Did you hear about Phillip Seymour Hoffman? That was the question on the lips – by which I mean screen-tapping digits – of the western world as news of the actors death emerged last weekend.
‘Tragic’, they mused. And indeed it was a tragedy that a 46-year-old man with a glittering Hollywood career lost his life to addiction.
But the gushing tributes which ensued – some celebs took to Twitter to hail ‘the greatest actor of our generation’ – have been so near to the top they’re almost over it.
From RIP hashtags, to unnecessary 1,200-word panegyrics on ‘What Hoffman Meant to Me’, or ‘I’m a Drug Addict Too!’. Everyone wanted to get in on the act.
When it fell to me to offer an outpouring of grief I crumbled.
I just couldn’t muster words of adulation. I didn’t see many Hoffman films. I made the mistake of labelling Capote a ‘bit of a vanity project’.
The comment went crashing down like many of us hope Richard Branson’s space mission will.
Had I taken to Twitter to express that honest opinion of a man I’ve never met, I’d have been attacked by an army of teenage trolls who ‘luvd him in da Hunga Games’ right now.
Am I alone in thinking our tributes to the dead are becoming increasingly tacky? If the dead were all as lovely and great as we make them out to be then there’d be a Nobel Peace Prize on every mantelpiece.
Whether done consciously or not, many ‘tributes’ are actually a means of making the death of another person about oneself. They take away from the true portrait of a person and leave behind a sickly, sentimental puddle of pretend tears.
When I die, I have but two requests. Number one: Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman blasting out of the speakers as my white marble coffin is carried along the aisle. Number two: tell it like it is/was. By which I mean do not put me up on a cliché-ridden pedestal.
My eulogy should be an accurate reflection of the person I am/was. I never lit up any room – I can’t even change a light bulb unaided.
Use the phrase ‘happy-go-lucky’ and I swear I’ll file a posthumous law suit for gross misrepresentation of character.
Aretha Franklin said it best. All I ask is for a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T when it comes to paying yours.