Killing yourself in Hollywood

November 18th, 2014, 8am

It was 12°C with few clouds. The wind was light.

Whenever a Hollywood actor dies of drugs or commits suicide, many thoughts are expressed about how the industry destroys the sensitive, or about how the deceased could not handle the fame and lifestyle that comes with being a star. I even know people who get mad at those stars, blaming them for ungratefulness and arrogance: “they are given everything on a plate but they decide to die. Why should I feel pity for them?”

I have never been a Hollywood star — talented, handsome, loveable, revered, (seemingly) invincible, and godlike – so it’s difficult to empathise with the hardships that might be associated with a reality so far removed from mine. But I have been, and still am, a human, and therefore I can empathise with their (very) human suffering, and consequently become saddened by their defeat. These actors did not lose a battle with stardom; they lost a battle with their own selves.

If the funniest man on the planet sees no other way out than to remove himself from life, I can empathise with the loneliness he must have felt and the despair that could not be topped by the love he received from his loved ones and his fans. When one of the best actors of his generation uses drugs to ‘lose’ himself, or soothe the emotional pain, or deal with life’s troubles, I can empathise with the disappointment and self-loathing he may have felt, or his weakness. When a beautiful female actress, loved for her roles and her truthfulness, decides to replace her face with someone else’s (killing her real self in the process), I can empathise with her lack of self-acceptance, her need to be someone else, and even the exhaustion she must have felt in trying to maintain an image of normalcy and happiness when inside of her she was dying.

I can empathise because, despite our different backgrounds, we are all human. We are all fighting similar, internal personal wars. Most of us survive them because we don’t realise who it is we’re fighting; most of us think we’re fighting enemies that are out there somewhere (our parents, our partners, our friends, our colleagues, our fellow citizens). If we knew we were actually fighting ourselves, things might get scarier, and if we lost that battle, maybe more of us would choose to die.

When a Hollywood star dies from drugs, or suicide, or even from a plastic surgeon’s knife, it’s another personal battle that has been lost. And that fills me with sadness, compassion and understanding. Because being a human is difficult; living with your self is difficult; loving yourself is a feat. And those of us who survive are not necessarily more courageous. We may simply have never come face to face with our true selves.

Shu, David Wade and Christine said thanks.

Share this moment

Maria Coveou

travel journalist, translator, freelance script supervisor for film & TV, film buff, lover of the written word and of music, blogger, vintage lover, '80s child, occasional flapper, Lindy hopper, traveler, thinker, dreamer, temporary alien []

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook