I can’t say I was really a follower of Ms. Richardson’s career. I don’t even think I’ve willingly seen any movie with her in it (I might have seen a few moments of my family’s video copy of The Parent Trap). She was always one of those actresses that I was more familiar with by reputation than anything I’ve actually seen her in; just another blonde Englishwoman who happens to act. Sure, she was Vanessa Redgrave’s daughter and Liam Neeson’s wife but even that seemed secondary.
Yes, her death this week was a tragedy. That goes without saying; 45 is still young, and for it to happen the way it did, just coming out of nowhere, makes it all the more sad. What I’m more upset about is the way the media handled themselves; it was to be expected considering the vultures they were with Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II four years ago but when the New York Post and Fox News were posting rumours as fact before the family had a chance to make their statement, that was a new low. I realize with all the pressure to get the story first (especially in a world where the internet allows information to get out like that) these things do happen, and those sources are not particularly esteemed for dedication to the truth anyway, but come on! The family obviously was keeping quiet for a reason. Some articles made sure to qualify that there was no official word on the prognosis and kept their headlines accordingly ambiguous, but putting “BRAIN DEAD” as a headline is just irresponsible at best, and sickening in what it reveals.
What it looks like to me is that these news agencies and gossip columns were actually rooting for her death. Perez Hilton, in his ever so responsible way, made one post with the title “It’s looking grim!” like he was creaming himself with anticipation of a great story (and he had already prematurely posted that she had died at that point, to boot). Death does get more people to pay attention, I’ll give them that. But where is the line between the hot scoop and the actual pain and suffering involved? The way the story was handled, everyone was rushing for the boasting rights to be first to say that Liam Neeson is widowed and a number of family members are grieving. It’s definitely some perverse schadenfreude operating here.
What I’m saying is not a new idea in the least. I just wonder how far it will go.