So it is a delayed reaction sort of week. Maybe that is a good thing, because I honestly do not think I could have added to the discussion in any meaningful way before today. Earlier in the week all I could add to the news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death was a few platitudes about how he would be missed and how cruel our society could be about addiction. Maybe I could have written about how it is treated differently depending on your station or the color of your skin, and I suppose I will do some of that today, but I would not be saying anything new. Thankfully the police gave me something to write about.
It has been revealed that four people have been arrested in connection with Mr. Hoffman’s death. I suppose we have to blame someone. It would be cruel to his family and to the memory of the man to blame him for a sickness, and we certainly cannot condemn a society that views all mental illness, including addiction, as a moral family. Goodness no, we could never do that. Still, that particular injustice is not what I want to rant about.
No, I want to rant about the thousands of people every year who die overdoses, whose deaths are treated as strictly a failing on their part. How many are lost to their demons with nary an eyebrow raised, but instead a stern voice, a voice not unlike the nattering of Jared Padelecki (whom I suppose was riding on the high of the praise he earned for quite justifiably calling out Beliebers,) a voice accusing the dead and not the system that made that made it impossible to seek help without shaming oneself.
I want to rant about how this one man is raised above so many (and keep in mind I loved his art, and he never gave me reason to think he was a bad person) who are forgotten. His fame affords his family the luxury, hard as it is to call it that in light of what they are suffering, of finding someone to scold, to blame for their loved one’s sickness. It affords the rest of us one last spectacle at his expense to see those who took advantage of his sickness raked over the coals. There is a justice, of sorts, for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but not for the thousands of others who waste in worn down tenements, in trailer parks, or in not-quite-affluent enough suburbs.
I hold no malice in my heart for Mr. Hoffman. He, and those who loved him, ARE victims. They are not the victims of a few drug dealers, however, but of a culture that treats the sick like monsters and would rather be entertained than educated. In his death, quite against his will, he gives us one more show, because the show must go on. The media insists on it, those who benefit from our broken system insist on it, and finally, and oh so sadly, we insist on it. There will be no show for those others, however, just a few words each time someone famous falls this way. A few words that will be forgotten until the next time, but maybe that is the best we can do.