Thursday, July 2, 2009

This man mattered, or, who are the heroes?

I came home tonight to catch the news and hopefully watch some clips of an old favorite fellow of mine who I heard, before I ran out the door, died today - Karl Malden. Needless to say, after listening through several news and entertainment programs as I worked about the house, I heard maybe one or two short sentences on each one, buried at the end of the program, and saw a flash of a picture across the screen, then it was back to more repetitive coverage of "The King of Pop." Well EXCUSE me, but this man mattered too. I admit I am not a fan of MJ and I do understand that others are. It is always sad when someone dies, especially a father with young children. But the obsessive focus of even serious news programs on this one human being leaves me feeling, hmmm, I'll call it "disgruntled" since I make it a point not to swear. And saddened.

Karl Malden lived 97 years, and even from my limited knowledge lived a full and active life up to the end. He was never accused of child molestation. He never had his lovely big nose altered and was known to be unhappy when asked to use a stage name rather than his given name of Mladen Sekulovich. I'm pretty sure he never did drugs or wandered through stores buying ridiculously useless and excessively priced items (excuse me, just a memory I have from a documentary of MJ). He served his country in the US Army Air Corps, he maintained a happy marriage for 70 years, he had children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. He worked hard and from what I understand was a gentleman who practiced kindness and humbleness. He made many acclaimed movies, he starred in a television program that earned him five Emmys and was one of my favorites of all time. He served in the Screen Actors Guild. He was fascinating to watch, a truly good steady actor.

So why does his life barely rate a blip on the screen that he gave so much to in comparison to that other person who died DAYS ago?

Who are the heroes of today and why? When you ask my girls who they admire, some of the names they mention are Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton. I am so happy about that and feel somehow I feel I did something right as a parent, though they are the ones who ultimately made their choices. I have to say they didn't even know who Michael Jackson was. Not that I purposely kept the knowledge of him a secret - it just never came up!

Who are the heroes of so many today, these people who rate countless hours of air time when they pass or do something stupid, such as Britney forgetting her underpants or Paris Hilton in jail or the beloved Miley Cyrus in a pose or situation that belies her age? Who do our children admire and want to emulate?

I will always remember you Karl, and maybe considering the mob mentality of today that rates "Speidi" as worthy of airtime, you can call it a compliment that your death went virtually unnoticed in media land. Long after the media obsessions of today have gone, you will live on through your work, as steadily and vigorously as you lived your life.