Saturday, February 13, 2010

American Heroes and Myths of Hollywood

Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mold-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of "the rat race" is not yet final.

-- HUNTER S. THOMPSON, 1937-2005
For many Americans, movie stars and the like have become our pantheon, and the mirage of Hollywood our Olympus. We have, perhaps, lost touch with the function of art because so many have lost touch with the function of myth. However, it is impossible to ignore the way that mythology overruns the life of popular artists and musicians. Hunter S. Thompson was reported to have said that he found it difficult being "just Hunter," because everyone expected him to be Dr. Gonzo. Numerous, often bizarre theories abound about the deaths of such characters, as if to say that as their myth lives on, so must they. Perhaps Elvis Presley, Jimmi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Michael Jackson all grew tired of their mythologies and attempted to escape it through some brilliant faked death, jamming out together on a tropical island somewhere. More likely, the price of living their myth overran them in various ways, and they all paid the price that often comes along with being burned into the cultural consciousness.  

(An excerpt from one of the essays I'm working on for Immanence of Myth.) 

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