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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Stars Shining Bright Above You

Look, I get why everyone is gleefully clicking and sharing and tagging me. Did you see? You gotta see. I get it. In my circle I'm known to be a flag-waving, card-carrying, true-blue Generation X pop culture maven, my latchkey kid, TV-addled brain way overloaded with massive volumes of useless trivia in such subjects as Schoolhouse Rock, Spandex, when to use gel versus mousse, Madonna, Ronald Reagan's policies, the right way to make a mix tape, Oliver North, new wave, Tiger Beat Star and more details about The Brady Bunch than any normal person ever needs to know. It's not good, nor is it useful in any practical way in life, it's just how I do all this shit. But I don't want to make fun of Corey Feldman.


Setting aside the fact that I've already seen him sing and dance on YouTube easily 8 or so years ago, so this 80s child star sideshow isn't news to me, more importantly, it's not funny to me. You know what I see when Corey Feldman is on the screen? A person who is not well. I've been down that deep, dark hole of batshit crazy, and everything about his behavior is looking pretty serious to me.

Imagine living in Corey Feldman's head. He's thoughtful and intelligent, emotional, he's always been eccentric. Imagine already being a differently-wired kind of kid, navigating the substance-fueled gauntlet of fame that took so many lives. Imagine growing to your teens, 20s, 30s and 40s and regularly getting phone calls with news that another contemporary is dead. River Phoenix is dead. Dana Plato is dead. Corey Haim is dead. Heath Ledger is dead. Brittany Murphy is dead. Michael Jackson is dead. Cobain. Whitney. Farley. If even half of the stories are true, it's a miracle that Corey Feldman wasn't one of the headlines.


It's a relief that we still have Drew Barrymore, Johnny Depp, Robert Downy Jr., who endured the gauntlet but eventually broke free. Some made it out, but were never quite right after the the tumult of that punishingly harsh workover on the body and brain. Danny Bonaduce talks about it all the time. Too many drugs too easy to get, too much booze, plus a warped lifestyle and a mercurial psyche. All that stuff rewires your brain. So many of these kids missed the gold ring on the merry-go-round of "normal." To hear the stories of the survivors and the RIP's, it sounds hard, and it sounds lonely and crowded at the same time.

Nancy Reagan's exuberant "Just Say No" pamphlets were a fucking joke, Robin Williams probably used them to snort cocaine. Back then it seemed like there was some sheen of badassery about just not giving a fuck how you get through your day, as long as the show goes on. Wasn't the mere mention of a celebrity's name in the same sentence as "Betty Ford" an instant punchline?

Today there is more tangible, actual help available. More rehab, less recklessness. More yoga and veganism, less hookers and blow. The realities of mental illness are surfacing, the general public is learning the connection between depression and heroin, anxiety and booze. 

It's weird when your brain stops working. When I had my breakdown in February 2014, I thought I had figured out the answer to world peace. I thought it was whispered to me in the night by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose death had been announced that day. I was positive that he picked me to tell the world what he found out in the afterlife. I posted some weird stuff on Facebook. My friends must have all known that I was losing my mind, but to me, it was just a thing that was happening as clearly as cooking dinner or doing the laundry. You don't realize while it's happening that synapses are misfiring and you're losing touch with reality.

See, I don't think Corey knows that he isn't a dancer. He doesn't get that lurching around on stage like the drunkest uncle at a wedding is strange behavior. I think he thinks he's doing great. He might be up there thinking that he is channeling the spirit of his lost idol and friend Michael Jackson. I think after the TODAY show performance Corey expected to wake up to glowing reviews.

Doesn't Corey Feldman have people? I had people. My people saw that my behavior was escalating into weirdness, they rallied around me like an army of heroes and I got the help, and I got better. I didn't have the celebrity to go live on a world stage with a back-up band dressed as angels.

Whatever is going on, I feel bad for Corey Feldman. Yes, I can see how you think I'm your Gen-X girl for the news cycle, but no, I'm not joining in the "let's all make fun of Corey Feldman" festivities. He's a contemporary in trouble. I've liked Corey ever since he was Reggie in The Bad News Bears. We were 9 years old.

Winning.
Hey, I might be totally wrong. Maybe Corey Feldman, having gotten clean and sober years ago, is now perfectly rational and clear-headed and this is all just a wild shot taken by an eccentric celebrity to make headlines and test boundaries, like what Miley Cyrus did with the weird protruding tongue and all that twerking.

Could be, but do you really think? Does that sound right to you?

Okay, maudlin soapbox session complete. Next time I pull out the Generation X game board I promise we'll go back to discussing why, dear God, why the hell did Jennifer Grey think it was a good idea to get a nose job.