Every media outlet I came across reported that Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose.
It is indeed a loss of a fine actor, and it is sad when anyone succumbs to addiction and worse when the addiction wins.
I read many comments about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death and it got me thinking about how people frame addiction. I’ve heard people talk about being saddened for the loss of the actor, that we will miss out on great future performances. Some people say they don’t feel sorry for famous people who die of overdoses – as if they deserved it. Those folks accuse the famous of being selfish. So on one hand, we grieve the loss of their talent and on the other hand we condemn them as if they had any control over their addiction, this terrible disease. We objectify the famous person as not more than their talent and get angry at them for not giving it to us. I think that perhaps it is we who are selfish.
“He was so talented and had everything and threw it all away.”
That’s not how addiction works.
Just because someone is talented and from the outside appears to be doing well in their relationships and financially does not mean they do not suffer from demons. Addiction is cross-cultural, and doesn’t care about class or talent or intelligence.
“Some pour so much emotion into their craft. Seems at times it comes with an expense.”
This assumes a lot about the actor or artist. (I recall a Laurence Olivier quote my dad used to like telling me, ‘upon seeing Dustin Hoffman`s “method” acting technique of not sleeping and making a mess of himself to get into character while shooting Marathon Man (1976)’
“Dear boy, it`s called acting.”
Everything risky has a potential dire consequence. Hell, living has dire consequences.
We hear about the few famous people who die of overdoses, but we don’t hear
about the multitudes of middle-class, poor, or homeless that die everyday from overdoses. I’d change it to, “Being human can come at such an expense.”
And I would wager that the numbers of not-famous people dying of O.D.s is far larger than famous people.
“Money doesn’t buy happiness.”
No, but I am happy when I don’t have money stress. Money can buy food and shelter.
Last night, an astute friend remarked that “Death is happiness for some”
Some people are locked in a cage. Dying releases them from that cage.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had talent, family, money, but he, like a terrifying number of people, was locked in a cage.