Photo by Matt Graves
[Note: Opinions expressed in this piece are purely reflective of the author’s macabre sense of humor and lack of decorum. Enjoy at your own risk. We did.]
In case you’ve spent the summer locked in a monastery, Michael Jackson died in late June. Met with sadness by many, apathy by some and even smug satisfaction by those buying into the whole child-toucher thing, these aspects are undeniable: The man made some fantastic music and leaves behind one of the greatest legacies of tabloid fodder and controversy since Elvis Presley, his known idol.
Jackson was far from your typical drug abuser, and it feels unfair to make him the reigning poster boy for the celebrity drug overdose, particularly when he’s the perfect poster boy for so many other things. Perhaps that’s the most tragic thing about his surprise death by overdose — it was completely unearned.
I know how callous this may sound in this Era of Entitlement, where celebrities especially tend to get their way, but if there is one thing that needs to remain sacred in the land of the vapid, it’s the celebrity drug overdose. In practice, it’s best observed in up-and-comers with known drug problems (Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison), or the self-medicating has-beens who can’t cope with being out of the spotlight (Anna Nicole Smith, the Milli Vanilli guy).
There is a well-worn methodology to this storyline, and the overdosee must meet certain characteristics, one of which is being a user of illicit street drugs in addition to prescribed pharmaceuticals. (Sorry Wacko, but Jesus Juice doesn’t count.)
Nowadays, it’s assumed that everyone in Hollywood has an accommodating Dr. Feelgood on speed dial for prescription narcotics, be it Valium, Vicodin, Ambien, Percocet or OxyContin. And if you’re hooked up with the right doctor, it could be all of the above and more. Side effects may include dying accidentally from a lethal drug combination, maybe while waiting for a massage (nice job, Heath Ledger).
It’s a veritable lottery system now, where any celebrity can gain street cred on the way out by overdosing like a rock star with a few mismatched pills and sips of champagne, bypassing the once requisite years of hard partying and drug abuse, the weathered organs and dirty hotel rooms stocked with groupies, gin and cocaine.
Whatever happened to the good old days when we didn’t need to wait for a toxicology report to announce the cause of death because the needle stuck in Janis Joplin’s arm told the whole story? That’s the right way to die of a drug overdose — expectedly, and after years of addiction and related headlines. A few remaining hard partiers might yet achieve it. Which brings us to my inaugural list of the top five celebrities who’ve earned the right to die from a drug overdose.
- Courtney Love: I know, deduct a point for being obvious, but Love is overdue for her death by overdose — like 10 years overdue. At this point I’m beginning to believe she’s achieved immortality by becoming a vampire and feasting off the blood of virgins. In any case, she’s our first candidate to visit that big pharmacy in the sky, where hubby Kurt Cobain will surely be waiting to welcome her with a cocktail and a syringe
- Lindsay Lohan: We’ve all had our fill of drama queen LiLo, but has she had enough? Despite all the scenes she’s made around town, none have been in a decent movie. My only hope for her is that she makes at least one killer film before she buys the farm, a movie that might result in people remembering her for being a good actress as well as a crackwhore. Sadly, Herbie Fully Loaded is not that movie. Keep trying, Lindsay.
- Whitney Houston: I don’t for a second believe that she is clean and sober and neither should you. Granted, she may be off that wacky crack, but I’m sure she’s replaced it with something legal, “classy” and just as destructive as her 10 years of marriage to Bobby Brown was.
- Boy George: Oh, Boy, did you really have to tie up that male escort and hold him hostage? I know the drugs made you do it, but they also made you write Karma Chameleon, arguably one of the best songs EVER, so maybe you’re not such a bad guy. But you are past the point of being able to leave a good-looking corpse by dying young, which I’m sure is troubling for any gay man in the public eye.
- Amy Winehouse: Deduct another point for being obvious. Part of me believes she’s clinically already dead and standing upright because she’s consumed enough amphetamines to power her body for another two years. In the same way that amputees can still “feel” their phantom limbs after they’ve been removed, Amy Winehouse can still “live” past her date of death, which is likely any minute now.
Milla Goldenberg is an LA-based writer and editor. Visit her blog @ MillaTimes.com, or send her hate mail @ MillaGoldenberg@aol.com.
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