Monday, December 21, 2009

The many Faces of Kringle and Murphy

Perhaps Santa does Slay ...

One of my friends clued me into an interesting article on the variations different countries have weaved into the Santa Claus mythology over the years, particularly on Kris Kringle's dark side. It seems Santa is not nearly so benevolent in some parts abroad as he is in the states; in fact he is downright diabolical, at least in the helpers he employs and what they have in store for naughty children. Hint? Those kids'll be begging for the lump of coal that constitutes the Claus domestic capital punishment after catching a whiff of what his foreign alter ego is dishing out.

Ahh, yes - now this fills me with the spirit of the holidays!

Flu-like Symptoms

The catch-all ailment of the stars. But it's not just for the Hollywood elite: you and I have surely used it too. And technically it's not a fib. The symptoms are "flu-like" after all. Flu-like as in "man, I'm so hung over I feel like I have the flu." Or maybe "shit, thinking about going into that office today is making me nauseous - perhaps it's the flu!" Is it such a leap from there to "man, I've been strung out on uppers, downers, screamers, coke, smack, and Jack for the past week and haven't slept in four days - coincidentally, I think I feel the flu coming on!"? It's all relative.

Brittany Murphy apparently had "flu-like symptoms" this past week prior to her untimely death from cardiac arrest yesterday at 32 years of age. Sadly, I wasn't all that surprised. Maybe it was the flu, but probably not. Generally influenza doesn't bring on a heart attack. It might well be something else entirely but my spidey sense is telling me it was an illness far too prevalent in Hollywoodland. Her skeleton-thin appearance has been been particularly concerning of late and there were those rampant rumors of having recently been given the boot from The Caller for "being extremely difficult" (rumors she vehemently denied). She was one of those living dichotomies, at once so full of life and yet with a strong tinge of "fuck it all" that seemed to envelop her like a mist she couldn't escape. Maybe this last was simply a reflection of my darker inclinations off the mirror of a kindred spirit. Or perhaps just a case of too much Behind the True Hollywood TMZ Music Story for this TV pop-culture junky.

Brittany represented one of my more potent Hollywood crushes over the years, from the time I first saw her in Bongwater. Thought I was gonna say Clueless, eh? Nope, I didn't catch that until many years later. Bongwater, though, is a great little flick that sadly never found much of an audience.

Now this Murphy attraction might not have been up in my pantheon with the likes of Mary-Louise Parker, Neve Campbell and Scarlett Johansson; however, it was nonetheless worthy of being included in the discussion. The thing with Brittany was the slightly naughty glint in her eyes and a personality bursting-to-pop with goofy, giddy life. Not necessarily a "classic beauty" - though she could clean up real nice - she did it for me far more than most of those who fit that bill. She also seemed extraordinarily vulnerable and slightly emotionally disturbed in a way I couldn't quite put my finger on. Perhaps that lent itself to the attraction - we shared a connection there possibly.

At the end of the day, though, Ms. Murphy's just another casualty caught in the cross hairs of the hills above Sunset. Regardless of the circumstances, 32's just too young to die of "natural causes." That strip sits in the shadow of the demise of countless stars and wannabes before her and it'll no doubt bear witness to a truckload yet to come. But it's just the tip of the iceberg next to the fade-to-black deaths of the great unwashed who never made it above street level there, never made it onto a movie set (well, not the sort with distribution to your local mall cineplex at any rate).

Tom Petty's cranked out more than his share of fatalistic hick-succumbs-to-Hollywood fare but the one that sticks in my mind whenever this sort of thing happens is a bit less obvious. It's also my personal favorite of his: Free Fallin'. The imagery of snaking around Mulholland and free falling from its heights in the hills to the valley below always struck a cord with me, especially after having driven it a few times. Whenever anyone meets an untimely demise up near its twisting and turning apex, I think of the roller coaster-like terrain and Free Fallin'.

Soon will come the E! True Hollywood Story and countless exposes from 20/20, 48 Hours, TMZ, etc. Time will tell as to the specifics surrounding her passing but it won't change the end result.

I hope the mist has cleared for you, Brittany. But you're dead, so how would you know? As Stanley Kubrick once wrote, "The dead only know one thing: It is better to be alive."