Johnny America


I Re­mem­ber James Dean as Brought to You by Google and Oth­er Hap­haz­ard Forms of Re­search, Speculation


James Dean, you were the rebel with­out a cause. To­day I can buy your brand of rebel on a tie, a nov­el­ty bel­ly ring, a doll, a knife, a cal­en­dar, a stamp, a watch, or a dog tag. You starred in on­ly three movies — Rebel With­out a Cause, East of Eden, and Gi­ant — yet the Amer­i­can Film In­sti­tute ranks you 18 out of 100 male movie stars. Did you know that Burt Lan­cast­er, num­ber 19, has act­ed in 70 more movies than you? Like yours, none of them are in the top 100 movies of all time, not even From Here to Eter­ni­ty. But you still have it pret­ty sweet, be­ing dead. The Smiths may have im­mor­tal­ized Richard Dava­l­os on an al­bum cov­er, but Mor­ris­sey lat­er wrote a song for you. So did the Lon­don Suede, and even the Beach Boys. Rick Moody wrote a sto­ry about you join­ing a garage band. Your es­tate still makes more than 5 mil­lion dol­lars a year. But who gets the mon­ey? Cer­tain­ly not Elia Kazan, who di­rect­ed you in East of Eden. He thought you were a “sick kid” who was in­ca­pable of hav­ing a healthy re­la­tion­ship. Not Liz Sheri­dan, ei­ther. You sup­pos­ed­ly dat­ed her be­fore you were fa­mous, but we on­ly know her as Jer­ry Seinfeld’s TV moth­er. William Blast nev­er saw the cash, ei­ther. Maybe he made some mon­ey af­ter his tell-all book, though, in which he claimed you were long-time lovers. You may or may not have been gay, but it got you out of the draft. So I heard, any­way. Maybe that kid who took your place, maybe he should have got­ten the mon­ey. I bet he died in Ko­rea or some­thing. Jim­my Dean or Paula Deen don’t get your mon­ey, ei­ther. Jim­my made enough mon­ey from sausage. And Paula cer­tain­ly makes enough mon­ey cook­ing it. Did you have a fa­vorite sausage? Would you con­sid­er that a dou­ble en­ten­dre? But yeah, maybe I could have your mon­ey if no one else is us­ing it and be­cause I so bla­tant­ly asked first, I so called shot gun. Speak­ing of which, your co-pi­lot in the Porsche, Rolf Wütherich, was a lucky son of a bitch, huh? Ru­mor has it that’s what you said to him as you were stretchered in­to the am­bu­lance, min­utes from death: son of a bitch. Maybe I am mak­ing that up. You prob­a­bly would have said that if you sur­vived, though, sit­ting in the au­di­ence at your life­time achieve­ment award, next to some beard 40 years your ju­nior who ac­tu­al­ly was suck­ing on your mon­ey like Judy Gar­land on a Sec­onal bot­tle. They would have called your name for some bo­zo award, and you would have thought to your­self, son of a bitch, did I just pee my­self or son of a bitch, I left my wal­let in the limo, or son of a bitch, I wish I’d died in the Porsche. But you did. Pret­ty sweet, huh?

Filed under Commentary on September 17th, 2009

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