For those who care deeply about celebrities, no matter how “has been,” the bloom was taken off Christmas this year with the one-two loss of singer George Michael on Christmas Day and actress Carrie Fisher just hours ago as I write this.
Here is one of Carrie Fisher’s final TV interviews, only taped weeks ago.
A few observations. First, the fawning interviewer can’t stop gushing about how glad she is that Ms. Fisher committed adultery with Harrison Ford during their time together shooting the first Star Wars. The tawdry story was duly covered in Vanity Fair, which began its November 21 story by letting us know that, “Carrie Fisher titillated Star Wars fans far and wide after excerpts from her new memoir, The Princess Diarist, revealed what they’d suspected for years.”
Titillated. By the revelation that a 33-year-old married father of two had an affair with a 19-year-old girl. What do you expect from a rag devoted to vanity?
Ms. Fisher once told an interviewer, “I love the idea of God, but it’s not stylistically in keeping with the way I function.”
At least she’s honest. In life, the fundamental choice comes down to whether we subject truth to desire, or vice versa. Apparently her way of functioning didn’t come with caring about the pain that such an attention-grabbing admission would cause Ford’s children.
This is not in any way meant to speak ill of the dead, and we do well to remember the souls of all the departed, not just the faithful ones, in our prayers. The fact is, though, that we assign to our icons the status of truth-tellers. We give weight to their wonderings. We endow them with extra specialness, and we mull over their maxims: adultery is fun; drugs are harmless; marriage is temporary arrangement subject to a better one presenting itself; you can break the rules because you made the rules; sin doesn’t exist; God doesn’t exist; mercy doesn’t exist; only The Self and its mad clutching exists.
And then there is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, better known as singer George Michael. His sad demise followed a slow trajectory that is not terribly different from Ms. Fisher’s. Both struggled with depression. Both were addicts who came from painful father-child origins. And…both enjoyed heaping platefuls of what this passing world offers. None of it was enough to stave off the stare of the abyss.
George Michael, of course, one of the first major stars to “come out as gay” (more like forced out after he was caught engaging “in a lewd act,” as the papers put it, with another man in a public toilet in 1998) enjoyed the world’s adulation decades after his music career had faded. Insiders say he was taking heroin in his last days, and died alone on Christmas morning. That such a stellar talent would end up there. It’s hard to take in.
Celebs are our secularist culture’s substitute saints. Their passing propels them into the Immortal Legend Club, the infinitely thin eternity set aside for deceased stars. Note the word star. A heavenly object. The Bible frequently refers to stars as “the heavens.”
RIP Carrie Fisher, and George Michael. May angels take you past the heavens, all the way Home.