Speaking of lazy journalists, Paul Campos at LGM has a handy-dandy template for those who want to seem like they’re on top of the latest tragedy and make it sound like they’re a posting something worthy of Sunday Reading.
The [death, hospitalization, arrest, other misfortune] of [celebrity] is fueling renewed concern about a recent upsurge of [bad things], brought on by a new wave of [drug of the moment] users.
[Prominent drug warrior] warns that if [extremely expensive pet initiative featuring no data on potential effectiveness] is not adopted, “we could lose a whole generation” to [drug of the moment] addiction.
Indeed [various authority figures] are sounding the alarm that [drug of the moment], whose use many Americans believe is confined to [socially marginal deviants] is suddenly appearing/making a comeback among upper middle class white kids suburban youth, who are drawn to glamorous portrayals of [drug of the moment] addicts in films, music, and on the Internet.
[Credentialed expert] argues that new strains of [drug of the moment] are far more potent and dangerous than the versions of the drug which were previously available, when [readers of this story] were engaging in youthful experimentation with [drug of the moment], and that rapidly falling prices are making [drug of the moment] a tempting alternative to and even marijuana [ed. note: last three words of previous sentence not suitable for stories about marijuana].
I didn’t know Philip Seymour Hoffman, but I know people who did and who worked with him. Reading their recollections of his life and their friendship with him has been devastating, made all the worse by the moralizing, judging, and concern-trolling that has gone on since the news broke on Sunday. What makes it all the more maddening is that it has happened before: Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, or anyone else whose name and fame overshadowed their capacity for being treated as a human being in both life and death.
What I want to say to everyone who furrows their brow and tells us that there is a larger lesson in his or anyone’s untimely and — to them — avoidable death is to take and keep the lesson for yourself. Do not turn it into something more than the already unbearable loss that it is for his friends, colleagues, and family. Let them grieve in their own way and stop trying to show your moral superiority by telling us what it all means. Save it for your novel.