/should have thought more/blah blah blah” often comes from those who have constructed their own perceptions and coping mechanisms within the world that they live. Every house has a dark room.
Just another junky?
No, just another person with an addiction who died too soon, too wrapped in an addiction to see beyond it.
He could have, but didn’t.
I have done stupid things, I am not in any position to judge.
In pointing at the dead thing in the corner, I point away from the thing that I am.
Do you think you need help with addiction?
If you even paused before answering, then it might be time to consider help.
Start here, reach out and help will come – Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous
If you are thinking “I need help, but I have no idea about all the options that are available to me , what they cost, and how can I possibly afford them” all your questions can be answered at American Addiction Centers — see below for a brief note on what the AAC does:
“We have recently undertaken a campaign to promote resources that fill a particular unmet need on the web. In the case of substance abuse treatment, there are many directories, guides and government resources. However, there is one part of the treatment process that remains murky and unexplained to those seeking help.