Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Carpetbagger interesting take on self interest and the sad passing of Heath Ledger

I've written often about how much I enjoy NYT's writer David Carr's journalism and Carpetbagger blog. This "Every Window a Mirror" is particularly interesting. It's about his unsuccessful attempt to get contextual quotes. It's a slant that hadn't occurred to me - that by friends and associates resisting to give a statement, that the story about Heath Ledger's sad passing would be just about the circumstances, rather than how he mattered in life. Really interesting to ponder yet I can't help but wonder, would this angle have been clear to Carr's sources? Wouldn't they just find his calls intrusive and insensitive? Were they deferring to avoid commenting on the sad, mysterious circumstances? Did they understand they could have spoken about his artistry and his life? Had they been misquoted too many times? Carr's conclusion weighs heavily regardless. Provocative and sad.


....It was a reminder to the Bagger that, for everybody in the Magic Kingdom, it’s always about them. A guy dies and they need publicists to fend off reporters because they are in their trailers coping or because they might say the wrong thing. The whole publicity apparatus kicked in as if this were an event to manage.

The Bagger made more than 20 calls, and in every case the response was some version of “tut-tut, much too raw, there-will-be-statements-in-the-future.” Maybe other reporters had better luck, but the firm no’s the Bagger got told him plenty. This young man of 28, had one shot at a textured story about his humanity and his gifts. As it is, he will show up in the papers as a guy in bed with pills strewn about. Going forward, the stories will all be ghoulish forensics.

When the Bagger was just getting started at the Times, a pal of his died. He felt honored to write the obit. There was some bawling and then some typing and then some more bawling. But after a death it is incumbent upon us to bring the dead to life, however briefly. And he can think of no other industry that would avoid the death of one of its own in quite the same way as this incessantly self-seeking, self-involved community that really is not one. Everyone will wait for the televised tribute when they can read off the prompter....

(complete post)

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