Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Farewell notes...

To say that I wish I would have woken up this morning to have yesterday been a bad dream is an understatement.  In fact, I kept waiting to wake up yesterday, hoping that this was some oddly realistic and extremely long dream, but it wasn't and Philip Seymour Hoffman is still dead and the countless updates to his passing keep appearing on the computer screen.  From bags of heroine to reports of odd behavior nights before to pictures of Cate Blanchett with tear streaked cheeks (seriously media, let these people grieve in peace), I can't get Hoffman out of my head.

As I'm sure you saw yesterday, I'm a mess over this and putting my thoughts down in a cohesive manner has been really hard for me.  I basically rambled yesterday and gave up.  Thankfully SO MANY beautiful posts have been dedicated to this man's legacy, and I just wanted to share some of my favorites.

Before I do, I want to say this.  Philip Seymour Hoffman has been one of my favorite actors for a very long time.  His range was marvelous, and his presence in any film was the one that made the largest impact.  Yes, I knew that he had personal problems, but that never shaded my perception of his work.  Much debate has been swarming all over the internet as to whether or not we should celebrate his legacy or shine a spotlight on his obvious drug addiction.  Should we disregard what he did to himself in his honor, or should we really try so hard to separate the profession from the personal life?  I personally find some of this talk degrading and inappropriate.  While I don't begrudge the conversation so much (we had this same reaction when Ledger died and last year with Cory Monteith as well), I take issue with certain bloggers taking this as a way to condemn him, to cry foul on the media for forgiving him so easily and or criticizing him in this time and hour.  

I have close family who suffers from addiction.  My sister, my baby sister, has been addicted to heroine for the last four years.  She is homeless, hasn't seen her two children in over a year and has OD'd three times.  Thankfully, she has not died yet, but her addiction is still very real and very prominent.  All this talk about 'how could Philip buy that much heroine knowing he has children at home', while an understandable argument, is obviously coming out of the mouths of people who don't understand addiction.  I can't even say that I understand it all that fully, since I myself am not addicted, and I can't lie and say that I haven't had the same frustrated anger at my sister for her disregard of her own children to feed her addiction, but addiction is VERY real, and people in that state can't separate their cravings from their common sense.

They lose their common sense.

As was reported last year, Hoffman noticed his addiction and sought out help, but like many people with addictive personalities, Hoffman needed more help than he received.

While I don't discourage conversation about the sad state of drug addiction (and we can't scoot around the fact that his death brings awareness to the fragility of life and the cautionary tale of thinking you can control your addiction on your own), I do believe that those things should be kept in their place.  Should we disregard his talent for the mere fact that he had a substance abuse problem?  I don't think so.  Should we revoke his Oscar because he may have been on heroine when he filmed 'Capote'?  Why?  These are separate avenues of life, and while the law is the law, art is art and the two should be seen through different colored lenses.

We don't need to condone his actions to celebrate his talent.

Anyways, I didn't plan on writing all this this morning, simply because I didn't really want to be part of that conversation, but it's been bugging me because for every 'we will miss you' post I see, I see another 'this man was a DRUG ADDICT' and it just makes me so angry.  

People feel that they can say anything they want through the disguise of a keyboard, and the truth of the matter is that they can, but should they?  That, for me, is the real question.

So, without further ado, here are some of the most moving 'dedications' I've read declaring their saddened hearts over the loss of a true legend:

Dana Stevens over at Slate writes a beautiful piece and actually mentions his drug abuse in the correct context, with the proper tone.

Ruth over at Flixchatter reminisces on what it was that made Hoffman's presence in film so great, and longs to see more (don't we all).

Sati over at Cinematic Corner covers Hoffman's career and touches upon the fact that, of all the working actors, he was the most consistent.  

I hate the word was.

Alex Bean over at The Addison Recorder writes up a touching tribute to Hoffman and notes how this is one of those celebrity deaths that stings a little more than usual.

And lastly, Ryan McNeil over at The Matinee brought me to tears with his open letter to Philip (these are the kinds of open letters I like to see) and pretty much sums up everything I was feeling yesterday, but couldn't put into words.


  1. Hi Andrew, thanks for the link. It's a testament to his phenomenal contribution to film when so many people give a tribute to him upon his passing. It's such a sad day for movie lovers... I plan on catching up on as many of his films as I can this year. He's sorely missed.

    Great write-up here, thank you.

    – ruth

    1. I completely agree with you. The outpouring of sadness over this loss really cements the imprint he made in cinema with just a few short years. This is still so hard to accept.

  2. Great post man. It's sad that some people can't mourn his loss without focusing on his personal problems. We all have our flaws, after all.

    Like Ruth, I'm going to catch up on some of his films I haven't seen yet. He was so talented, and we should celebrate that.

    1. Happiness was that one major blind spot for me, which is in the mail from Netflix now, so I'll be seeing that tomorrow.

  3. Thanks for the link sir. Not the sort of thing one ever wants to write, but I'm proud it right the right note for you and everyone else who has shared similar thoughts.

    1. Your letter was, in a word, beautiful.

  4. That was very thoughtful to share that about your sister, as it sometimes seems that only those close to problems like drug addiction can truly speak to it in the right manner.

    Personally, I think it is a waste of time to do anything other than celebrate the man's career or to have an honest conversation about addiction. Anything else is simply unnecessary.

    As I've been saying on other sites, PSH is certainly gone too soon, but as an actor, made the absolute most of what time he had.

    1. You hit the nail on the head! He made the absolute most of what time he had, and that is why this is so hard.

      And thank you. My sister's addiction has eaten a whole in my entire family's life, and like I said, there have been many moments when I had those same thoughts ("why doesn't she just WALK AWAY FROM IT") but it is never that easy, as I've come to see over the years.

      The fact that Philip was reaching out for help, was talking to close friends and confiding in them about wanting to stop but feeling out of his depth, only make thoughtless comments like "addiction is curable, so he should have stopped" all the more heartless and ridiculous.

      But let's celebrate his life, because he did so much good with it!

  5. Thanks for the link. I got some truly despicable comments on my tribute from some scum regarding Hoffman's death circumstances. The man is dead, that's it. All this talk and new details emerging is so disrespectful, especially considering how amazing artist he was and the fact no one can know for sure what drives people towards certain things..

    1. It's depressing what people chose to focus on at a time like this. Timing and tone have a lot to do with it. You want to talk about his drug use or whatnot, wait a few months at least! Have some respect and let people grieve! It's just so tactless.