Heath Ledger, 28, was found dead in his apartment today. I am not interested in blogging celebrity news, but I have found reactions to this story interesting. Not necessarily good. Interesting. I found out when my youngest daughter called me at work. She was upset and wanted me to confirm whether Ledger was dead. Sounds a bit odd, I know, but I am known as a fount of all kinds of knowledge, much of it unimportant, and she really needed to know. I checked online and confirmed it.
I have found many of the reactions less than impressive. Gossip columnists have latched on, of course, and in 2008 all newscasters have become gossip columnists. How it works is that you report on someone's misbehaviour, seemingly to condemn it, but only seemingly. The real purpose is to revel in the details, the more salacious and inappropriate the better. Its not that you enjoy reporting it. No, you're condemning. Right? Actually, even better than salacious is unconfirmed. That allows the reporter to go off onto any tangent they please. Last week Brad Renfro was found dead. He had a long history of drug problems. Maybe he OD'ed. We don't know yet. Now another young actor suddenly dies. Did he OD? All we do know is that his housekeeper found him unconscious. He did have a prescription for sleeping pills, but whether that played any role is purely speculative.
The comic boards are extremely busy with this news. Newsarama was all but down this afternoon. Warren Ellis posted on the death in his email journal. He came across as though he were a TMZ staffer (and quoted the site as a source). At Newsarama moderator Matt Brady had to intervene to clean up some comments. Not the best day for comic fans. And when so many were looking. The reason we'd take an interest in Ledger is that he is playing the Joker in the new Batman movie Dark Knight:
He leaves behind a two year old daughter.
NOTE: This morning (Jan 23) Ellis wrote "As an interesting aside to the drama yesterday -- for which I should apologise, I just have a hair trigger for that kind of thing (and also for spin and crocodile tears) and don't always take the time to level out before becoming Mr Shouty..."