Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Broken Ledger



Heath Ledger's death (a suicide? or accidental, according to the Ledger family) has caused the sudden fans to come forth. With responses like "He was on of my favorite actors" and Ang Lee's ridiculous parallel of Ledger to Brando is a sad calling to American standards. Ledger was a good actor and his death is a sad event. His work in Brokeback Mountain says it all in terms of his depth (though Jake Gyllenhall was the heart of the film); not to mention his appearance in the over rated Monster's Ball (Lee Daniel's "urban" expose' and Halle Berry's attempt to "play down" her beauty) established Ledger as an actor to look out for.

But that's it.

Ang Lee's comment on linking Ledger's acting capacity to Brando is a far cry from the truth. The closest comparison there ever was to Brando was James Dean; and even Dean's comparison was out of admiration and homo-eroticism rather than actual fact (Dean was bisexual, as was Brando; Dean's persona was openly snatched from Brando; it was written that Dean would irritate Brando with how boldly he would imitate Brando's acting style, beliefs, and personal life). Brando had no comparisons. Not even Johnny Depp matched Brando's esoteric nature. So Lee's comment, in my mind, results as false.

The closest Ledger came to any one outside himself was the late (brilliant) River Phoenix. Both Ledger and Phoenix were their own being, choosing the projects they did out of necessity and spiritual connection (Brando took his early career for granted and eventually was taking projects just to make money and ride off his name rather than embrace his love for acting; he stopped loving acting after On The Waterfront). Phoenix with My Own Private Idaho, like Ledger with Brokeback Mountain, can be seen as the on going plight for male acceptance in homo-phobic America. Both films explored the depths of male/male love (at the expense of jokes and possible blacklisting) better than most male/female love stories, that pretend to be genuine while falsifying character circumstance to fit plot points. Both Brokeback and Idaho left no room for pretend; nor did Ledger or Phoenix play it safe and make light of the dances with danger for the sake of exploitation. Both films consider the backlash of gay love and dare to go against cliche' beliefs of gay male encounters (in that all gay men wanna do is fuck).

True?

As true as heterosexual men wanting to fuck; and yet as viewers we are told to swallow the garbage male/female love stories because their nature is considered "normal." But neither Ledger nor Phoenix allowed themselves to be caught in the madness while fully committing to stories that solidified their place in popular culture.

The annoyance behind Ledger's death are the pseudo-fans who come forth and claim a "loss." John Lennon was a loss. Malcolm X was a loss. Marvin Gaye was a loss. Aaliyah was a loss. Gregory Hines was a loss. River Phoenix was a loss. Heath Ledger was a misfortune (as was Kurt Cobain and James Dean) that gets mitigated from over-blown mourns. The fact that the deaths of Ledger, Cobain, and Dean conjure the vigil outbreaks without any real weight behind their work proves the shallow mindedness within Popular Culture. It encourages the "fuck it" attitude and allows would-be's to gain a legacy without truly earning it (Tupac Shakur earned his legacy). Even the death of Notorious B.I.G. brought an uprising to America's obsession with melancholy, forgetting that B.I.G. made two mediocre albums (the most over rated album of the 90's, next to Nirvana's "Nevermind" was B.I.G.'s "Ready to Die"), both of which contributed to the Diddy cess-pool of pop crap, and resulted in the ridiculous rip off from The Police's "Every Breath You Take." The celebration of B.I.G.'s death was not done out of honor, but out of guilt.

Ledger's plight towards stardom gained a respect based on his choices, rather than his mark. Fans revel in his nature to find projects that were "honest" in order to make Americans believe they have an understanding of what an artist is (these same "fans" who threw out the "brokeback" jokes, never truly embracing the importance of Ang Lee's contribution to cinema -- despite his ignorant comment). Not to mention it is forgotten that Ledger's place in history is marked ONLY by Brokeback Mountain, not First Knight; not The Patriot; not 10 Things I Hate About You; not Fourfeathers. Therefore his death can only be seen as a misfortune, not a "loss."

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About Me

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writer, actor, & producer in training. in 2005, along side my partner in film and best friend since childhood, we produced and executed 3 films. to this day i am still working in "the business" to the best of my abilities and moving forward to the "next level." currently i am producing a film project, co-writing another, awaiting word on a stage play for New York, and pursuing my next one-person show. i'm also in school pursuing my Ph.D in Social Science.