I read the news today, oh boy. About a child actor who overdosed.
Ok, the Beatles version is better. I’m sort of torn over whether or not I should be sad about the death of Corey Haim. I mean on one hand, he was Corey Haim, and aside from a couple of years in the mid, to late, eighties, that doesn’t amount to much. I mean, the Corey duo were entertaining, in that sort of Odd Couple kind of way, but I can’t really thank either of them for any of the movies they brought us. I was, and am to this day, a huge fan of The Lost Boys, but I can’t necessarily thank either Corey for that, any more than I can thank Kiefer Sutherland. Still, he was in it, I liked it, he’s dead, and I guess that makes ME sad. So, here, today, you can bear witness to the entirety of MY process of grieving.
There. All done.
So, anyhoo…after MY post yesterday, which I think I wrote in about twenty minutes, sprinting through the blog like a naked twelve-year old on fire, MY publisher asked the most important–and most often asked–question anyone could have asked of ME:
“Who the hell are you?”
Which was oddly timed, as I had been thinking of that question just moments before. Not the question of who the hell I am, as I’ve long since given up on answering that (for fear of actually finding the answer, if I must be honest), but rather in an entirely separate context. It seems that this question, or variance of it to any degree, is the default introduction into a probe of an individual’s personal convictions. “What are you?” tends to precede greater questions of faith, politics, sexual orientation, and wizarding capabilities, in an attempt to frame a reference–a label–that the inquisitor can relate to. You can’t simply respond with, “Why, I’m nobody,” or, “I’m six-feet of seaweed in an ocean of autistic minnows,” as the reply lacks either functional definition, or a basis in sane reasoning. In most cases, should we feel that any reply might offset the delicate balance of conversation moving forward, we digress into a non-answer, a deflection, a rambling that so twists itself around its neck, that the entire conversation is choked off, and dies. I wa reminded of this the other day, when the owner of a business was telling me about a local news crew that had showed up earlier that day, in order to interview some of his patrons, who were well-known for their political rantings. Needless to say, once the cameras were turned on, their opinions–their defining beliefs–switched off. Instead of espousing their heartened beliefs, they deflected, and digressed, and dismissed. Why? Because they forgot them? No, because they knew that they were about to exposed on the local news for the people they intrinsically were. Their friends, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, preachers, therapists, and dogs would see them for what they truly were, and they would never be able to hide from it thereafter. They would be labeled, and unable to bend from their position.
Of course, they could have just been terrified.
I despise labels. I am constantly asked, “what are you?” at book events. It seems a preposterous question. “I’m an alien! Do Not Run, I Am Your Friend!” (of course, at least one of my sibling would certainly agree with that) It seems that, in order to continue conversing on religion, there needs to be a frame of reference. If I say that I am a Baptist, then all further answers I offer are based in comparison to that line of faith. Deviate from the scripted path of the Baptist, in any fashion, and I stand as a potential hypocrite. Much the same for politics. If I say that I am a Republican, or if I say that I am a Democrat, then I must believe in a certain philosophy, or support specific policies. Deviate, and I’m a Mugwump. Adhere strictly to the law on that side of the fence, and I’m an unwavering, uncompromising doo-doo head (ah, to be four again). There is no flexibility of thought, and no possibility of acknowledging fault, or flaw, in that line of reasoning. To do so would be an abandonment of my, “core beliefs”, because of who I profess to be–who I am labeled as.
Label me a fool. Label me odd. Label me strange, and somewhat off-kilter. These are natural tendencies that I do not have to revisit in order to maintain. They are behaviors, they are patterns, they are ME. But, historically speaking, find a president who governed to the populace by way of leaning too far to one side, or the other. Not an easy task. Find a religious leader who spoke to, and inspired, a global audience by condemning every other faith, save for their own. Not gonna happen. There is a reason why Presidents who govern from the Center are so popular, and successful. There is a reason why the Dalai Lama is so popular, and considered so kindly. There is a reason why Devil Fiction is not a real category, and why people in the publishing industry cringe when they hear the word, “satire.” Once you are defined by a label, or once a label is set in place to define all those who follow it, flexibility of thought, and of choice, is limited.
Corey Haim was a victim of this. He couldn’t do a movie without Corey Feldman that anyone would want to watch, and he was forever a child actor, with limited ability. Once the label of, “child”, was removed–when adulthood came knocking, he was no longer Corey Haim. At least not the Corey Haim we knew. He was just, “that guy who used to be a child actor, that was in those movies with that other Corey guy.” I think that saddens me more than his death.
So, who am I?
I’m ME. That should be enough.