Taken from my website blog.
I don’t often update my personal blog, mostly because I just can’t behind blogging just for the sake of blogging. I already have enough chores to procrastinate and whine about. But once in a while, I get some thoughts on a particular subject, and then more thoughts follow that one, and then it starts to become a blog post in my mind. Because otherwise, I’d have to let them disappear and then…well, that’s not the time we’re in right now. We’re in the “use your public platform and shout out every single thought in your head!” So, that’s what I’m going to do now.
So, Paul Walker died.
I had some initial thoughts when I started seeing mention of it on my Facebook news feed: I thought, Well, this is obviously bullsh*t. How many times has Morgan Freeman died now? Then I thought, Sh*t, Paul Walker’s 40? so that made me think about how old I’m getting. And then, when reputable news sources confirmed the story, I thought, Holy sh*t…did he have any kids? because that was always one of my worst-imaginable fears growing up, losing my parents. Then I thought, Man…did he have a significant other? What about his parents? So, overall, it was a shock.
And now I’m seeing these images shared via social media, with messages along the lines of “R.I.P. to the other guy in the car with Paul Walker, who’s getting no recognition because he wasn’t famous.” This sparked a number of posts and articles about The Other Person, to try and satisfy people’s curiosity about who this man was so that…so that what? So that we’ll feel like insensitive douchebags? So that we can bring his name to the top of Google’s searches for the name “Roger”?
This whole thing pisses me off a little.
A fact about me: I read the local obits, usually right before I go to bed. I pull up the daily obits for the area I live in, and I read every single one. I don’t do this everyday, because a lot of times I’m ready to close my eyes as soon as my head hits the pillow, but I do it often. And when I haven’t done it for a while, I’ll scroll all the way back to the where I left off. I find out a lot of really interesting information that way—like there was a woman living in my region who was a survivor of the Holodomor (the Ukrainian extermination by hunger). I learn about all of the people I could be crossing paths with at the gas station who are devastated at losing someone. I’m reminded that parents lose babies, teens lose their boyfriends/girlfriends, young college students die of cancer, and many people die after super-long lives. And if there are pictures provided, I learn that they had faces. Regular faces.
I’m not making a mind-blowing observation here by saying that it’s not possible for each of us to know who all the other people are on earth. There have been several horrific car crashes in the Toronto area lately—many who are quite similar to the one that took the lives of Paul Walker and Roger Rodas (The Other Guy). So, my question to those who post their thoughts about forgetting the “other guy in the car because he wasn’t famous” as though it was a reproach, a way to make the rest of us feel like bad little humans for only reacting to the actor’s death, do you care about the deaths going on around you? The lady who used to serve you coffee on the way to work could’ve died and not just quit, like you assumed. Do you read the obits and pay your respects for all those who die, every single second of every day?
No. Of course not. Because that would be ridiculous. That would likely land you in a padded room. Already I’m sure people would think it’s weird I read about the deaths of locals. That I sometimes check out their “R.I.P” Facebook groups to see them in pictures, so that I can get my head nice and confused over the fact that people—people sometimes really geographically close to me—were alive and now they’re not, and I never knew them anyway. That’s a mind-f*ck. So, I give a lot of thoughts to the fact that so many people die everyday that most of us don’t know about—mainly that that’s just life.
So, basically, shame on you, people who think it’s cool to make yourself stick out with your reprimanding of people for supposedly not “caring” about anyone but The Famous Guy. The famous guy, Paul Walker, is someone a lot of people knew, or know of. He’s been in so many movies I love (Running Scared, in particular), so yeah, his death shocked me and it sent a ripple of reality all the way to my little world. Unfortunately, I didn’t give much thought to who was driving the car beyond the initial “two people lost their lives and that’s awful.” We all have our own ecosystems, which include many people: our friends, families, coworkers, acquaintances, people by association—but also people we’ve never met, like actors and authors, and even characters on TV (The Walking Dead, anyone?). These are people who each have a little spot in our hearts because we know them, they each have a face in our minds. So, Roger Rodas had his own ecosystem of humans who are dying right now at the fact that they lost him. It’s pretty empty and fake to try and force fans and curious readers out there to go around mourning a man they only found out about through his death coinciding with a famous person’s death. He was famous to his own people. He probably has enough tears shed for him. It’s an insult to try and make his death alongside an actor mean something more just because of the actor-factor. Do any of you know what Roger did a lot of charity work? Now you do, only because he died with The Famous Guy and has become an interesting social media topic. See, this whole thing becomes a mind-f*ck because you can’t go back in time and “know” someone who’s died already. It’s too late to pretend you’re sad they’re gone. Wanting to spread awareness about someone you know who’s died is one thing, but trying to shame people into caring by making a statement on pop culture and what it means to be a celebrity is disrespectful.
There are different levels of loss and mourning, I think. The loss you feel at a friend’s parent dying, and the loss you feel at losing your precious dog are completely different. The loss of your co-worker, and the loss of a celebrity you were a fan of are also completely different. But, I think trying shame people into feeling like cold-hearted pricks for how they react to death surrounding famous public figures is fake and pathetic. It’s meaningless. People die all the time and it’s always sad and it means different things to different people. Just be sad, in whatever way it comes, and pay your respects, and leave it at that.
Don’t force it, don’t fake it, or else it’s just a big joke. And death is never a joke.