Five months ago, less than a week after her 24th birthday, my fiancée, Shanna, collapsed. No one knew it at the time, but a blood clot had broken loose from her leg and made its way into her lung. Once it was there, it did a number of things: It put pressure on her heart, dropping her blood pressure…
This is such a great piece. It’s harrowing, as the author deals with the grief of his recent death of his fiancee, but it’s also one hundred percent correct in how it criticizes the way certain books, films, and television treat death.
The author ultimately leaves it up in the air as to whether it’s a legitimate gripe or just a symptom of his own grief. It’s both: he noticed it because of his grief, but that doesn’t mean it’s not warranted.
Death in a work should have a major impact. It should linger, and it should matter. It doesn’t have to be the climax, and it CAN be a plot device, but if so, it better have some fucking weight to it. If you don’t give it the proper respect and weight it deserves, then you remove the danger and peril from your work. You also, IMO, contribute to the greater trend of artless hackery in film and literature, where the stakes have to become greater and greater until they breach the realm of the absurd, all because you couldn’t be bothered to make a death matter.
Let’s not get started on comics. I mean, my God.
Anyway, go read this.
Very important topic that I think of daily. After reading this I can consider myself a “death elitist” as well. I usually don’t like action or super hero/comic book movies for the exact reasons the author writes about. Those are the worst when it comes to mindless murder and mayhem and no respect for the dead. When a random security guard is shot to death as the protagonist makes their way out of a building, am I the only one who sometimes wonders who that guard was? Were they loved? Were they happy? Did they have a choice? This sounds silly but really, think about how many times we’ve seen that exact scene played out. Then we justify it in our heads “well they deserved to die.”
This is why I am utterly enthralled with Six Feet Under and I’m surprised the author didn’t mention it. Even before the new millennium, the creator Alan Ball was asking himself why the film industry hasn’t tackled on what death is REALLY about. It’s always brushed under the rug in film and television but death is the epicenter for all 63 hour long episodes of this show. There is a reason why every day when I check the SFU tag someone has just finished the series and they are completely beside themselves. Their emotions are beyond anything they could type out because as far as film and tv goes, NOTHING has given death and life the kind of attention that they deserve except for that tv series. I’ve watched so many shows and films and I’ve never been able to get the comfort and love I get from watching that show, from anything else.
I guess if you want to take anything from this, start reevaluating why you actually like the things you watch (this goes outside the realm of death as well.)