matthew modine has not died.
but let’s backtrack…
my parents were confused by the response to the death of robin williams. they asked me- because aren’t we all, for our parents, The Voice Of Our Generation?-
what was going on. why did everyone care about robin williams so much?
i didn’t share the response to this particular celebrity death- though i loved the birdcage as an adult, i’ve never seen dead poet’s society and had phased out of disney after the little mermaid and was, by the release of aladdin, moving on to other things…
nonetheless i got it.
when i told my parents it would be like if ed asner or mary tyler moore died, they nodded sagely, for they knew what havoc such a thing would wreck upon my inner life.
because there’s a connection we feel to celebrities, these people we do not know.
but there’s somewhat different nuances, i think, within the attachments we form to celebrities when we’re kids.
they’re forged more deeply, more intimately woven within us. perhaps because, when we are young, there’s an even more pronounced suspension of disbelief.
hence, robin williams.
MISTER ROGERS. (dear god, you guys, MISTER ROGERS…)
an example: just about once a month, i am moved over the fact that davy jones is dead.
(it’s been 2 1/2 years.)
it’s easy to say this is because i’m morbid and i go to cemeteries and write about a dead woman for fun. there’s that: the fact that i am weird.
but, looking beyond my eccentricities, it’s also because davy jones is deeply connected to the memory of being at my gran’s after school with a glass of milk and 7 vanilla wafers and watching the brady bunch.
i love elvis but elvis has always been dead to me. these people- davy jones, robin williams, MISTER ROGERS (don’t ask why i’m capping. idk. it seems necessary.) these people were alive.
they were alive when we were little and it was even easier to believe that when they looked out from whatever screen they were on, they were speaking to us.
there’s an amazing anecdote in an article i read a zillion years ago and have never forgotten. (in part because it is amazing but also in part because my mother has conflated it with a story of a friend whose sunday school teacher starred on the guiding light and now she believes i knew someone who was taught sunday school by fred rogers.)
the essay was written by a woman who’d grown up living next door to the real fred rogers. she wrote of how she and her brother would, every day, watch mister rogers’ neighborhood and, when he asked at the end won’t you be my neighbor? they’d shout at the screen: we already are!
these people we don’t know, we grew up with them.
they are our neighbors.
yeah, we grew up and maybe we moved away or maybe they did, but still they’re woven into us.
that is, i think, a part of the loss here. the difference between the kids we were then and that kid within the adults we are now…
matthew modine was my first celebrity boyfriend.
for reference, he looked like this:
when i looked like this:
he was before c. thomas howell and (ever so briefly) elton john and jonathan brandis and zack morris and patrick kennedy and tommy cruise and alan cumming and michael hutchence and adam clayton and leonardo dicaprio and eugene and adrien brody.
before all that crowd there was matthew modine.
you are maybe like WHO?!
let me explain.
that poster ain’t lying. it IS una adventura extraordinaria.
remember the outsiders? that francis ford coppola movie that was pretty much the same movie as gettysburg except that it occurred in the 80s and starred charlie sheen, emilio estevez, matt dillon, tom cruise, the swayze, ralph macchio and rob lowe instead of martin sheen, tom berrenger, sam elliot and jeff daniels? well, memphis belle is pretty much the outsiders, except it takes place in WWII germany and stars my man matthew modine, tate donovan, d.b. sweeney, billy zane, eric stoltz, sean astin, and harry connick, jr.
so matthew modine made that and then he made and the band played on, which- given my twin loves of memphis and morbidity- pretty much sealed my love for him.
but then, like you do as a teenage girl, i fell in love with leo dicap and tommy cruise and my love for matthew modine would only be trotted out on special occasions, much like the poetry of cassius clay, when i wanted to be ironic and impress new acquaintances in college with the obscurity of the things i love.
and people would be like who? and i would be like you don’t even know.
which is why when this morning, pre-coffee, as i opened facebook and flipped to another screen and there flashed before me a headline under “trending” that- to my bleery uncaffeinated self- made it appear matthew modine was “trending”, my first thought- whilst i held my breath waiting for the screen to click back- was that matthew modine had died.
because he must have died, right? why else would matthew modine trend? if one is not beyonce or taylor swift or a legitimate newsmaker on the world stage, then you have to die or do something incredibly offensive to be trendy and, since i couldn’t imagine matthew modine being incredibly offensive, he must have died.
is this wrong? in this case yes. because matthew modine wasn’t trending at all.
matthew modine has neither died nor trended.
but what a weird world we live in that one’s first assumption on (mis)reading a name in the trending column is that the person whose name you misread has died.
if matthew modine died, would he trend? what does it mean for one’s death to trend?
to be trendy used to mean being of the moment, being hip, with it. but it also carried a negative connotation. a trend is fleeting. to trend is to be of the moment for the moment but then the moment inevitably fades away into another and the trend is left behind, irrevocably a part of the old.
it is an odd thing for a death to be a trend, non? all it really means is that we living people are chatting about it. then we chat about something else and it ceases to trend.
when a death ceases to trend does it become passé?
worse still, as a celebrity, what does it mean when one’s death doesn’t trend? obviously, you’re dead so it doesn’t matter to you, but what does it mean?
the bright eyes lyric seems apt:
But once the satellite’s deceased
It blows like garbage through the streets
Of the night sky to infinity
that’s a sour note to end on so…
in conclusion: matthew modine is alive and all is well.