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Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Heath Ledger Feedback

posted by on January 24 at 10:05 AM

After yesterday’s ridiculous bullshit, today brings a heroic burst of sanity from MSNBC’s Dan Abrams:

Further Ledger-related eloquence comes from Slate’s Dana Stevens:

[T]hen there’s Brokeback Mountain, a movie in which Ledger belongs so completely that, in the end, the movie belongs to him. That’s not to discount Jake Gyllenhaal’s fine performance as the volatile, openly needy Jack Twist. But it’s the recalcitrance of Ennis Del Mar, Ledger’s more deeply closeted cowboy, that drives the story forward. Brokeback Mountain isn’t just about the impossibility of two men loving each other; it’s about the impossibility of anyone loving this particular man. Not only Jack Twist, but Ennis’ wife (Michelle Williams, who fell in love with Ledger during the filming) and a dime-a-dance bar girl (Linda Cardellini) all hack away unsuccessfully at Ennis’ shell. I remember, when Brokeback came out, two friends telling me separately that the flinty, secretly tender, intermittently rageful Ennis reminded them painfully of their own shut-down fathers. An impressive achievement for an actor who was 26 at the time.

Agreed. What Ledger accomplished in Brokeback Mountain is exactly why his death affects me in a way that, say, Brad Renfro’s didn’t. Brokeback director Ang Lee concurs:

“Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life,” Lee said in a statement released to “He brought to the role of Ennis more than any of us could have imagined…His death is heartbreaking.”

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I have been at a loss since I heard about Ledger's... and Lee nailed it "heartbreaking".

talent, curiosity, and courage to take on a role like Ennis. And he has a daughter. fuck.....

Posted by Erin | January 24, 2008 10:13 AM

The scene toward the end of the movie, when Ennis visits the late Jack's family, has a restraint and quietness - the scene is really almost silent - that is astounding.

Posted by Bill | January 24, 2008 10:23 AM

I really liked that Ang Lee quote because it seemed so genuine and heartfelt. I wish we could stop with the canned quotes. Wow, you're 'saddened' or you're 'shocked and dismayed' or your 'thoughts go out to the family'. The Ang Lee quote makes me think that Ledger was really quite an actor. I wish I could have enjoyed that performance without having to suffer through 6 months of lame, late night homophobic jokes.

Posted by left coast | January 24, 2008 10:29 AM

I openly mocked Jerry Falwell's death and I don't feel a bit of remorse for doing so but does that mean that I can't get too angry about this?

I feel bad for the family but all these assholes are showing themselves as such so in a way they are doing us a favor.

Posted by monkey | January 24, 2008 10:39 AM

I thought the same thing at first. Then I remembered, Heath Ledger never said god killed people who disobeyed god's word.

Posted by heywhatsit | January 24, 2008 10:44 AM

I'm usually indifferent to celebrity deaths, but Ledger's death got me down, and I couldn't figure out why. I think this is a big reason. It wasn't just talent, his role as Ennis in Brokeback had an eerie truth you couldn't ignore. I feel like we're all poorer because we can't see him do that again.

Posted by steve | January 24, 2008 11:25 AM

wow. go abrams. i never really watch the network news, but maybe i'll check in on his show every once in a while.

Posted by konstantConsumer | January 24, 2008 11:39 AM

If folks weren't so hung up on Brokeback as a gay film, they'd realize that the role is simply one of the most vulnerable male characters we've seen in cinema close to mainstream in a very long time. James Dean in East of Eden comes to mind. Brando in On the Waterfront does to.
I don't think Ledger was the caliber of a Dean or a Brando, but he was willing to take on rolls like this that are risky. I'm reminded of Peter Sellers comments after making Being There, that in building the character he himself became so terribly depressed that he almost lost his will to live.
The silver lining if there is any is that he left a beautiful corpse, and that he never sullied his professional image by ever acting in a film with Tom Cruise.

Posted by kinaidos | January 24, 2008 11:46 AM


Heath is so yesterday people..

Time to move on...

Only the tabloids and shock/entertainment TV are still trying to keep it on the public's radar for ratings...

You all are just contributing to that nonsense.

Can we take odds on who/when the next "so-called celebrity" will do something more stupid or shocking to take our focus off this one?

Posted by Reality Check | January 24, 2008 11:57 AM

Reality Check: Excuse me, but fuck you. The back-n-forth editorializing on Ledger's death is far from nonsense--it's showing just how deep American homophobia runs, and just how fed up of it people are.

But thanks for trolling. Consider it a success, I guess.

Posted by David Schmader | January 24, 2008 12:02 PM


The back-n-forth editorializing shows that people pushing the gay agenda want to keep the story in the limelight to further talking about someone who held a torch for them.

It is nonsense. Just because I'm tired of hearing about it doesn't make me homophobic. I just don't want to give his life or cause of death any more weight than it deserves in greater context of World/National/Local stories.

It's only trolling if it doesn't fit your agenda I guess. Just because I have an opinion that differs from yours I'm a troll...


Posted by Reality Check | January 24, 2008 12:11 PM

You think my thoughts and feelings are stupid, I think your thoughts and feelings are stupid. Let's call it even.

Posted by David Schmader | January 24, 2008 12:17 PM

I should probably get around to seeing Brokeback Mountain -- otherwise, the only decent performance I think I've seen Heath give is his quick almost cameo in Monster's Ball. He was passable in The Patriot, I guess, but that movie was pretty awful.

Honestly, all the effusive praise for his stellar talent seems way overdone at this point, like mourning a B or C list actor as a visionary, but maybe that's because I haven't seen what everyone says his one good role was, yet.

Posted by sad but losing interest | January 24, 2008 12:22 PM

I'm glad the religious fucks aren't totally getting away with their douchebagerry .

They hate him because what he did in Brokeback was so damned powerful. It was such a beautiful performance, in many ways. As others have said, I'm not generally particularly moved by the death of an actor, but. . .I'm SO sad that we are missing out on more wonderful work from Ledger.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | January 24, 2008 12:22 PM

How does Dan Abrams continue to look younger and cuter each year?

Posted by raindrop | January 24, 2008 12:23 PM

dude was on a ton of coke, probably heroin too if Jack Nickolson's "I warned him" comment means what i think it does. actors act. big fucking deal. another extremely rich, self absorbed drug addict has died. BREAKING NEWS! if he hadn't played a gay role, would any of you care?

i guess he didn't really care about his daughter that much did he?

Posted by crusty | January 24, 2008 12:44 PM

In post post-modern parlance, I'm way more fucked up about than I show. What a beautiful young actor he was.

Posted by Bauhaus | January 24, 2008 12:50 PM

Crusty: True, Ledger's death is a tragedy for his daughter. But do you really think the admiration for the actor comes entirely from his playing a "gay role"?

By this calculation, comparables level of admiration and emotion will greet the death of Kevin James.

Posted by David Schmader | January 24, 2008 12:55 PM

@ #11... and yet, here you are.

Posted by monkey | January 24, 2008 12:59 PM

the negative comments about heath are upsetting, and do show the painful bigots that still divides our nation.

that said, i thought the general consensus was that brokeback mountain was a silly story? i mean, i liked it. but i read many posts here about laughter in the theatre because it was so unrealistic, no? eh, i still think it was a great performance.

Posted by infrequent | January 24, 2008 1:10 PM


You claim not to be a homophobe and then go and use the term "gay agenda." Nice try.

Posted by keshmeshi | January 24, 2008 1:35 PM

no, i don't think this is 100% because he played a gay role. i do think your interest is largely due to his role in Brokeback Mountain. my point is, he's just another extremely rich, selfish celebrity who OD'd. he said he cared about his daughter and wanted to change but that's bullshit. he wanted to do tons of coke more than he wanted to be with his daughter. that's pretty clear. i'm not going to feel bad for any rich actor/celeb who finally dies due to extreme drug abuse.

Posted by crusty | January 24, 2008 1:39 PM

@ 21

So using the word "agenda" makes me a homophobe? Really? Is that all it takes?

One can be opposed to an agenda and still support the issue keshmeshi. The agenda is merely the way it is carried out... not the issue itsself.

I'm tired of anyone who will take an event, object or person and give an issue negative or over- exposure by the way in which it is handled.

Hell the media is continually reporting on the story not because the issue has extraordinary merit, rather that the media has nothing better to gossip about and it has controversial overtones to the gay community. Both sides see the issue as a lightening rod to fire up the other side. Hence they are using Heath's deatj as a platform to project a message.

Enough already. Let the man and his family have some privacy during their time of loss....

Posted by Reality Check | January 24, 2008 3:41 PM

A straight friend asked me to explain “Ledger-de-Mania” and why Heath’s death is “different” say from Brad Renfro’s or River Phoenix’s – or for that matter anyone else who dies before his time – and that would be all of us.

It's about what you bring to the table. Yes, there are many who mourn his death more than they would grieve the demise of Paris or Britney. People mourn for the 'what might have been' syndrome as exemplified by James Dean’s premature departure.

Ledger-de-Mania is also about the loss of Ennis Del Mar. How far-fetched that sounds – mourning a fictional character, but “Brokeback Mountain” had an enormous impact upon countless gay men who were (and some still are) constrained to lead double lives. And the pain of that duplicity was uncannily delivered by Heath via velvet hammer acting. I’ve ascertained that many younger gays felt little or no emotional connection to "Brokeback" because so many of them have been able to live openly gay lives compared to those of us who came of age (but not necessarily out) in the '50s and '60s. Consequently – in some quarters – “Brokeback” was dismissed as an over-wrought movie about butt-fucking cowboys. Crash!

And yes, some of us mourn Heath because he was hot, young, talented. Now he’s DYK, erased from our ‘wishful-thinking’ blackboard. But we still got Jack Twist…at least until spoons wither.

Moira Macdonald at The Seattle Times explains Ledger-de-Mania her way:

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | January 24, 2008 4:01 PM

I was completely untouched by Brokeback Mountain because, as my late partner commented, "You know, it was an OK movie, but we lived through Making Love and all of those other movies, so we've already been through this fire once. I don't understand the fuss."

I can see where the younger folks would be touched by it, but we weren't.

I was, however, floored by Jake Gyllenhaal's gorgeousness. I can see how a cowboy could fall for him.

Posted by Wolf | January 24, 2008 4:10 PM

I have the Brokeback Mountain dvd and it is a very good movie. But Ledger would have gone on to do more memorable movies I'm sure. Anyone could get into trouble with drugs. Anyone can take it too far and over dose. That's where we are the same as any entertainer. It's the feeling of humanity and regret that makes people sorry for the loss of a young person...and he played the JOKER. To me, right now, he's the coolest actor in the world.

Posted by thejokerlives | January 24, 2008 5:55 PM

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