New Test Leper - REM (mp3)
Please Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want - The Scattered Pages (mp3)
For the non-LOST geeks out there, this is one of the show's recurring quotes and one that encapsulates at least a part of the governing philosophy on this mystical island. For those of us in Real America who find ourselves on the less than a day away from knowing that Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson are both dead, this quote should mean something as well.
When I look at these two deaths, I don't feel sadness for the loss to our popular culture. I don't feel sadness for myself or their fans. I feel a sadness for celebrity. What's been on my mind when thinking about these two people is this: for every rung we climb on the ladder to success and fame, how much more isolated and lonely must we be?
Michael Jackson sold out concert after concert across the globe. He made teenagers and adults cry from something like fetishistic ecstasy when he walked by or when he moon walked or when he grabbed whatever was left of his crotch. He was surrounded by guards, advisors, lawyers, and anyone else who qualified for his "entorage." Yet I'm sure I'm not alone in believing that no one on this entire planet knew Michael Jackson.
How many people knew Michael Jackson?
And when I say "know," I don't mean "know he targets little kids, scurries them to his private quarters, feeds them Jesus juice and takes advantage of them." I don't mean secrets or personal peccadillos. I mean, I don't think anyone knew the guy. I think he died alone. Utterly, completely, and in all ways alone.
Farrah Fawcett is also a total mystery and stranger, although a little more understandably so. Here's a woman on whom our culture thrust about a million fantasies and hang-ups solely because of a single poster and a single season on Charlie's Angels. Sure, I also loved her in Saturn 3 and Logan's Run. Hell, I knew Farrah was hot well before I understood why my pee-pee was getting all stiff inside my Underoos.
Maybe because I didn't understand the sex part, I never found Farrah as attractive as Jacklyn Smith or Cheryl Ladd, or Olivia Newton-John for that matter. I don't know if I understood it at the time, but I think she seemed both slutty and clueless, and that's a combination of qualities I've never found appealing. (Slutty and wise? Hell yeah. Clueless yet cuddly adorable? Hell yeah. Slutty and clueless? You've got to have a predatory glee in you to find that appealing, no?)
Unlike the King of Pop, I imagine Farrah had at least a small set of people who knew her. If there was anything there to know. Between her own drug issues and those of the people around her, you wonder how much she actually knew of herself, how much of her there was to know. Even as she's fighting for her life, she's trying to figure out how to use a camera to share her struggle with viewers via two-dimensional TV screens. She's playing the role of Farrah Fawcett Dying, the role of a lifetime.
Sure, there's minor exceptions. The oft-cited Bruce Springsteen seems to have held onto most of his humanity. Jon Bon Jovi (God help me for using him as an example) has convinced me in interviews that he's almost a normal person. Paul Newman somehow convinced everyone that he never got swept quite as deeply into the Fame Whirlpool as everyone else (but if you look at his history, a lot of it ain't pretty).
Fame at that level is like playing Russian Roulette with five bullets. And it's somehow a game far too many of us are dying to play.
That's what leaves me sad. I'm sad that our culture devours the very souls of the people we idolize. I'm sad we want to be devoured like that. And I'm said that we'll never really know -- or really, really care about -- either of these two dead stars on the walk of fame.
Live together, die alone