If you, like me, grew up in the 80s and woke up yesterday morning to the sad news that Harold Ramis had passed away, then you probably felt like a huge chunk of your childhood just broke off and floated away.
It feels as though this has been happening quite a lot lately, seeing many legends and pop culture icons from my childhood get old and die like John Hughes, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Roger Ebert, and now Harold Ramis, the wonderfully talented writer, actor and creator of so much comedy awesomeness who passed away yesterday at the young age of 69.
His movies and the projects he was involved in, from “Groundhog Day,” “Ghostbusters,” “Animal House”, “Caddyshack”, “Stripes”, “National Lampoons Vacation” and “Meatballs” – just to name a few – are a staple of the great 80s classics and their comedic genius timeless and unprecedented.
Unlike the landscape that prevails in Hollywood today, Ramis was part of the small breed of film makers who was in it for the craft of acting and story-telling instead of for fame and wealth and shameless self-aggrandizement.
A lot of people these days just want to be “in the entertainment industry” for the easy money, the easy women, or the easy fame to the point of hiring PR firms to follow them around when they do “private stuff” so they can be “candidly” photographed for a page in some tabloid, increasing their exposure.
I personally know this actor from one of the Star Trek shows who is, literally, begging people on his Facebook page to follow him on Facebook and Twitter because hiring someone who has a lot of followers on social networks can help the production he will be working on generate more money. His talents appear secondary; this kid has to work on amassing a sizable following first before he is called in for casting.
Aspiring and current entertainers look at the likes of the Kuntrashians who invite the cameras, literally, up their vaginas, and trash like Snooki – parasitic entities that merely exist to increase ratings and profitability while racking up millions of dollars for being walking advertisements for cheap products and famous for being famous, as opposed to famous because they are creating something of value, and these newbies want a piece of that famewhoring pie.
But it is not just these bitches, look at Oscar nominated pukes like Jonah Hill whose douchebaggy assholishenss has increased in proportion to his fame and Oscar nominations to the point where he thinks he is even too good to shake hands with common folks.
Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, John Candy etc. and the film makers they worked with were a different breed. They weren’t fame-whoring and could tell jokes and make you laugh and sympathize with the underdog and question authority without being Judd Apatow vulgar. That is rare and I am sad to see Ramis, who was such an integral part of that, go.
I am sad not only because he was way too young and died too soon and appears to have been a genuinely nice guy, but because in a way his departure signifies a change within those of us who grew up with his movies and pop culture presence and for whom deaths like his signify the painful realization of the days of youth gone by.
Harold Ramis once said about his work:
“Well, for me, it’s the relationship between comedy and life – that’s the edge I live on, and maybe it’s my protection against looking at the tragedy of it all. It’s seeing life in balance. Comedy and tragedy co-exist. You can’t have one without the other. I’m of the school that anything can be funny, if seen from a comedic point of view.”
Indeed. What tragic and short lives we all live.