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Davis ThinkingDavis Thinking } analysis and interpretation

Did the Media Drive Owen Wilson to a Suicide Bid?

J. Kristin Ament
Monday, August 27, 2007


Ten years after Princess Diana’s Death by Paparazzi , has anything changed? Not much, I say. Case in point: the nearly tragic case of actor Owen Wilson.


Let’s take a look at how the story unfolded. Over the weekend, online gossip rags published photos of Wilson’s former girlfriend Kate Hudson and her new boyfriend, Dax Shepard, getting ridiculously amorous in that most romantic of locations, the supermarket. Within hours, a 911 call was made and emergency vehicles were dispatched to Wilson’s house to administer medical support. He then was transported to Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Soon thereafter, his brother Luke and other family members were seen entering the hospital. And this afternoon, he issued the “I respectfully ask that the media allow me to receive care and heal in private during this difficult time” statement.


We know all of this because it was reported nearly in real time by the entertainment media. And we also know, based on today’s reports, that it most likely was a suicide attempt. Media have been quick to report details of a slashed wrist, a bottle of pills, and a young, talented actor “clinging to life.”


Now, I’ll admit that I read entertainment sites every day. But at what point is this type of coverage too much? What if Wilson was driven to the brink by seeing the “in your face” photos of his former love with her new man splashed all over the Internet? Of course, that’s all speculation on my part. But the timing makes one wonder. And, if he did attempt to take his own life, why must such private details be made public?


Of course, this type of reporting is nothing new. Online media now report celebrities’ romantic interludes, bitter breakups, dalliances with the law, DUIs, drug busts, trips to rehab, and painful private moments in real time. We make instant character judgments and ignore stories to the contrary. We desperately want to believe these people are messed up -- some sort of equalizer for being rich, talented, beautiful and famous.


But at what point is enough enough? Does the fact that celebrities make millions of dollars in the spotlight entitle some sense of public right to know the types of personal details that we would be horrified to share with anyone, were the tables turned? I don’t think so.


Regarding Owen Wilson, I simply ask this of the tabloid media: back off before you really push him over the edge. You've already done enough.


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