Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Heath Ledger is no Rebel; Will he have a Cause?

Heath Ledger died tragically last week at the age of 28. Does this give him "immortal" status? Is he this generation's James Dean?

Consider the wisdom of wikipedia (remember Michael Scott said that "Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information."):

As with Buddy Holly, Bruce Lee, Marilyn Monroe And Heath Ledger his death at a young age helped guarantee a legendary status.
Consider, too, the statistics...

James De
  • Starred in surprisingly few films (3)
  • 2 Oscar nominations
  • Hunky in a sexually ambivalent sort of way
  • Died in his twenties
  • Looked damn good in a cowboy hat
  • Icon

  • Starred in surprisingly few films (19)
  • 1 Oscar nomination
  • Hunky in a sexually ambivalent sort of way
  • Died in his twenties
  • Looked damn good (to Jake Gyllenhaal) in a cowboy hat
  • Icon?????

Within that final bullet point lies the question. Will Heath Ledger achieve "icon" status? In the accelerated age of the Internet , will the ever present media coverage change the way cult figures take their shape? Chris Epting, author of James Dean Died Here, thinks Heath Ledger is the litmus test:
"Heath Ledger is one of the first Dean-esqe people to die in the Internet age, so his death will be the testing ground to see how long the Net will fan the flame. It will be interesting to see: Will he be immortalized or will the next big thing totally supplant him in a couple of weeks?"
Why would the internet culture cause Heath to not fall in alongslide Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, Jim Morrison, John Belushi, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, and Tupac Shakur, to name a few?
"There's something mystical, some magic about them because (pre-Internet) not everyone knew everything about them when they were alive," says Lynn Bartholome of Monroe Community College
Already the swirling media will be putting this theory to the test. There are already reports of a purported Heath Ledger tape to be aired tonight on Entertainment Tonight:
According to Perez Hilton, Entertainment Tonight has exclusively obtained a video of Heath Ledger doing drugs. The tables at the party are filled with drugs, one person who has seen the tape tells us. Ledger also talks about his drug use and other not so pretty things are seen. “I used to smoke five joints a day,” Heath reveals. And that’s not the only thing. It’s being reported that Ledger also battled addiction to heroin, cocaine, alcohol and prescription pills.
The question remains: Icon or no?

Ironically, in this age of immediate media, only time will tell if Heath Ledger will be the next James Dean or the next William Hung. We already know that "he bangs..."

[USA Today]

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