Critic displays lack of tact with Ledger's passing

Many in the entertainment industry had similar reactions to the tragic death of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger last Tuesday. They displayed sadness, shock and expressed deepest condolences and sympathies to Ledger's family and particularly to his two-year-old daughter. With the sudden and inexplicable passing of such a young and promising Hollywood talent, we were reeling.

Well, everyone except New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick.

On the day of Ledger's death, Lumenick wrote of the actor, "It's always a tragedy when a 28-year-old dies, but I wasn't totally surprised. He spent the last decade throwing away opportunities any young actor would die for."

Here's the full entry, courtesy of Lumenick's New York Post blog:

I was in the security line at Salt Lake City International Airport when I got the news that Heath Ledger was found dead today in his Lower Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose. Our paths crossed only once, when I interviewed Heath for The Four Feathers. All I remember is that he seemed hung over on a Sunday morning, blew smoke in my face and make it very clear he wasn't there voluntarily to promote his film.

Ledger was Oscar nominated for Best Actor for his fine and sensitive performance in Brokeback Mountain, but he did the film and his candidacy no favors by joking about his discomfort with homosexuality in many interviews. When Ledger, whose career had pretty much flatlined at that point, won his first award for Brokeback, he didn't bother showing up to collect it at the New York Film Critics Circle gala.

It's always a tragedy when a 28-year-old dies, but I wasn't totally surprised. He spent the last decade throwing away opportunies any young actor would die for. Ledger's death leaves a big marketing problem for Warner Bros., since Ledger plays the Joker in one of their biggest summer releases, The Dark Knight.

I understand that Lumenick was possibly attempting, as many critics do, to play the devil's advocate in the wake of tributes and solemn broadcasts. But the man went too far. He crossed a line that should never have even been approached. Lumenick criticizes Ledger on the basis of his single meeting with the actor -- that of an interview. And while I might see how Lumenick could feel bitter towards Ledger, does his petty resentment warrant criticism on the day of Ledger's death? More importantly, does it warrant criticism devoid of sympathies for Ledger's family and loved ones? For his daughter?

Who in the right mind discusses the marketing trouble of The Dark Knight mere hours after its leading actor is pronounced dead? Who disparages someone's reputation with the support of a single meeting years prior? And just who the hell has the right to slander an actor's short-lived career just as it begins to blossom?

Apparently, Lou Lumenick.

Lumenick is a perpetrator of the notion that critics are heartless snobs. He views Ledger's death as marketing trouble, a speed-bump in the production of a film. At the very most, it's a shame.

I'll admit, Lumenick is a very talented writer and a top-notch reviewer, one who, until very recently, I respected and ranked among the best. But I find it hard now to read or take to heart anything he writes. I've left my thoughts in the form of a comment on Lumenick's blog, and I urge those reading to do the same. It's been nearly a week, and Lumenick hasn't so much as addressed his severe blunder.

Lumenick, you've lost yourself a reader. What a shame.

Speak out. Respond to Lou Lumenick. Here's the original post.


  1. Yeah. That's pretty much the epitome of tactless. And it seems as though he's using his Ledger's death as a chance to vent about his one lousy experience with him. I mean, come on. Everyone has a bad day. He shouldn't base Ledger's quality as a human being on that one experience. And everyone else seems to be genuine in their speaking out about his humble, kind demeanor.

    And regardless of whether you have a good experience with someone or not, you don't use their death as an opportunity to make cheap shots without regard for the family.

    So far as the allegations regarding Ledger's alleged discomfort with homosexuality -- I might be wrong, but I seem to remember a quote regarding the love scenes between him and Gyllenhal where he said something to the effect of "Why would I be uncomfortable? It's just kissing another human being." That's not the exact quote, but it's the gist of what he said.

    AND, it hasn't even been proven that Ledger committed suicide. The pills might have not been meant to be taken together and he simply didn't know. To pass judgment on Ledger as though the jury is already in is simply bad journalism. Lumenick seems to be assuming the worst because it makes his job - criticizing - easier, and it gives a bad rep to journalists everywhere.

  2. Very good. Now tell that to Lumenick.

  3. I completely agree with you, to a degree (I just like oxymorons - is that a crime?) - Ledger's passing is of the most prominent and talented actor my ADHD memory can conjure; condolences should go out to his family and fans, and disgust should be hurled at our capitalist drugs-to-make-you-normal culture.
    Let me just make one point, as dangerous as that seems to be, seeing as this is your dojo with your beliefs embroidered into the complementary towels - the blame for Heath's untimely death can be placed on no one's shoulders but his own.
    This is more obvious if his death is a suicide, which, to an extent, we'll never truly know except for the assurances of a coroner's expert guess. But even if it was an accidental overdose (I don't think anyone's claiming foul play - right?), then the blame must be set squarely on Ledger's lack of caution with prescription pills, more deadly than any recreational drug like cigs or weed, and as deadly as beer if you factor in the deception inherent with the 'safety' attributed to prescription pills..
    Unlike Lumenick, I was very surprised and saddened by Heath's passing. He was exceptional in 10 Things I Hate About You and A Knight's Tale, and I expect even greater mastery from The Dark Knight, and trailers of said marvel (pun intended) reinforce my faith in Ledger's excellence.
    So whether his death was, as the Joker would say, "All part of the plan," or an awful tragedy, his absence will be felt, his teenage rebellion, which had only begun to flower into its energetic and talented adulthood, will be missed.
    At least by me.


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