Tony Scott Dies: Nobody Notices
Tony Scott is dead. What have we learned?
I don’t mean to come off as impersonal, and rest assured I send all my prayers and well wishes to the family of Mr. Scott, but I just find the way we react to deaths, from a Hollywood point of view, really bizarre.
If it were any other day, and Tony Scott didn’t die, you might of fired up your computer and thought that maybe Mr. Scott was finally going to be honored by the AFI or BFI or any other prestigious film institution. What other reason would there be for his name to be across the front page of so many websites and film blogs? Sadly, death seems to be the only way to open up discussion of an actors, writers, director, or producers body of work nowadays, at least in a serious way apart from box office tallies. Before the body is even cold, we are pouring over the titles in their film library. In a horribly backward way of procedure, death it seems has become the means solely for career retrospective. The where, when, who and how of the death are discarded and pushed aside save for cursory hollow lamentations offered up on the alter of “senseless” tragedy and fashionable grieving.
Post-mortem the focus shifts quickly from the unimportant (the loss of human life) to the important (the discussion of the work the life produced). This is a truly Hollywood way of grieving and is very remote from the way most people in the real world grieve (in death the work one does becomes immediately trivial or at the very least a detail or showcase through which their character was displayed; i.e. – “John was a good man and a devoted husband and father. He carried that same devotion to everything he did, both in work and life. He’ll be missed”). Of course when viewed from an artistic standpoint, taking stock of an artist work after death is a natural and valid tendency, as the work that an artist produces is usually of such a personal nature that it is a great tool in deciphering who they were as a human being. However, even when viewed in an artistic standpoint the work of an artist should only be remembered as an enrichment of an artists life and not the only defining trait, as if they were born with a paintbrush, instrument or camera in hand.
Yes Tony Scott was a director who had a very long and fiscally successful career, but he was also a man with the capacity for hope, hate, fear, love, joy and peace like any other. We of the film community will of course remember him in the scope of his work, but we should not be so willing to bury the man and way he lived or died under his accomplishments. Even if our information of him is not of an intensely personal nature we should still be able to say more of a mans life or death than what movies he directed. We risk taking the humanity out our ourselves and our art if we neglect the livelihood of a person in lieu of their personal/professional art. When I ask what did we learn from Tony Scott’s death, I hope the answer will not be that “Crimson Tide” was a really good movie, and “Domino” was totally underrated. I hope instead people will take note of how vital it is, to have a center and balance in your life. I hope we will realize how important it is to seek the priceless value of a peace of mind, and I pray we would learn to cherish contentment beyond the striving for material gain and worldly achievements. May it be said that we could delight in the precious splendor of life even in the face of tragedy, chaos, or even terminal brain cancer.
Mainly I hope that those of us who follow cinema and various art forms, can be said to have a personal nature that runs opposite to what many detractors of Tony Scott’s work used to proclaim; “Style and no substance”.