Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farrah Fawcett (2/2/47 - 6/25/09)

Farrah Fawcett has died at the age of 62 after a long, and very public course of medical treatment for anal cancer, which apparently is related to colon cancer. A documentary was made by a friend of hers to show Fawcett as she went through the various medical treatments, including some which were considered experimental, including flying to Germany for treatment.

At one point in the documentary, when she appeared half-dead already because she was throwing up and had lost so much weight, somebody said "Well, that's what cancer does to you." And I thought "Well, that's what chemotherapy does to you." Her friends and the people who loved her all said that she fought hard against the cancer, which struck me as a silly thing to say. You can't "beat" cancer by fighting hard, or being a good person, or being dedicated or courageous. It's a disease, not game-show competition. And the decision of how to proceed, which treatment to undergo, is clearly an agonizing one.

Farrah Fawcett seemed to come from nowhere, in the late 1970s, and immediately become a national pin-up girl. She was very pretty, and had a great body. Her pinup photo was reportedly very popular among the boys. And all the girls wanted to have their hair cut just like Farrah's.

In later years Fawcett struggled to try to be recognized for something other than her looks. She was briefly in a TV show called "Charlie's Angels," then left that and got parts in a few films, but was panned for the efforts. She had high-profile and sometimes volatile relationships with men, and was seen publicly appearing to be messed-up on drugs or alcohol, which added notoriety and brought attention of the not-too-good type. But she also acted in a few TV movies and showed that she was a very talented actress, such as "Burning Bed," in which she played the victim of spousal abuse, and "Small Change," in which she played a woman accused of murdering her own children. She also hooked up with Ryan O'Neal, himself another "burster" who gained quick and instant fame early in his career then seemed to have descended into the tacky problems of alcohol, relationship issues, and screwed-up, neglected, abandoned kids. A very sad story on both parts.

Farrah Fawcett was embraced by the revisionist, reactionary forces who were reasserting control of the nation in the late 1970s, the right-wing that would soon re-invent history to claim that the U.S. "lost" the war in Vietnam because we didn't try hard enough, that people who smoke marijuana become serial killers, that women who have sex before marriage are sluts, that "real men" are still cowboys or marines and long hair is for homosexuals. The morons, in other words. The same group of people who would soon put the senile B-movie actor Ronald Reagan into office to loot and bankrupt the country and sponsor death squads throughout central America. The same group of people who later put George W. Bush into office. Those people.

I think they wanted to resurrect the Marilyn Monroe image of the 1940s and 50s, the idea that women should either wear house dresses with heels and stay home to clean and cook and raise kids, or they should be sex kittens, pinups, for the sexual gratification of men when they leave home, and go out into the world. She was from Texas, she had all-American blonde (and sexy) looks, and these men could look at her and pretend that it was 1950 again, and all was right in the world.

Of course this has nothing to do with her. She was just another young, pretty woman who was offered fame and fortune to pose for some sexy photos, and probably never imagined that it would govern and maybe destroy much of the rest of her life.

She was 62 years old. She had cancer. She died from it. That's pretty young, and it's very sad.

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