Philip_Seymour_Hoffman_2011Years ago, I watched a movie called Love Liza in which Philip Seymour Hoffman played a grief-stricken widower who starts huffing gasoline fumes. Hoffman’s desperation, his despair was so vivid I actually felt ill, as if I were also breathing in those toxic fumes. I didn’t know at that time about his history of addiction, and I’m not sure it even matters. He was quite simply a brilliant actor. His portrayal of Truman Capote, who I once dined with when I was 19, was so perfectly crafted it was as if he had reached into the Great Beyond, pulled Capote into his body, and let him stay there for the duration of the film.

I wish I could say that the cruel comments on line (especially Twitter) following the news of Hoffman’s death were shocking. Sadly, they weren’t; these are the times we live in. But I don’t think we should let them slip past us as if they don’t matter. So I have something to say to the hateful, disrespectful people who posted idiotic comments about a man who valiantly battled his demons and in the end lost the battle. I have something to say to LeVar Burton who chose that moment to make a crass “joke” about the fact that Mr. Hoffman was not fully dressed when his body was found. (To be fair, Burton did ultimately apologize.)

All of you have, collectively and individually, revealed how incredibly ignorant you are about addiction and have shown how ugly imperious arrogance is. Is your superiority based on the fact that you don’t think you have any addictions? Or that if you did, you wouldn’t fall prey to them? I would suggest that you do have an addiction — to slash-and-burn cruelty played out in the cowardly environment of Twitter, where you never have to look anyone in the eye. Would LeVar Burton have made his tasteless comment if he was standing in front of Mr. Hoffman’s children? Or his girlfriend of many years? I doubt it.

The demons that drive a human being into drug addiction never go away. They can be pushed back, made quieter, but they’re just lying dormant, waiting for a moment to howl and haunt and conquer once again. You want to see what courage looks like? Look into the eyes of someone who has battled those demons and has managed to drive them back — in Mr. Hoffman’s case, for 23 years — knowing that if weakness creeps in they will rise up like fire-breathing dragons. Being an addict means you are always living with dragons and praying that you can be stronger than them. They don’t care if you’re rich, or successful, or amazingly talented. They don’t care if you have children, or loving friends, or everything to live for. They just care if you have a moment of weakness.

So for all the people spewing their hatred in 140 characters or less, look hard into your own eyes. I don’t think you’ll see courage there. The demons living in you are sneakier, more reptilian. They lie still until you sit at the keyboard, and then they turn venomous. The legacy of Philip Seymour Hoffman will be one of  stunning talent and a brave battle that he lost at a heartbreakingly young age. Those who responded to his death with venom will be known only for that.




  1. tom slocum says:

    excellent post..I believe, he also died from a “Broken Heart”..

  2. Patti –

    You seem to hit the nail on the head so often I shouldn’t be surprised, but your insight, compassion, and clarity of understanding strikes me force again and again with each blog post.

    I think what I see is that when the others are quick to judge, you’re more interested in understanding. When others lash out, you reach out. And when others are flip, you seek a deeper truth.

    PSH was first a person, human, with gifts and faults alike, and while others leaped beyond that, you honored that.

    Well done, Patti.

    – Brian

  3. Marc Hoover says:

    I think the world would be a much better place if people who had NO CLUE what they were talking about didn’t express opinions, hateful or otherwise. I’m not an expert on the man’s career, and don’t know anything about his history of drug use. An argument can be made, in my judgement, that some people who use drugs don’t necessarily have demons, but that doesn’t have anything to do with this specific case.
    Going back to the start of your second paragraph, of course any cruel comments on-line, including twitter, are never shocking, although I haven’t made it a point to follow them. After all, the last time I weighed in here it was in response to your experience and (in some cases) grotesque and sickening twitter comments you’d been the recipient of.
    Going back to the start of MY first paragraph, even if people DO have a clue of what they’re talking about, what they think there is to be gained by making cruel comments in the wake of anyone’s death is beyond me. It can only do them more harm than good.
    Happy 103rd to your dad tomorrow! My maternal grandmother was born in on a farm near Walnut, which, according to mapquest is about 14 miles from Tampico! Cheers!

  4. Dr. Philip Seymour Hoffman, had the courage to take his life, after suffering within for so many years, of being a recovering Drug Addict. Leaving behind a family of beautiful children, and a lovely partner for 15 years..are the one’s that will really be suffering and asking why, do they deserve this terrible loss. Philip Sey,mour Hoffman, was one of the most talented actors of his time, and ours, and he knew that, he did not want this to happen to I have worked with celebrity addicts..being alcoholics, or seems the ones that really benefit, and make these people the fools, are the people who sell them the drugs…the disgusting, roaches of people who could not care less of perhaps trying to stop or help one that might die ..because of the drugs that they are getting paid for..the PUSHERS…the CARTELS..who supply..the suppliers..Let me at them..just for one minute..and yeah..give me that gun…I never had ..or ever my life.or ever will….so I can maime him or them..for the rest of their lives..that’s all I want to do…R.I.P. Dr Philip Seymour Hoffman..we all will miss you..for sure….

  5. Andrea Saint James says:

    I am not speaking so much about the tragedy of PSH, but I am wondering how people can live with themselves after spewing such venom & hatred aimed at the misfortune at others. It seems to be rampant on social media sites. I shouldn’t be, but I am always shocked at public evil.

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