Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Phil Spector: murderer

If there is a positive element of this tragic story, it's the way that the case proceeded with a reasonable amount of dignity, without being swallowed up by a ridiculous media circus. This verdict has been six years in the making, and even though Phil Spector is hardly an A-list celebrity these days, the details of the case (B-movie starlet vs the cocaine-snorting gun-wielding former Tycoon of Teen) could have provided years worth of tabloid-worthy fodder. Hey, it's not like Robert Blake meant anything before he decided to murder somebody.

I suppose I should feel sadness or pity or anger about all of this, but I don't really feel anything at all. We've always known that Spector was nuts, so how does today's guilty verdict change anything? We're not talking about a beloved hero persona like OJ Simpson or Chris Benoit who woke up one day and caused our perceptions of them to change forever. Tales of Christmas cards laced with cocaine and of holding musicians hostage in studios at gunpoint might make for good rock and roll stories, but here in the real world, we know that a guy like that is nothing but a raging asshole bully who was lucky to have not been in serious trouble with the law a long time ago. When I first heard that Phil Spector was accused of murder, I wasn't the least bit surprised, and now that he's been found guilty (assuming we've heard the last of the story, and who the hell knows at this point) I'm also not the least bit surprised. Had he been acquitted I wouldn't have been too surprised either, and it still wouldn't have changed my perception of Spector too much. Rather than live out his life as a recluse in a big, gated, impenetrable mansion fortress, he'll live it out as a recluse in a big, gated, impenetrable jail. Again, has anything really changed?

But there's more to it than just, ahem, living up to expectations. Everyone knew that Kurt Cobain was a suicidal gun-toting lunatic, but his suicide was shocking all the same. Except that Cobain was an extremely public figure -- even if he didn't want to be -- and the truly shocking thing wasn't that he pulled the trigger (or was capable of such an act), it was that one of the world's most famous rock stars was able to simply disappear for days before ultimately killing himself. Spector's life has been led behind airtight doors for so long, it's almost like him and everyone around him ceases to be a real human being, instead they're all like characters in a movie, and we're absolved from having normal feelings about anything that happens to them.

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