The Great Bird of Fire
As I'm sure you all know, last week's hotness crown did indeed go to River Phoenix. Johnny made it close, but in the end, River still emerged victorious. I do love Depp, but I'm glad he lost to the great martyred body of water whose spirit rose from the ashes in the form of his brother Leaf... or something. Seriously, though, I really REALLY love River Phoenix. And I thought he deserved an additional follow-up post with kind words.
This contest got me back into a big River phase, during which I actually bought My Own Private Idaho and a book called In Search of River Phoenix: The Truth Behind The Myth, by William Richert (they were impulse buys, but I think they were wise ones). And I've started to feel bad objectifying River in the way these contests do. I feel like I'm exploiting River's image for personal enjoyment, and that makes me feel bad, since he was known to be averse to the "cult of the image". But it's only because I love him deeply, and because his image always communicated so much. Just look at his eyes. I can't think of another actor with more presence and spirit right there in plain view. Plus, he's just so damn beautiful. Just utterly, undeniably gorgeous. Like an angel.
River was revered for the tremendous innocence he projected onscreen, and I think it was actually that innocence, and (I'd argue) a certain naivité, that did him in. Almost painfully straight-laced before the Young Hollywood got to him, he apparently didn't see the real dangers in the things he'd once sworn he wouldn't do. It seems the cleaner they are, the harder they fall, at least in this case. And River was just not prepared for what life had in store for him. It's easy to blame his own carelessness and stupidity for what happened, but I just can't. I can't let myself believe such a lovely person could've brought that on himself. I have to find some other way to make sense of such a horrible tragedy. I prefer to believe it was the world that did it to him... that we just didn't deserve to keep him for any longer, and he suffered for it. Only the good die young.
I guess I have nothing more to say now, so I direct fellow fans to the very interesting sites Rio's Attic and The River Phoenix Pages. I'll also report back on how good this Behind the Myth book is. Who knows, I could be all wrong... but I want to know as much about him as I can. There really is a "myth" of River Phoenix that transcends both himself and his celebrity. Not since his fellow fallen star James Dean has an actor been made into so much more from being taken so early. RIP, River Phoenix. You'll always be dearly missed.
Labels: River Phoenix