by Adam Riske
After the Facebook messages have been posted and the initial shocked tweets have been sent, it becomes time to schedule a death marathon as your tribute to a fallen celebrity. Many people, including myself, are scheduling theirs for Robin Williams and/or Lauren Bacall this week.
The concept of a death marathon is equally flattering and morbid. The recently deceased gets full focus; details of their performances get viewed in a state of full alertness and are appreciated in ways they were not when the performer was still alive. Are we doing this as movie fans to make sense of the deaths that we feel are senseless (drug abuse, suicide) or are we doing this because it’s our way of admiring what we have lost after it’s already too late?
Dead Poets Society or The Fisher King, which I plan to rectify quickly.
How would Robin Williams feel about me having a death marathon for him? I think he would appreciate it, if not outright enjoy it. Entertainers want audiences to see and enjoy their work. No one wants to play to an empty crowd. They want us to see a piece of their filmography, gush over it and then have the desire enough to keep going to the next movie. Everyone wants fans.
My gesture is sincere – I want to feel closer to someone I’ve never met but who made me feel something – whether it’s joy, sadness, empathy or all of the above. It’s just morbid that we usually don’t think of doing this while the artists are alive. It’s not wrong; we all just have lots on our minds. We can’t pay attention to all things, all the time. Death gives movie fans direction.
Movies are a miracle. I love them. They are signposts for the feelings and attitudes of the 20th century. They will live forever. The performers in those movies will as well. They are immortal. A death marathon is a toast to immortality. The admission is only that you have to encourage the next guy to run the race.