We Are Tragedy Vampires: Paul Walker, Death, and Celebrity Worship
Let me preface this by saying anytime anyone dies, especially younger than expected, it is a tragedy. This article is not written to undermine the loss anyone feels regarding the tragic and untimely passing of actor Paul Walker. My genuine sympathies go out to the Walker family in these trying times. It should be said, there was also someone else in the car, though. Someone no one is even acknowledging. The driver, actually. But you wont hear anything about that because the person driving was not a “celebrity” by our ridiculous standards. By the way, his name was Roger Rodas, but don’t expect hear much about him. That, my friends and REMlins, is exactly what is making me write this piece. Because judging from social media, apparently everyone on Earth was a huge Paul Walker fan. Odd, though, considering none of these people had said a word about the actor in the last half-decade. But please, allow me to ask. Do you know how many of your friends lost relatives this week? Do you know of any volunteers who work at soup kitchens for free on the weekends that may have passed away in the last few days? I ask because no one is talking about any of that. Nope. The only person who died this weekend was Paul Walker, in all the world. Wait, I’m wrong? Well, looking at Twitter and Facebook and countless other sites, you could have fooled me. The question I am posing here is, why is his death any more important than the countless other people who passed in the last seventy-two hours? Oh, he was in the movies? Sorry, I still don’t get why that makes him any more important.
The thing is, I am not being a dick just to be a dick. I just REALLY don’t get it. This may seem odd coming from someone who makes a living talking about pop culture and film. But understand, I get paid to talk about this stuff. In a way, it’s my job to wax about incidents like this. But what about everyone else? What about the hundreds of Facebook posts about how young and cool Paul Walker was, and how this shouldn’t have happened? Don’t you see what it is? It is that very same aspect of craning your neck to look at a car wreck on the road (bad example, for obvious reasons). I have said it before and will say it again (probably here), we, as a culture, are accident and tragedy vampires. We seek it out and try to sink our fangs into it so we can be a part of it in some way. I will be the first one to say, if any of those Facebook posts had come from people who were always extolling about how brilliant Paul Walker was, than I would not be bothered. I, personally, think his movie Running Scared is fucking brilliant, and if you see one thing he did, you need to see that film.
But, I brought it up, and like three people had seen it. See, as much as we are all talking of the tragedy, we are talking about it because we are conditioned to do just that. But why all the fake sympathy? Why the adulation? Reality is, right now, all the world is acting like this.
To mourn is fine, but to falsely mourn and to idolize is wrong. It really is. It honestly benefits no one. I bet the last thing any of Paul Walker’s family and friends want is assholes like me talking about this. I can see that. I wish them some peace and quite as well, but remember, actors and actresses are the new golden gods. Stuff like this PROVES that. They stand on the Mount Olympus that is the Hollywood Hills, and they just stand there, beaming down on us like the sun. Why? Because we lift them up there and ask them to.
So do you know why that we allow and encourage that as a society? I can tell you why. I have written about it countless times, and will undoubtedly write about it again. We are a celebrity obsessed society who likes to think that mentioning something on a website makes us part of the cause or somehow makes us more relevant. Where once stood revolutionaries, now stands the laptop jockey. The people who think ten likes on a comment equal the catalyst for social change. My thing is, are you mourning the right things? I think not. Yes, we should mourn the passing of someone anytime tragedy strikes, but when 1/4 of your “friends” are posting video clips and tweets about how tragic this all is, I have to ask, what do they think about this:
What do you think about that? Seven fucking people died the day after Thanksgiving, due to Black Friday bullshit. Seven.
Oh, she’s not an actress so no one is talking about the old lady who was damn near trampled to death on film. Wait, it’s caught on film. Does THAT make her famous now? No, seriously, I am asking?
Now think how many people branch off from those seven who died on Black Friday. Family, friends, co-workers. Now I want you to think about your Facebook wall. Do you think maybe, one of the HUNDREDS of people affected by the loss of those seven might just be one of your friends, or even a friend of a friend? Imagine how big it must make them feel to read about a celebrity who died and is suddenly looked at as some martyr for young Hollywood? THAT is exactly what I am talking about. I mean, really, can ANY of you tell me anything about Paul Walker? I mean, anything other than the movies he has made? So why the sudden interest? Well, it seems the world has to notice when it lifts someone on a pedestal so high, that they are bound to break when they finally fall off it, proverbially or otherwise.
Now I know, this death was awful, and he and his friend suffered an ending you would not wish on an enemy, but this leads me to my final jarring point.
How about we take a moment to talk about the first person on the scene?
Yeah, the guy who decided to film the flaming wreck with the people alive inside instead of, you know, calling the cops or trying to break the window and help them? No, no, need to get that on social media ASAP so it goes viral, huh? Guess what, it did. The fucking disgusting video is all over my Facebook wall. The thing is, no one seems too upset that the guy filmed and posted it, rather than helping try to save these people. See, we have become passive fucking vampires, and honestly, it is sickening. By the way, I REFUSE to link that video, so look it up on Google if you are into snuff.
But I think that single act of filming it and not helping really sums us up as a people right now, perfectly. We are all separated by a wall of technology and a need to go viral. We act like we care and want to help, but first chance we get, we film rather than stop and save lives. Passive tragedy vampires and narcissists, the lot of us. What used to be the jobs of the paparazzi has now become the unofficial job of everyone. Catch it on tape. Don’t help. Don’t stop said act, just make sure you film and post it. Get the exclusive.
Don’t even worry the toll it might take on your soul. We have collectively proven we no longer have one of those. R.I.P Paul Walker, and our souls.