Dead ladies, eh? We all love them. Marilyn Monroe, Karen Carpenter, Amy Winehouse. All so TRAGIC. So ICONIC. In their deaths. Not like Heath Ledger, Jimi Hendrix, James Dean. They’re dead too, died young too, but their deaths are not their glamour. Not like the dead women where death is what they are, where death ends and enhances their stories.
Dead ladies are everywhere. Are the backbone of entertainment. The Killing and The Fall both revolved around dead women. Every thriller is about dead women, movie after movie drives its plot through a man actualizing himself by avenging a dead wife.
Dead ladies are perfect in the media, because they are almost as useful as live ones. Because in the media women are just their bodies. Dead bodies are still bodies after all. And that’s what women are best at. Hollowed out of all those troublesome emotions. Does it make a difference whether a fashion model is alive or dead? What does it add that she is living?
It’s no surprise that dead ladies are a thing. The Vice article today, the America’s Next Top Model shoot from years ago.
When we look at female writers, here’s another reason to focus on dead ones: Female writers, with their brains burned out from all that thinking. It’s like a cautionary tale we all knew the end of. The price of your success, of your dazzling dangerous reach, is mental illness and death. No wonder everyone loves this story. Everyone loves a story where the moral is: women, sit down, shut up.
Oh, ladies. When will you learn? That’s why no male writers are associated with suicide. Not Hunter S Thompson or David Foster Wallace or Camus who didn’t do it but talked about it more than anyone.
More men take their own lives than women, yet somehow self-inflicted death remains feminine. Hamlet fights Thanatos while Ophelia has no qualms about letting go.
Women are passive. Femininity is passive. Death becomes her.