Lots of people die. All of them, eventually. There are more people who have died than there are people who are alive right now. On average, there are 15 dead people for every one that is alive. The majority of them died well before I was born, fortunately many of them left behind a legacy that has the potential to benefit my existence, however many centuries removed we are from one another.
Shakespeare is a great example of that. He’s one of my favourite authors of all time! And has managed to stay contemporary, because regardless of the era, the human condition does not change all that much.
Humans are capable of great and terrible things. Grand sweeping gestures and impressively horrendous acts, both to themselves and one another. But I find there is a majesty in those aspects quiet, minuscule, often unwritten. There is a grace to humanity in moments uncatalogued, undocumented. And so, for me, I find those characters who seem to embody that humanity more authentically than others, to be the unsung heroes of the everyday.
We exist in a time (like many other times..the fact that pocket sized recording devices didn’t exist has no bearing on how joyfully and fervently people have historically embraced sensationalistic stories of violence and tragedy) when it’s very difficult to consider the humanity in the people who are touted as celebrities, super models, mega stars.
They are lofty, they are untouchable, they are something more than the hoipolloi.
I tend to not pay attention to the goings on of pop culture very often. Yes, there are celebrities that I like, whose work (I’m talking about famous people who work, not famous people who don’t seem to do much of anything but argue on television) contributes, in my mind (remember the part where this is all about me and what I think and you can like what you like all day long but please don’t be offended when you start talking to me about the cultural merit of a show that glorifies vapidity and I tell you to shut the fuck up because your religion is your business and I wish you joy in that) to the body of work that is humanity throughout history.
When I heard that Alan Rickman had died, it made me very sad. There might be some who say, why the fuss over someone famous? It’s not like you actually knew them. Well, that’s true and it’s not, to my thinking. Had we ever had tea? Does he know the name of my dog? No, but there are billions of people on the planet I’ve never had, nor ever will have tea with. That doesn’t mean that their existence doesn’t have the opportunity to affect me on some level. Ideally for the better.
For me, Alan Rickman was one of the rare celebrities who I could easily imagine as a person. That might not seem like much to some, but to me, it’s a most important thing.
Every role that he played, he played as a human. Yes, I always knew that it was Alan Rickman, his voice, his face, his mannerisms were very distinct. But I never had any trouble recognizing who else he was at the time. Because he understood how to embody the person within the character. He made them real. Whether it was a psychotic gentleman thief, a dismayed sheriff, a hairdresser ex-husband, an underestimated but consistent romantic suitor, I always found it effortless to identify with the humanity of those characters. Will his characters stand the test of time? Be touted as great works of cinematic masterpiece? That’s a subjective perspective. Personal taste is, after all, personal. Not everyone would feel the way I do about Shakespeare, and that’s okay. I’m not going to try and convince anyone that something is good. That’s what individuality is all about.
But in a world where it seems so easy to forget that all aspects of the human condition deserve to be acknowledged, not just the flash bang halftime stadium concert circus extravaganza or horrifically gory needless tragic killing in the name of confusion, it’s reassuring to know that there are humans who embody the sanity of the happy medium between those two points. The place where I consider humanity to exist best.
Truly, madly, deeply.