Jan. 14th, 2009

theladyrose: (Default)
The news around my f-list has been going around like wildfire: Patrick McGoohan has passed away. I am very sorry to report that Ricardo Montalban has passed away today, too.

I found out the news just before going to my first death and dying class. Irony can be rather indifferently cruel.

I don't cry over deaths, generally - it took me 5 years before I could even shed a tear for Cathy. I spent most of class this afternoon dabbing at my eyes.

Many friends and I have lost a hero today, and many others around the world are mourning his loss.

It is a true privilege to have such a dynamic role model to whom I aspire. As corny as it sounds, his creative work as an actor, writer and filmmaker have left an indelible imprint on my life and have changed me for the better by giving me a greater sense of empathy, perserverance and appreciation of life's complexity. The characters he portrayed made such an impact on me, and I honestly don't know of anyone else whose acting mattered to me so much and have actually caused me to reevaluate how I view the world. My liberalism and beliefs about justice were largely shaped by the Prisoner and Danger Man, which is every bit as thought-provoking and morally ambiguous as the former if you watch carefully.

He inspired us to think more critically about the roles that institutions play in regulating, however covertly or overtly, our thoughts and behaviors, to accept the unsettling but ultimately necessary ambiguity that hangs over so many of our decisions, to recognize the human capacity to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. If such lessons seem grandiose, it's because his work transcended the boundaries of intelligent entertainment and make for philosophical material that keep us debating and thinking to this day. He had the clout and the chutzpah to make a pop medium like television political without being explicitly so, thought-provoking and actually meaningful, even if the messages were often ambivalent. He made snarky paranoid eccentricity cool. There wasn't a role of his that I didn't enjoy tremendously that provided a bright spot in even mediocre settings (OK, maybe Brass Target. But that movie just stunk, period). His incredible integrity, personal and artistic, sets a standard worth following for all of us.

Death gives us the opportunity to come together to honor a life that has made ours so much richer. I can only hope that generations to come will discover what an incredible legacy he has left. If there is an afterlife, I can only hope that it's giving him a king's welcome.

Patrick McGoohan, you will always be a hero to me, and for that I am grateful.


theladyrose: (Default)

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