BRITTANY MURPHY: As we reported yesterday and everyone in the entire world has since reported 5,000 more times, Brittany Murphy died yesterday at the age of 32 from Cardiac Arrest. As reports slowly trickle in, we’re wondering if perhaps this tragedy might open up an opportunity for people to talk about how culture’s obsession with thinness is actually killing people. (If you haven’t read it already, Appetites by Caroline Knapp should be required reading for all human beings.)
Also, is it weird that we’re still talking about it? Well, in addition to being genuine fans of Brittany’s and thinking she was sexy, we have a theory! Aside from Aaliyah’s death in 2001 at the age of 22 (plane crash), this is the first American female celeb approximately our age (give or take a few years) to suddenly pass away, and unlike Aaliyah, Murphy wasn’t the victim of a tragic accident, or necessarily even a “victim” in the strictest definition of the word. Although technically it seems awfully arbitrary that culture has chosen actors & actresses to serve as common reference points and symbolic entities worthy of our endless fascination & subsequent projection, it is what it is. Brittany was in so many of the movies and TV shows that defined our pop cultural generation, from Blossom to Sister Sister to Clueless to Girl Interrupted to 8 Mile. Many of us on Team Autostraddle grew up right alongside her (if only a few years behind).
So perhaps we feel whatever ailed her, which the autopsy will reveal, is something that perhaps ailed us too, or ailed our friends; growing up in approximately the same universe. Of course her death isn’t “more tragic” than that of the thousands of women each year who die of anorexia. But just as Heath Ledger raised interesting questions about prescription drug control and Natasha Richardson made us all think twice about saying “I’m fine” after violently whacking our heads against something, Murphy may prove to be our first example of the worst case scenario proclamations so freely flung about when gossiping about other “troubled” stars such as Britney Spears & Lindsay Lohan. The sickest part? Perez Hilton himself made such a declaration about Brittany Murphy a few weeks back. Maybe Michael Lohan will think twice next time before opening his trap.
Though a cause of death has yet to be determined, it’s interesting that drugs is the first suspected culprit. Perhaps most people aren’t aware that eating disorders in and of themselves can cause heart failure — and that the years of speculation about an eating disorder often affirms, rather than detracts, from the anoretic’s pursuit — being under suspicion wouldn’t have ever made her eat.
From People Magazine: “A lot of [Murphy's] problems were due to poor self image. She wore extraordinary amounts of makeup, tons of fake eyelashes, got her teeth capped, dyed her hair blonde, lost weight – she wanted to be a beauty. She didn’t want to be the fat girl from Clueless. She didn’t eat a lot. She would drink copious amounts of coffee.”
Amy Heckerling: “She seemed to go through a change on Clueless,” Heckerling told an entertainment blog Sunday. “Maybe she felt like she was not the, like, skinny, pretty girl, you know? And then the next few movies she was, you know, thinner, blonde … going out with Eminem and Ashton Kutcher.”
Eating Disorder Statistics: 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover.
TMZ: At 10:30 AM, TMZ has learned the L.A. County Coroner is currently conducting an autopsy on Brittany Murphy, despite the wishes of her husband Simon Monjack.
Brittany Murphy was very ill in the hours before she went into cardiac arrest and died, sources tell TMZ: “We’re told Murphy was taking prescription meds for flu-like symptoms she had been experiencing for several days. We’re told Murphy began vomiting early Sunday morning and told family members she was feeling very ill.”
NY Daily News: “He said an autopsy was underway Monday but that it would take four to eight weeks for toxicology results to come back. A final cause of death is pending the tests.
OhNoTheyDidnt: Celebrities react to the death of Brittany Murphy on Twitter.
Radar Online: In a bizarre twist, Brittany Murphy’s home that she died in was once owned by Britney Spears. Weirder yet, the fact that Britney spears spells her name “Britney” instead of “Brittany” has made us mis-type Brittany Murphy’s name like ten times in the last 24 hours without even thinking.
One India October 29, 2009: “Actress Brittany Murphy reportedly raised alarm recently by shouting she heard gunfire outside her Hollywood house … Cops suggested that the noise must have come from a noisy generator. Murphy’s representative maintained silence over the incident.”
Entertainment Wise Feb 2008: “She’s extremely difficult. When she gets to the set, it comes to a grinding halt. She’s so hot and cold, you never know. Among her alleged list of requirements includes diagonally cut peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts removed.”
Introspection & Tribute:
Jezebel’s “Girl, Interrupted”: “It’s something we’ve watched in progress throughout this entire decade: young women who are held up as the next big thing (Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears) and then brushed aside or openly mocked after they no longer fit an expected mold. It is both a story of self-destruction and mass-destruction, the business of creating and destroying a star; sometimes it’s caused by internal forces, and sometimes it’s fed by the rest of the world.”
Salon – Brittany Murphy’s sad, sudden end: “But whether she was playing a penguin or a beauty contestant, Brittany Murphy, who died Sunday morning at the cruelly young age of 32, took every role she played and made her characters loveable and flawed and startlingly, daringly human … Few actresses of her generation or any other possessed such unselfconscious tenderness… Imagine how, had she been given the chance, she could have grown into a charismatic character actress with a durable career, a slightly daffier Susan Sarandon. Instead, she’ll be remembered as the ebullient, forever young woman with a knack for playing ladies who didn’t fully fit in this cold world, but who loved it wholeheartedly, unguardedly regardless.”
Gawker TV: A Look Back at Brittany Murphy’s Best Roles, including this one from Boy Meets World:
GAGA: Los Angeles Gaga fans may be in for a surprise –“Although Gaga’s rep won’t confirm the news, a source reveals that Beyoncé and Kanye West will be joining the singer onstage for a song or two.” (@eonline) EXCUSE US WHILE WE RUN AND DIE OF JEALOUSY
BEST OF: You want year-end lists? We’ve got year-end lists. Well, firstly we’ve got our own 10 Best and 10 Worst Gay Happenings of 2009. Andrea’s got All The Gay Things That Happened in 2009, and Dorothy Surrenders got a little roundtable going with her AE cohorts on Gay Crushes of the Decade. Vulture has Your Best Performances of 2009 From Jay-Z to Jon Stewart. Largehearted Boy has a complete list of every list about the best books of the decade and the best books of 2009.. AfterEllen has its 2009 Visibility Awards. i09 presents The Most Important Events Of 2000-2009, Comic Style. More TK.
AVATAR: “When will white people stop making movies like Avatar?” – “This is a classic scenario you’ve seen in non-scifi epics from Dances With Wolves to The Last Samurai, where a white guy manages to get himself accepted into a closed society of people of color and eventually becomes its most awesome member … If we think of Avatar and its ilk as white fantasies about race, what kinds of patterns do we see emerging in these fantasies?” (@io9) At fourfour, Rich weighs in on his feelings about Avatar and the race issues. (@fourfour)
RIHANNA: Rihanna & Jay-Z heated up Rockefeller Center. The main reason I am drawing your attention to this story is because even though it might be fur (?) that she’s wearing, this picture makes us want to cuddle with Rihanna real bad 4ever and ever.
ASK RO: Via Oh No They Didn’t:
MERRY CHRISTMAS: So this is on somebody’s lawn: Santa is shown dead on the ground with X’s over his eyes. Standing over Santa and staring down the barrel of his shotgun is Jesus. And the dead, limp body of Rudolph is strewn over the back of a pickup truck. According to Ron Lake, who set this all up, “Christmas isn’t about Santa; it’s about Jesus,” he said. “It’s an expression of my repressed creativity.” (@komonews)