Heath Ledger

Reactions and thoughts keep cropping up in the aftermath of Heath Ledger's passing. I've spoken to at least 5 different people yesterday and all of us agree : we miss that guy. It's stupid, childish and even a bit creepy to say something like that about someone you don't even remotely know, but for some odd reason ... Ledger really spoke to us. That's a figure of speech, mind you. Meaning "we could relate to his work".

But the why? question doesn't get answered. And I don't mean why did he die?, I'm talking about why does Heath Ledger's abrupt death affect us more than any celebrity death before?. My opinion? Because he was a fine, good actor. I don't want to be cruel, but when a certain party animal or noted drug addict from Hollywood dies ... well, let's say I only feel bad for his or her close family. In most cases, it's not a loss for the movie/music/etc industry.

But Heath was one of the few under the age of 30 that could grab you by the throat and get under your thumb, eh, I mean skin. He couldn't match the likes of Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins or Morgan Freeman, but he was racing towards an impressive resumé. Speaking of these veteran actors : the Batman Dark Knight trailer with extensive Ledger brilliance, finally convinced even the most cynical Batman fan that Heath could pull off a convincing Joker. I as well raised more than two eyebrows (I do have more than two) when I first heard of him being cast. But now? Be afraid, Nicholson, be very afraid. Your days as "best incarnation of The Joker" are numbered.

One friend of mine agreed with my theory (him being an actual loss for the movie bizz), another one didn't. She said : "No, we just think it's strange, because it's the first death that we know that has such an impact." It came down to : every generation has a defining casualty. Well, some generations have more than one (the 70's saw the passing of Jimi, Janis, Elvis etc.) "Heath" is to us what "River" or "Kurt" was for the early 90's kids. We were too young to grasp the collective mourning that struck the youth.

My dad was devastated when Presley died on that unfateful 16 August, but that was understandable. My father had all the records! Presley was his favourite recording artist. I, for one, don't have any Heath Ledger movie on VHS, LaserDisc or DVD. I have never read the tabloids to find out what he was up to. I've only seen 4 of his movies. And still, his death touched me. Weird.

Julian, 24 January 2008