Saturday, June 27, 2009
Remembering the Fabulous Farrah
I wasn't planning to write a tribute post on Farrah Fawcett because I really didn't know much about her. However, Friday after work, I decided to hook up my digital converter box so I could watch any possible memorial programs about Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. That turned out to be a frustrating exercise. The strange thing is that I was able to get my analog TV to play the new digital signal. But it only picks up CBS, NBC, OPB, and about five evangelical Christian channels. I wanted my favourite station (ABC) but my TV won't pick it up. I'm not happy about that.
Anyhow, so I was able to catch the documentary film about Farrah Fawcett's struggles with cancer and the papanazis. I was actually interested enough to watch the whole thing and really felt sad for this beautiful woman who endured five years of fighting cancer and finding hope in remissions only to see its reemergence. There were many fascinating tidbits in this documentary that are worthy of mention.
The first one is that she went to Germany frequently to receive treatment in fighting the disease. The other night, President Obama had a Town Hall meeting on Health Care reform (his big push this summer). Opponents of a national health care system always knock the Canadian and European health care system as "socialism" and say that its a bad thing. They cite incidents of people coming to the U.S. just to be treated in our "excellent" hospitals. However, the best quote I ever heard on our health care system is "we have the best health care in the world...if you're rich." Yet, here's this pretty well off celebrity going to Europe to get treatment. What's up with that? She did this, even though her doctor did not recommend that she fly back to the U.S. so soon after her release from the hospital's care. I'm hoping that Americans will be more sensible about the debate on health care this summer and fall. This is not 1993, with an unelected First Lady leading the charge and serving as a lightning rod of controversy. Too many Americans have found financial ruin because of a health crisis (either themselves or a family member). To me, a lack of health care insurance is a scary thing. I've read too many stories of people filing for bankruptcy after raking up huge medical bills.
The second interesting thing in this documentary was that Farrah's doctor compared cancer cells to terrorism and Farrah seemed to take to this idea and wasn't offended by the analogy. I like the idea of thinking of cancer as "terrorism." It makes sense as an analogy that might be useful in helping patients deal with their "war against cancer."
The most infuriating thing were the scenes with the papanazis in her face and the garbage printed in the National Enquirer, as well as an employee at the UCLA Medical Center releasing private patient records to the gossip rags. Hopefully that person was fired and blacklisted from working in another hospital. Some might argue that celebrities waived their rights to privacy when they became famous...but that's just jealousy talking. Sure, many people love the fame and understand that the intrusive gossip press comes with the territory. However, I believe that if a celebrity is not seeking attention, they should be afforded some privacy. There's a difference between a Lindsay Lohan getting drunk and dancing on table tops at a popular club and kissing another girl versus a Farrah Fawcett hiding behind sunglasses and a scarf, riding a wheelchair through LAX.
Unfortunately, so long as people buy these trashy tabloids, there will always be a market for the papanazis and the photos they snap of unsuspecting celebrities doing mundane things we all do. At work, one lady keeps bringing old issues of various gossip magazines to the break room for others to "enjoy." I have glaced at a few to see what the appeal is and I can't say that I see any. Its a waste of paper, newsprint, thought and energy. Its sad to me that too many women (yes, women!) buy this shit.
After the documentary, I gained a greater appreciation for Farrah Fawcett. The height of her fame was actually before my time (I was only born in the 70s. The decade doesn't interest me much). I always thought she was just another brainless beauty queen. From the documentary, she looks fun, smart, and compassionate. Once the documentary finished, NBC's Dateline featured an hour long program on Michael Jackson. This was the point when my TV lost the digital signal and now I can only watch CBS and the evangelical Christian channels (which I won't). I really wanted to watch the program on Michael Jackson. In fact, that was the entire reason why I decided to break the digital converter out of the sealed box it came in. So much for that. I won't be watching a lot of TV this summer. I'll stick with TV on DVD (I'm currently watching The West Wing Season 3 and Tell Me You Love Me; up next is Mad Men Seasons 1 and 2).
When I lived in Bellevue, Nebraska as a tween, during the summer, one of the TV channels showed Charlie's Angels in syndication. I was too young to appreciate it when the show originally aired. Besides, in the 70s, my favourite shows were Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, Batman, The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island. I remember that the TV station would make watching Charlie's Angels fun because they offered contests where the clues were in each day's episode. Not that I called in or anything. Out of the three ladies, Jaclyn Smith was by far my favourite. She seemed classy and I found her to be the most attractive. Kate Jackson came in second for me. And like I said...I thought Farrah was more beauty than brains. At the time, I was aware of her famous photo that was the most popular pin-up at the time. Maybe that sealed my impression of her. I haven't seen the show since I left Nebraska, so I might check out Season 1 on DVD just to see if the show holds up or if its so dated that I'd be bored watching it.
As for the movie versions, I didn't agree with the actress selection (not Drew Barrymore!). Then again, it would be difficult to find a younger equivalent of Jaclyn Smith. Growing up, Jaclyn Smith, Jacqueline Bisset, and Candice Bergin were the epitome of classy, attractive ladies. All three have an air of high culture and sophistication about them. I like Drew Barrymore, but thought she was wrong for the role. Cameron Diaz was hilarious, but Lucy Liu was the only one I could see as an "acceptable" Charlie's Angel (in terms of honouring the show). The sequel was the one of the worst films I had ever seen. They totally hoodwinked the audience and I was not pleased. I remember leaving theaters thinking that the makers of the film were laughing all the way to the bank about the moviegoing saps who paid money to see that tripe.
The other famous role Farrah Fawcett will be remembered for is the made-for-TV film The Burning Bed. For some strange reason I still don't understand, in high school health class, we had to watch The Burning Bed. I remember only watching it in school and it happened at least twice. The movie was good and I don't remember complaining about watching it in class, but as I reflect on my high school education from the standpoint of an adult...I'm of the opinion that schools should not waste class time showing movies at all. If teachers want to require a student see a certain film, it should be done outside of class and have a quiz or paper assignment so that the teacher knows if the student watched it. That's the state of education in America though. The Burning Bed in health class! Come on, people!
I might watch this film again since I haven't seen it in a couple decades. At the time, I remember thinking how infuriating it was that this beautiful woman remained in an abusive marriage until pushed to the breaking point where she felt she had no choice but to burn her husband alive while he's sleeping before running away with the children. It might have been my first awareness that spousal abuse does happen, but I simply could not understand why a woman would remain in such abusive relationship. Why do bad boys seem to "get" the beautiful girl and destroy her self esteem (Rihanna and Whitney Houston, for example)? Why doesn't a beautiful lady fall for the nice guy? Sheesh.
With that, I will have to say that while I certainly appreciate Farrah Fawcett's courageous fight against cancer and her wise decision to make a documentary of her struggles so people can see what its really like to fight such a devasting disease (maybe even spur on research and funding for a cure), her acting career was pretty minimal. She was more famous for her name, looks, and especially hair (even Madonna seemed to copy her style with 2005's Confessions On a Dance Floor series of music videos). She was married to the other 1970s television star Lee "Six Million Dollar Man" Majors, but her one true love is probably Ryan O'Neal.
My heart and prayers go out to the soul of Farrah Fawcett and to her family and loved ones. No more pain from those terroristic cancer cells. I hope that she rests in peace. In the documentary, she had mentioned loving the rain and wondering if she would experience rain in heaven. She hoped that God would at least let her dip her angel wings into the rain on earth. It was a lovely thought. Now, she probably knows the truth about how the spiritual world works in relation to ours. She has gone from being one of Charlie's Angels to now being one of God's. Best wishes, beautiful lady!