The Integrity of the Media – Or How Did Heath Ledger Die?

mini-heath_gallery.jpgI was shocked when a friend called to tell me Heath Ledger was dead Tuesday morning. It’s one of those deaths that feels close for some reason. His Australian-ness is likely one reason, but I think there’s some sort of relatability involved.

I was more upset by what I saw on CNN when I tried to see what had happened. Talking head after talking head was mangling the same quotes, sharing groundless hypotheses, and contradicting the last “expert”. What started as a certain suicide has now turned into a probable accident. Who takes responsibility for the slurs?

  • I heard that he was “surrounded” by pills, which turned into “many bottles” of pills, to six bottles of pills that were all nearly full with their caps on in the bathroom cabinet.
  • I heard he was living the fast life. Then that he lived a quiet life under the radar; that the only photos you ever saw in the media were him eating dinner or out for a walk during the day.
  • I heard that he was heavily into alcohol and drugs. Then that story disappeared as the accidental death appeared to be true.
  • I saw a procession of actors pressed to comment. Many of them didn’t even know him. I heard quotes of, “I saw him in Brokeback Mountain and he was good.” I could have given them a quote like that. Why are B-list celebrities experts on Heath Ledger?
  • I saw an anchor on CNN’s Showbiz Tonight saying he hoped other actors would follow Heath’s example of acting for the art of it, rather than the fame. Does anyone else see the contradiction there?

I’m saddened by this death. I’m saddened that there appears to be no news channel to watch for news.

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5 Responses to The Integrity of the Media – Or How Did Heath Ledger Die?

  1. Lou January 24, 2008 at 9:39 am #

    This is pretty much the only thing i’ve read that makes sense to me.
    Its really sickening reading and watching the media make contradivtion after contradtiction. They are only adding to the pain of those who loved and knew him closely. Can they not wait a few weeks for the facts to be established instead of swooping like vultures on any insubstantiated rumours that come there way. It’s so irresponsible, unkind and in essence lazy journalism.

  2. Matt Langdon January 24, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    Thanks Lou. Irresponsible and lazy are two words I wish I’d used.

  3. Adam Resh January 24, 2008 at 4:46 pm #

    I was also pretty shook when I heard about his death. I can’t say I have been a fan of his during his “10 things I hate about you days” but recently I saw “A Knights Tale” and other movies he was in mostly because of my excitement for the new batman movie he is going to be in. When I first heard about it the response I got when I asked what happened was “he overdosed on drugs.” At first when I read on it made things sound worse like you said from people saying he was a drug addict or whatever. But as I went on I realize that wasn’t really the case. Although people have been showing interviews showing the way he acts people thought he was on drugs from being fidgety and easily distracted and so people blamed drugs. What I learned as I read more about him, every time he takes on a role he has trouble sleeping and he said he sleeps a good 2 hours a night while doing a film. Which in turn went to the sleeping pills. Which I believe was confirmed he died from, and the 20 dollar bill they found by him that was rolled up and people assumed he snorted drugs with, came back clean with no sign of drugs. So I would like someone to take all the jerks who mock him now even that he is dead like John Gibson. If you don’t know what I mean, I suggest you look it up. So where I am at now on the whole situation, it was an accident, overdose yes, drug addict no.

  4. Katie January 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm #

    The behavior of the press only proves to me how justified Heath Ledger was to be wary of them and fame itself. They have denied him any possibility of death with dignity by treating him as a spectacle to make money rather than a human being. I hope some celebrities who have the voice to do so will call them out.

  5. blab January 26, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    When you become an actor, you make a conscious choice to be scrutinized by the circus of the media. Most famous celebs, such as Heath was, take it on the chin when they see the daily scandalous lies in the tabloids; however, in the case of a celeb’s untimely and tragic death, such as this, the people bearing the brunt of the media’s lies are the innocent family members and close friends. They “didn’t sign up for this.” Very tragic and unfair.