A fifteen year old girl slams her bedroom door, announcing how upset she is. But instead of sobbing into her pillows, instead of writing in her diary, she sends out some darkly ominous tweets to the world, calls a suicide hotline, and then (from what we have gleaned) swallows a handful of pills and runs a knife blade across the young veins in her wrist. She’s beautiful, she’s been famous since she was born, she’s the daughter of an icon but to her he was just her father. She saw his body when he died and has heard all the accusations, the rumors, the uncomfortable facts — the stuff of life that remains after death. She’s been bullied in school and “cyber-bullied” on line. She’s spoken about that publicly, manufacturing a smile to cover the hurt. Famous kids learn that trick early. I was fourteen when my father was elected Governor of California. I remember crying myself to sleep that night, far away at my boarding school, wondering how I was ever going to figure out who I was, apart from my father’s huge shadow, and why I was put here on earth. I wrote dark poetry and signed it Raina. It sounds silly now, but nothing is silly when you’re fourteen.
People assume that the glare of fame should burn away the shadows and dark corners that lurk far beneath the skin. Like some sort of sun lamp evaporating pools of sadness before they can deepen. No one admits to thinking this, but they do. How could Paris Jackson be depressed? She doesn’t have to worry about money, or finding her next meal. She’ll probably always be famous…as if that’s a panacea for everything. TMZ quoted someone as saying, “She’s just into the drama.” The real drama is that we have collectively hardened ourselves to other human beings, especially if they’re well-known. We assume they can take it; we assume their skins are thicker, their inner resources are more developed, as if fame is some kind of clever tool that keeps pain at bay.
A young girl doesn’t cut her veins for drama; she cuts into the pain that’s been coursing through her veins for months, maybe years, hoping to make it stop.