The more things change, the more they stay the same.
No words have ever proven to be more true especially when applied to the world of super-heroes.
For them, death has always been at best uncertain.
But what there was in the world of super-heroes was virtually non-existent until the silver age when it was learned that Captain America’s youthful partner Bucky was killed at the end of World War II.
After that, death for super-heroes remained a rare event but when it happened, it was usually done for dramatic purposes. In more recent years, death often comes for no other reason than to replace unfashionable white males with more politically acceptable ethnic or gender specific substitutes.
But whatever the reason editors or writers might have for killing off heroes, readers themselves have always taken their demise seriously, hoping for the most part that those who have made the supreme sacrifice are not robbed of their halos.
Unfortunately, the desires of fans for the permanency of death in their favorite comic book universes have too often turned out not to be final. And so, whether it’s clones, robot duplicates, returning spirits, impersonators, stand-ins, or alternate universe versions, most super-hero deaths never seem to last.
Caveat Emptor: although the following list includes characters who have been thoroughly killed (and numbered in the order of least likely to be revived), their deaths have mostly taken place in the traditional continuity stemming from comics’ silver age of the 1960s. It does not take into account any 21st century developments in the Marvel or DC universes wherein most if not all past continuities have been scuttled or confused beyond the average reader’s ability to understand.
10) Blue Beetle
The Blue Beetle has a long history going all the way back to comics’ golden age but the Blue Beetle, whose rights were eventually acquired by DC, was the Ted Kord version first introduced by artist Steve Ditko in 1966. After DC bought the rights to the Beetle, the character was played mostly for laughs until he was executed in Countdown to Infinite Crisis (2005). Kord’s death made way for an ethnic re-do with a young Hispanic boy taking on the mantle of the Blue Beetle.
Florida woman really did it this time:
Angela Stoldt, 42, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole Friday for the murder of 36-year-old James Sheaffer.
Stoldt and Sheaffer argued over money before Stoldt stabbed her neighbor in the eye with an ice pick and strangled him in a cemetery April 3, 2013.
She wrapped Sheaffer’s head in plastic to prevent blood leaking in her car and transported the corpse to her house, prosecutors said.
Stoldt chopped him up in two kiddie pools and threw a leg in the oven and other limbs on the stove in an attempt to cremate the body, police said.
Some stories are beyond even my ability to make light. I could easily have left aside my qualms with the death penalty in this case.
See the seventh commandment here.
Women are fixers. It should come as no surprise to anyone with an understanding of the sexes that the leading female figure on primetime television is none other than a fixer named Olivia Pope. Fifty years ago women primarily played the role of mother on screen and, in doing so, they fixed things and life was pretty darn perfect. But perfect doesn’t fly on network television any longer. Today it’s all about drama, and drama is conflict. So, we get Olivia Pope: beautiful, intelligent, who fantasizes about marrying an already married man, having his children and fixing a nice little life in the Vermont countryside for them, but is too embroiled in fixing her own life and the lives of those she loves to ever quite reach her American nirvana.
Like Israel’s matriarchs, Olivia Pope has a vision of justice, of order, of the way things should be. The wearer of the “white hat,” she wrestles between good and evil in her many attempts to manifest this divine sense that has been humanized as her “gut” instinct. Watch her and you’ll see the woman in white when she pursues truth, the woman in black when she has given over to evil, and the woman in gray when she questions everything she knows. Being a fixer is a woman’s inherent power and inevitable struggle. It isn’t that we want to “do it all” because doing it isn’t as hard as taking responsibility for it, for the lives under our care. Olivia Pope cares for everyone, wants to save everyone, wants to repair everyone and make everything all better. Her struggle, like that of the matriarchs, is in placing the sole burden of responsibility on her own shoulders. But, the greatest lesson of God-given responsibility is that you are not expected to carry it all alone.
Hope springs eternal, but so do financial crises in hospitals. Once, while researching the history of the hospital in which I was working at the time, I discovered that it had been so short of money in the 1840s that it had been forced to sell some land to a railway company that wanted to build a line near the hospital. The physicians were against the sale, for they feared the noise of the trains might kill the patients, “especially the brain cases.” They were overruled, and when the first train went by they observed the patients anxiously to monitor the adverse effect on them. There was none.
However, psychiatric hospitals seem often to be built near railway lines, which act as a magnet to the patients who are suicidal. Patients of such hospitals who commit suicide while on the premises usually do so by hanging, while those who do so outside usually jump from a tall building or throw themselves in front of trains.
A paper from Germany in a recent edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry analyzes the characteristics of 100 suicides of psychiatric patients who threw themselves in front of trains conveniently near to the hospitals in which they were resident at the time. It took the authors ten years to collect their sample, whom they compared with other patients of the same age, sex and psychiatric diagnosis who did not throw themselves in front of trains. The object of the exercise was to see whether such suicides could be predicted and therefore prevented. The authors rather laconically remark that when a man throws himself in front of a train — and nearly two-thirds of the cases were men — it is likely that he really means to die.
A Catholic friend attended her church’s All Saints’ service on Saturday. She came over afterward to visit and help me with some stuff and told me about the lovely service. She mentioned something she still finds odd. The saints are often depicted with the instruments of their torture. St. Lawrence of “Turn me over, I’m done on this side” fame carries a grill, St. Catherine carries a wheel. Here are 10 of the more brutal martyrdoms.
We found this disconcerting for two reasons: one, the memory of what happened to those people. These were not quick deaths. Two, such tortures are still happening to Christians today. (Warning for graphic links, although the Daily Mail has pixelated them.) Beheadings and crucifixions still plague us. As does sexual slavery. According to the videos there, the blue and green eyed girls fetch a higher price.
When I went to church the next day (I’m Anglican and we do All Saints on the Sunday closest to November 1st) this is exactly what one of our reverends gave his sermon on. Our tormenters don’t let up. That’s what we are supposed to remember on All Saints’ Day, perseverance in the face of anything.
Halloween was always a point of contention in our house growing up. Naturally theatrical, I loved dressing up and relished in making my own costumes. And what kid turns down free candy? Sure, Jewish kids have Purim for these things and more, but when you’re in a mainly gentile neck of the woods, it’s a struggle not to be allowed to join in the party. As I grew into adulthood and took a deeper look at Halloween, however, I began to understand my parents’ objections quite clearly. There are definite reasons why Jews and Christians who base their faith in the Bible should re-think introducing and encouraging their child’s participation in this, the most pagan of American holidays.
Don’t miss last week’s links, collected here: “The 2 Most Disgusting, Soul-Crushing Stories From Last Week (And 81 Competitors)” and Monday’s round-up here: “Man Sent By ISIS to Rape Pit Bull In Neighbor’s Yard? Clown Thugs Terrorize Paris?“ See shocking stories you think should should be included? Tweet them to @DaveSwindle.
At Vice Tuesday:
VICE: What happened to you as a child? Why do you need to make everybody hate you?
Deadanimalsikilled: Maybe I just didn’t get enough attention. Maybe if people cared about me more, I wouldn’t be forced to post such terrible pictures.
Where do you get the photos?
I usually get the images from Yahoo, because I thought that it would be harder for people to find them on Google and realize I was fake. I don’t know if that logic makes sense. I’m just trying to troll people and make them feel really bad.
It seems like they’re trying to make you feel bad, too. How long have you been doing this?
I’ve been doing running Deadanimalsikilled since October 2013. I started with a mouse, and I’m working my way up into larger and larger game. I feel like that’s what a serial killer would do. First a rat, then a crow, and so on.
I get a lot of death threats. People want me dead.
Via Drudge Tuesday:
At Mother Jones:
Fishers are forest-dwelling, cat-sized mammals—and one of the only known predators of porcupines—that were nearly wiped out by trapping and logging during the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the current threats to the fishers are familiar, like wildfires and logging. But FWS found the misuse of rodenticides, more commonly known as rat poison, to be a “relatively recent and troubling threat.” There are now about 4,000 fishers left in dispersed pockets in California, Oregon, and Washington. FWS cited a study that found rat poison in the blood of 85 percent of fishers studied between 2012 and 2014.
The rise in rodenticide usage stems partly from the proliferation of “trespass grows,” or hidden spots in public parks, forests, and tribal lands where marijuana growers cultivate their goods. Each year, the United States grows about 22 million pounds of marijuana, and nearly half of the cannabis eradicated by law enforcement comes from trespass grows. It’s difficult to overstate how much the grows contribute to the weed industry: In 2013, 72 percent of the outdoor plants seized by law enforcement in California came from trespass grows.
TMZ reports that McDaniel is only legally prohibited from spending time with Shannon’s daughter Anna Cardwell, whom he forced to engage in oral sex when she was 8 years old. McDaniel subsequently served 10 years in prison on other charges, and reportedly rekindled his relationship with Shannon when he was released in March.
According to law enforcement officials, McDaniel has not been in violation of legal requirements that he stay away from Cardwell, who is now 20 and has a child of her own.
Don’t miss last week’s links, collected here: “The 2 Most Disgusting, Soul-Crushing Stories From Last Week (And 81 Competitors).” See shocking stories you think should should be included in the round-up? Tweet them to @DaveSwindle.
Paris (AFP) – A wave of panic sparked by evil clowns stalking French towns has spread to the south of France where police on Saturday night arrested 14 teenagers dressed as the pranksters, carrying pistols, knives and baseball bats.
A police source said Sunday the group of teens were arrested in the parking lot of a high school in the Mediterranean port town of Agde, as several other complaints poured in about “armed clowns” in the region over the weekend.
WATERBURY, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) — A naked man is accused of raping a pit bull in his neighbor’s yard.
Alice Woodruff told WTNH-TV that she confronted her neighbor at gunpoint while he was performing sex acts on her rescue pit bull that is kept on an 800-pound tow chain in her backyard.
“I thought my dog had killed somebody because I saw a man underneath her,” Woodruff explained to WTNH. “I started to scream. I had a citronella candle and I threw it at him, screaming ‘get off my dog, you have to get out of here.’ He said, ‘No, today is the day we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.’”
Woodruff said the man appeared mentally ill as he was telling her that the terror group ISIS sent him.
The 26-year-old Iranian woman who was executed on Saturday for murdering a man she said tried to rape her sent a final message to her mother, asking her to make sure her organs would be donated. Reyhaneh Jabbari is largely calm in the voice message she recorded for her mother in April; in it she seems resigned to her fate after being on death row for five years. Iranian activists distributed a translation of the message, equating it to Jabbari’s will.
I don’t want to rot under the soil. I don’t want my eye or my young heart to turn into dust. Beg so that it is arranged that as soon as I am hanged my heart, kidney, eye, bones and anything that can be transplanted be taken away from my body and given to someone who needs them as a gift. I don’t want the recipient know my name, buy me a bouquet, or even pray for me.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the series finale of Boardwalk Empire.
No Sopranos-style ambiguity here: Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi)
Featured for today’s question of the day: “Boardwalk Empire: Now That You Know the Ending, Is It Worth Watching?“
Today adds the stories below to these three surveys from last week of the most eyeball-grabbing headlines from around web: Monday: “Will You Follow Monica Lewinsky on Twitter?,” Tuesday: “Why The Dave Matthews Song ‘Crash’ Is Much Worse Than You Realized,” Friday: Honey Boo Boo Cancelled After Mom Returns to Dating a Child Molester.” Also see the previous week’s collection from last Sunday: Last Week’s 125 Most Horrifying Headlines
Houston police are searching for more possible victims of a man who allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl and a 23-month-old girl, infecting them both with HIV.
David R. Wilson, 33, is charged with sexual assault of a child and super aggravated sexual assault of a child. He could face more charges, since it’s a crime for any HIV-positive person to have sex with an uninformed partner.
According to charging documents, family members brought the toddler to Memorial Hermann in November 2013, where doctors discovered a growth on her genitals. Test results came back positive for HIV, herpes and chlamydia.
A doctor told investigators the toddler “had to have been sexually assaulted as evidenced by the presence of three sexually transmitted diseases.”
Doctors performed reconstructive surgery on her because of damage from infection.
2. Man Dug Up Corpses Of 29 Little Girls For Twisted Fantasies — ‘Not Fit For Trial’ [Warning: Disturbing Footage]
A man who was discovered to have stolen the bodies of at least 29 little girls from their graves in order to fulfill his disturbing fantasies will not stand trial.
Russian police found the mummified remains of 29 girls at the home of Anatoly Moskvin, 46, in 2011. Three years after Moskvin was arrested, a judge decided this week that he will not have to stand trial for his crimes, declaring him mentally unfit
And it seems the prosecution agrees, as a spokesperson stated, “After three years of monitoring him in a psychiatric clinic it is absolutely clear that Moskvin is not mentally fit for trial. He will therefore be kept for psychiatric treatment at the clinic.”
Moskvin says that he dressed them up and threw birthday parties for them, obviously in order to fulfill some twisted obsession. He traces his ghoulish fantasies back to the age of 12, when he says he came across a funeral procession, where he was forced to kiss the face of the dead, who happened to be an 11-year-old girl. He says that shortly after that, he developed an interest in the occult.
Strangely enough, at the time of his arrest, Moskvin was a respected historian who reportedly speaks 13 languages, and was described as a “genius” by many.
Did you read anything more disturbing online last week than these sad stories? Here’s the collection, but let’s start off with something to calm the soul first before diving into a survey of the world’s darkness. Here’s an excerpt from page 119 of Rabbi David A. Cooper’s God Is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism, pointing out the paradoxical effect that suffering can bring:
One lamentable feature of the contemporary West is the ruthless efficiency of the nanny state. It works overnight. You wake up, slouch over your coffee and corn flakes, and read of the new Bad Thing that must be stopped Right Now. In Britain, the latest activity slated for oblivion is smoking in public parks. Readers, I’m sure, do not need to be reminded that parks are outdoor places; the traditional excuse of “secondhand smoke” does not appear to apply (although it is possible to find “studies” on the dangers of “thirdhand smoke”).
Nevertheless, British officials moved quickly. In September 2013, the mayor of London, alleged conservative Boris Johnson, ordered a “major review of health in the capital,” according to The Independent. The results are already in: Lord Darzi, Britain’s former health minister and the appointed chair of Johnson’s special commission, has said smoking needs to be banned in London’s parks and public squares. There is news that ”councils throughout England are also understood to be analysing how the proposals could be applied locally, paving the way for potentially the biggest crackdown on smoking since the Smoke Free legislation of 2007.”
10. The “Teen Mom” story we don’t see on TV: Why high school students need birth control and parental leave
Check out the round-up of Last Week’s 125 Most Horrifying Headlines in this new PJ Lifestyle series juxtaposing high and low.
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) October 20, 2014
3. Joel B. Pollak: Extremists Like Ezra Klein Shouldn’t Offer Sex Advice
Though he acknowledges that the law creates “a haze of fear and confusion” around sex, Klein says that is really a good thing: “everyday sexual practices on college campuses need to be upended, and men need to feel a cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter.”
A “cold spike of fear.” We are not talking about some kinky BDSM fantasy. We are talking about the most precious, exciting, intimate moment a loving couple can share.
It would be too easy to invoke the stereotype of the beta-male liberal–afraid of sex, afraid of football, afraid of adulthood.
Suffice it to say that Klein has joined those, left and right, who wish to use the state to intrude into personal lives. He is a totalitarian, and proud of it.
At the Daily Caller:
5. Lead Story: WEDDING BELLS OR JAIL CELLS: Idaho City To Christian Pastors: Perform Same-Sex Weddings Or Face Jail, Fines
Alkadi’s remains were discovered around midnight near Interstate 10 in Palm Desert, an upscale, miserably hot town in the Coachella Valley of Southern California,reports Los Angeles television station KTLA.
The electrical engineering student was last seen in his home on Sept. 17. His older brother, Ahmed Alkadi, said the younger Alkadi had sold his car the previous day. He had listed the Audi on Craigslist for $36,500.
Waynesboro police tell media outlets that 28-year-old Rachel Lynn Craig is accused of posting a nude photograph of another woman on Facebook.
Immediately after his sword falls, the Saudi Arabian executioner steps backwards to avoid soiling his clothes with the blood of the condemned man, whose headless body can be seen slumping over backwards in the shaky online film.
After perfunctorily checking the white folds of his robe for flecks of red, the executioner wipes his blade with a tissue, which he drops onto the corpse and walks away.
A sudden surge in public executions in Saudi Arabia in the last two months has coincided with a U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State. This has led to inevitable comparisons in Western media between Islamic State’s beheadings and those practiced in Saudi Arabia.
At the PJ Tatler:
12. Susan L.M. Goldberg: College Students Can Now Get Schooled in “Rihanna Womanism”
13. Walter Hudson: Your Tax Dollars Fund Retired Nazis
Editor’s Note: This series attempts to juxtapose the high and the low, surveying each day’s trashy headlines and disturbing crime stories and comparing them with with the religious practices of nature-worshipping death cults. Yes — it’s celebrity gossip mixed with Bible verses and high brow philosophy. How to handle the culture pumped out by TMZ and the Daily Mail? With Maimonides, the Bible, and the great thinkers of Western Civilization along for the ride, lighting the way. Tweet your tips and suggestions to @DaveSwindle and tag @DaveSwindlePJM with suggested images on Instagram.
Is There a Connection Between Brigitte Bardot’s 100 Lovers & Her 4 Suicide Attempts?
Inaugurating a new feature to try to make sense of the trashier, darker side of the media and its predecessors in the ancient world.
1. At the Daily Mail today, as referenced in the above video introducing this new series: “EXCLUSIVE: Brigitte Bardot had 100 lovers – including women – and four husbands, but fame led to despair as she tried to end her life four times and abandoned the only child she ever had, reveals new book”
Bardot didn’t get the assignment but she and Vadim instantly fell madly in love.
‘He made on her the impression of a ‘wild wolf’’ Bardot wrote, ‘he looked at me, scared me, attracted me, I didn’t know where I was anymore’, writes the author, Ginette Vincendeau. ‘She wanted him’.
Vadim introduced Bardot to his friends in the media, to books such as Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and to sex.
They became lovers meeting secretly and then openly against the wishes of her parents, who threatened to send their daughter away from Vadim to England.
They relented only when she tried – for the first and not the last time – to kill herself, but decreed that they could not be married until Bardot was 18.
Depressed by the thought of not seeing her lover, Bardot turned on the oven and buried her head inside to be discovered in time by her parents.
A few more examples of popular stories grabbing people’s emotions with the shocks of sex and violence. From last week’s NY Daily News:
“I guess I lost my virginity to a dead corpse,” Davis told police.
Davis told police he had violent sexual fantasies that included both his mother and sister, the Caller-Times reported.
Davis also planned to kill his sister, Desirae Hill, but gave up and rode off on his bicycle when she didn’t show up at the family’s Corpus Christi home.
Four headlines juxtaposed together today at the New York Post: Sex, Sex, Violence, Death:
3. Cocaine, sex tips and more from Amy Poehler’s new book
4.Facebook, Apple will now pay for employees to freeze their eggs
5.Flag-toting drone causes massive brawl in Euro qualifier
6. Ebola death rate hits 70%
Fox News: Sex, Death, Sex:
7. ‘Set your girls free’: Monday is National No Bra Day
8. Chris Brown calls Ebola a form of population control
9. Cameron Diaz: People have seen my butt
10. And in ISIS news, from the National Post: “ISIS jihadists offer Islamic justification for taking thousands of Yazidi women as sex slaves”:
When stories of mass murder and enslavement first emerged in August there were suggestions they might be exaggerated.
Now, however, researchers who have talked to survivors and imprisoned women on hidden mobile phones believe that up to 5,000 men may have been shot dead and bulldozed into mass graves, and 7,000 women held in detention centres to be offered as slaves.
Bakat Khalaf, 60, another refugee in Ba’adre, said his 13-year-old niece had escaped seven weeks after being “taken away” but had so far been too distressed to describe what had happened to her. “She just cries when she tries to speak,” he said. Others escapers have told of being “married” to older jihadi leaders, in some cases raped, and made to watch acts of barbarity. Such stories have been confirmed by researchers from the United Nations. Matthew Barber, a scholar of Yazidi history at the University of Chicago who was in Kurdistan as the assaults happened, said he had a list of 4,800 names of women and children being held captive.
From Judges chapter 2, the names of the ancient gods now appearing again in our postmodern world:
The hippies started small:
That guy who invented Earth Day killing his girlfriend, hiding her body in a wall and taking off for France.
(Remember: More people died in Ira Einhorn’s apartment than at Three Mile Island.)
The stupid Weathermen succeeded mostly in blowing themselves up.
Then it eventually dawned on hippies (probably during some pot-fueled rap session):
They needed to think big, like their totalitarian heroes — Mao, Che, Castro.
Forget this penny-ante nihilism and creative destruction.
Sure, the Bible might be mostly b.s., but that stuff about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was trippy:
Pestilence, War, Famine and Death.
My PJ colleague Walter Hudson published a compelling argument regarding physician-assisted suicide in response to the ongoing dialogue surrounding terminal cancer patient Brittany Maynard. His is a well-reasoned argument regarding the intersection of theology and politics, written in response to Matt Walsh’s Blaze piece titled “There is Nothing Brave About Suicide.” Both pieces are a reminder that, in the ongoing debate over whether or not Maynard has the right to schedule her own death, little has been said regarding the role the medical profession plays in the battle to “Die with Dignity.” Walsh argues:
None of us get to die on our own terms, because if we did then I’m sure our terms would be a perfect, happy, and healthy life, where pain and death never enter into the picture at all.
It’s a simplistic comment that ignores a very real medical fact: Death can come on your own terms. And that doesn’t have to mean suicide.
My mother was a nurse for 20 years. During that time she worked in a variety of settings, from hospitals, to private practice, to nursing homes. Much like Jennifer Worth, the nurse and author of the Call the Midwife series, my mother practiced at the end of Victorian bedside nursing and the dawn of Medicare. As a result, the abuses she witnessed in the name of insurance claims were grotesque. For instance, if a patient required one teaspoon of medication, an entire bottle would be poured into the sink and charged to that patient’s insurance company. This was just the tip of the iceberg of unethical practices that would become priority in the name of the almighty “billing schedule.”
Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has declared his love for Lena Dunham. It hardly comes as a surprise that a New York Times writer, even one who dwells to the right of the aisle, would find the Girls prodigy appealing. What makes Douthat’s devotion disturbing is that he has managed to transform a goddess chained to a slew of liberal causes into a sacrificial lamb for conservative culture. In his struggle to do so, his misses the mark in what could have been one of the most culturally relevant critiques of Girls to date.
The critic defends Dunham’s showpiece Girls, writing,
She’s making a show for liberals that, merely by being realistic, sharp-edge, complicated, almost gives cultural conservatism its due.
It’s a seemingly ironic observation, based in the idea that Girls “often portrays young-liberal-urbanite life the way, well, many reactionaries see it…” That is, a subculture on the verge of self-destruction due to excessive amounts of what sociologist Robert Bellah dubbed, “the view that the key to the good life lies almost exclusively in self-discovery, self-actualization, the cultivation of the unique and holy You.”
In other words, as Gawker so simply put it:
He likes watching the show because it allows him to feel superior to Dunham and her fellow sluts.
By employing a rote, traditionalist perspective, Douthat argued himself into a hole, turning his love into judgement and burying his point in poorly-worded theory and equally bad theology.
So the Jews did it after all.
OK, scratch out that pluralizing “s.”
Not that it will make any difference to diehard antisemitic conspiracy nuts – “the men who taste Jews in their sandwiches.”
Those types must have squirmed with glee when the Daily Mail reported that Jack the Ripper’s identity had finally been revealed thanks to DNA testing.
The mentally deranged Kosminski was 25 years old, an immigrant (likely from Russia’s Pale of Settlement), a sometime-hairdresser – and a Jew.
I pushed off the idea of writing this article when I first heard that Joan Rivers, one of my comic icons, was rushed to the hospital after a botched outpatient procedure last week. I didn’t want to think about having to say goodbye to Joan, to bid farewell to yet another icon of an age gone by, a powerhouse who managed to be a cultural force until her last breath. The only solace we can muster is in knowing that, for these ten reasons at least, Joan’s memory will be a blessing.
10. Joan never grew old or gave up.
At 81, she was as attuned to pop culture, politics, and current events as a 20 year old. A self-made fashionista, the comedian never retired, sat in a chair, or gave in to technology. Joan will forever be a role model to women who refuse to trade style for a shapeless moo-moo and an office chair for a rocking chair. In her later years she paired up with Melissa, illustrating that mothers and daughters really can work together and get along. She was a modern Bubbe, surrounded by her children and grandchildren as she took the world by storm.
Genie, you're free. pic.twitter.com/WjA9QuuldD
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 12, 2014
1. Matt Walsh at his eponymous blog: “Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice“
I’m not normally one to write a blog post about a dead celebrity, but then I suppose there is no such thing.
There are only living celebrities, not dead ones. In death, wealth and prestige decay and we are brought into a new reality, the only reality there is or ever was — one which, for much better or much worse, doesn’t care at all about our popularity or our money.
The death of Robin Williams is significant not because he was famous, but because he was human, and not just because he left this world, but particularly because he apparently chose to leave it.
A terrible, monstrous atrocity. It disturbs me in a deep, visceral, indescribable way. Of course it disturbs most people, I would assume. Indeed, we should fear the day when we wake up and decide we aren’t disturbed by it anymore.
We tend to look for the easiest answers. It makes us feel better to say that depression is only a disease and that there is no will and choice in suicide, as if a person who kills themselves is as much a victim as someone who succumbs to leukemia.
2. Jim Geraghty at National Review: “Robin Williams and Our Strange Times: Does our society set the stage for depression?”
The constant online presence would lead to a world of nonstop instant reaction, where everyone could immediately transmit the first thought that popped into his head in response to news. Everyone’s first reaction would become his defining reaction, particularly if it’s dumb or knee-jerk. If it was racist, sexist, hateful, or obnoxious, even better. Those horrified would then share and retweet it to their friends and followers, spreading the perception that the world was overpopulated with hateful idiots, and that average Americans — or average human beings! – were rather nasty, ignorant creatures unworthy of respect or affection. Many people would quickly and easily forget that the people who comment on Internet websites represent a small slice of the population, a fraction predisposed to getting pleasure from posting shocking, obnoxious, or hateful material.
The widespread perception that almost everyone else was a moron — why, just look at the things people post and say on the Internet! – would facilitate a certain philosophy of narcissism; we would have people walking around convinced they’re much smarter, and much more sophisticated and enlightened, than everyone else.
3. Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler responding to Walsh: “Chasing Shadows in the Death of Robin Williams”
Anyone who has seen true mental illness up close knows that the idea of choice gets bent and blurred.
I’ve seen Alzheimer’s Disease up close. It’s not depression, but it is a different disease of the same organ, the brain. Alzheimer’s sufferers do not choose to lurch from the present to three decades into the past in an instant. They don’t choose to forget who you are, what your name is, who they are, where they are, everything they have ever known and everyone they have ever loved. They don’t choose to become hostile to those they love who are caring for them. They are not choosing any of that. Yet what is happening in their brains impacts their behavior and can be incredibly frustrating and crushing for their loved ones. It’s heart-breaking, one of the most heart-breaking experiences a person can experience.
There is no more choice in that than there is choice to come down with cancers unrelated to behavior. There is no more choice in that than the choice to grow old, see your organs wink out one by one, as you approach the end. Did the boy who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, an organ disease which will probably kill him in his 20s, choose that? Depression, like Alzheimer’s, is a disease of an organ, the brain. Where choice begins and ends in the mind of someone with clinical depression is quite blurry. I don’t pretend to know where it is. Depression is the ultimate mind game, only your own brain is working deviously against itself.
Inevitably, Robin Williams’ suicide saw the “raising awareness about mental health issues” camp fighting it out online with the “he was a selfish git” crowd.
When the latter reject the “disease model” of addiction and mental illness — people like Theodore Dalrymple — they do so prompted by a laudable instinct:
They think depressed people or addicts use the “disease” model to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
This is a bit like the New Atheists’ concept of “God,” as “an old man in the sky.” They proudly and loudly reject that concept, seemingly unaware (despite their alleged sophistication and superior education) that so do most actual believers.
Likewise, few addicts who accept the disease model (and not all do) use it as a “get out of jail free” card.
It’s called “How It Works” not “How It Lounges on the Couch Eating Cheetos and Watching Judge Judy.”
“Some of us thought we could find an easier, softer way, but we could not…”
Making amends, taking inventory, doing service and even prayer and meditation are exercises in responsibility and action.
Robin Williams apparently did all those things and stayed clean and sober for 20 years.
Then he “went out” in 2006 and was never the same.
Or, as Catholics like to say when they can’t explain something: “It’s a mystery…”
(If you say it in a somber enough voice, and include the “…”, it sounds satisfyingly deep.)
No one could have predicted that Oscar-winning comedian Robin Williams would kill himself.
Or could they?
When someone commits suicide, the reaction is often the same. It’s disbelief, mixed with a recognition that the signs were all there. Depression. Maybe talk of ending one’s life.
Now, by studying people who think about committing suicide, as well as brains of people who actually did, two groups of genome researchers in the U.S. and Europe are claiming they can use DNA tests to actually predict who will attempt suicide.
While claims for a suicide test remain preliminary, and controversial, a “suicide gene” is not as fanciful as it sounds.
The problem is that suicide samples are small and I often wonder how much gender plays a role in the lack of studies and data on suicide:
“We seem to be able to predict suicidal behavior and attempts, based on seeing these epigenetic changes in the blood,” says Kaminsky. “The caveat is that we have small sample sizes.”
Kaminsky says that following the report, his e-mail inbox was immediately flooded by people wanting the test. “They wanted to know, if my dad died from suicide, is my son at risk?” he says….
The bigger problem, says Dracheva, is that there are simply not enough brains of suicide victims to study. Unlike studies of diabetes or schizophrenia, where scientists can call on thousands or tens of thousands of patients, suicide studies remain small, and their findings much more tentative.
It’s because they don’t have DNA from enough people who committed suicide that researchers, including those at Hopkins and Max Planck, have had to try connecting the dots between DNA and whether or not people have suicidal thoughts. Yet there’s no straight line between the contemplation of suicide and actually doing it.
Of the more than 38,000 suicides in this country, over 30,000 are by men, yet the suicide studies remain small? Why?
image illustration via shutterstock / Youjin Jung
10. Written on the Wind (1956)
Douglas Sirk’s soapy melodramas had an element of tongue-in-cheek camp that later came to be appreciated as sly subversion, and in this one Bacall played along beautifully as a canny Manhattan career woman in the advertising business who marries the scion (Robert Stack) of a wild oil clan while secretly making time for the poor outsider (Rock Hudson) who has worked his way up in the family business.
10. Deconstructing Harry (1997)
Williams’ only Woody Allen film is essentially a series of sketches in which Allen works out his demons. Williams is in the film for only a few minutes but he makes them count in a brilliant bit part as Mel, a film actor whose life is such a blur that he has literally gone out of focus.