Monday, September 14, 2009

Going Off the Rails on a Swayze Train

I will seriously never understand our culture's obssession with celebrity death (as a quick side bar: for anyone reading this who has already picked up on the self-defeating irony of this first sentence, please respect my right to contradict myself every once in a while. After all, it's necessary to breach this subject anyways). I suppose that if we celebrate the life of a celebrity it is only logical that we pay them their respects after death, but Christ on a bike, the amount of attention that film/TV/music stars recieve upon death is disproportionate bordering on farcical, even worse so than the attention they recieve during life. The fact that Michael Jackson was nothing less than lionized immediately following his death (which of course was tied into a massive marketing campaign for Jacko paraphenalia) is a little revealing about a cultural response we seem to be conditioned into, wherein we seem to be justifying to ourselves that these figures are worth paying so much attention to in the first place.

So, Patrick Swayze. The fact that man dies of cancer may indeed by tragic, but it is perhaps more tragic that this death is like to grab front pages across the world, while buried on page A26 lies unread news about issues that should be of real concern to us. The death of celebrities is painted more often as the death of an ideal rather than the death of a person, and it is shameful that we should have our ideals about issues such as social justice or environmental stewardship so tightly wrapped up in people who often unqualified to address these same issues. Perhaps this is the result of culture that has become acutely delocalized and can no longer fix its gaze and attach its ideals to community leaders, but rather to a large and grandoise body of jet-setting celebrities upon, whom we can collectively imprint our values.

Here I turn to sarcasm, to ridicule. Certainly we are worthy of healthy amounts of it. So please, when I crack a joke about Patrick Swayze over the next week, don't look at me like I'm some kind of monster - after all, why should a man who lived most of his life as a wealthy playboy capture our gaze when there are far more needy people still living that require our attention? I'm just holding up the mirror so we can see how stupid we look.

The goods: Encounters at the End of the World, DJ Shadow - Endtroducing..., Madvillain - Madvillainy, Deep Wound - Deep Wound 7", Siege - Drop Dead, Liars - They Were Wrong So We Drowned, Charles Bukowski - Ham on Rye, John Coltrane - Coltrane, Fugazi - In on the Killtaker, Sun Ra - The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra Vol. 1