Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Death of River Phoenix

River Phoenix often hinted at a childhood marred by sexual abuse, later claiming to have blocked it out; as a child his family belonged to the Children of God cult, about whom Phoenix subsequently had nothing good to say, and around which rumours of child abuse of every kind have always swirled...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDespite the best intentions of the conscious mind, however, the subconscious never forgets. As good and well-meaning as Phoenix was in the present he was still being stalked by an awful trauma from the past; prone to fits of depression, he gradually began to self-medicate in order to deal with feelings of which he may not even have been aware.

Not helping matters was the matter of young fame, renowned for its toxicity, as well as having been raised after leaving the cult as a hippie (which he himself likened to the role he played in 1986's The Mosquito Coast); insufficiently vaccinated with the antibodies to fame that eventually saved his contemporaries from their own self-immolation, Phoenix quickly spiralled out of control.

More than just a lovely young man (both inside and out) died on this day in 1993 - at the age of just 23 - on the pavement outside the Viper Room... A promising career went with him as well.

From his early appearances in 1986's Stand by Me, to his shot-in-Vancouver A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988), to later work in My Own Private Idaho and Dogfight (both 1991), Phoenix's fifteen movie roles are imbued with a certain compassion for the suffering which is inherent in the human condition. There's no telling what he might have accomplished had he lived, only wondering...
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