I often imagine I come from a distant planet and that I’m here on Earth as an observer, reporting on the peculiar behavior of humans so as to keep the rest of the Planetary Federation abreast of the truly weird things that go on beyond its boundaries. On Saturday, November 29, 2013, for instance, many humans in The Somewhat United States mourned the loss of a mediocre actor, Paul Walker, who died – by cosmic coincidence – in a car wreck.
Paul Walker was most well-known for his role as Brian O’Conner in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, a franchise in which none of the films will make anyone’s Top 1000 list 25, 50, or 100 years from now. As evidenced by the number of woman mourning Walker versus how many men are mourning, it is apparent the outpouring of emotion for Walker has more to do with Walker’s good looks than his acting skill. That is to say, Heath Ledger was more of a loss to the movie industry than Walker, for at least Ledger had the decency to look good, act well, and pick his roles wisely.
By all accounts, Walker was a nice enough guy in real life who wasn’t even responsible for his own death and losing any such person under the given circumstances constitutes a tragedy. It’s just that the outpouring of emotion over this particular death is magnified beyond the contributions Walker made to his art. Where is the similar outpouring of emotion for Aldo Coppola, the late Milan hairstylist who helped merge hair styling with fashion? Coppola certainly impacted art more than Walker did in their respective genres. Every time you see a fashion show, you should be thanking Coppola. But, no one thanks Walker for starring in the Fast and Furious movies, well, except women dragged to the movies by the boyfriends and husbands. At least Walker’s life made someone feel better for a little while.
With three of Walker’s films set to be released posthumously, you can be sure that fans and critics alike will suddenly marvel at Walker’s incredible range and breadth of skill and how terrible it is that just as Walker was coming into his own, we lost him. While we should perhaps respect the dead because they cannot defend themselves, let’s not bestow sainthood upon those who do not deserve it. We all owe more thanks to Coppola for whom without, the Victoria’s Secret catalog just wouldn’t be the same.