A few days ago, Gary Coleman died.
Before Gary even died, the jokes were flying — mocking him, his lifelong health problems, and spreading word of his death before the end even came.
People were being dicks.
Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?
I get that people think “Oh, celebrity! Let’s mock them!” I understand there’s this mentality that if people step into the limelight, they get what they deserve.
Oh? Well, Gary Coleman’s probably the most shining example of everything that went wrong with child stars in the ’70s before laws were made to protect them — and the cast of Diff’rent Strokes is legendary for how awry its child actors went — suggesting to ME that pretty bad things were happening on that set, and the children were treated as poorly as they could have been.
Coleman was cute and short and “forever young” because of health problems, and his fucking asshole parents exploited him. He was so sick and working so much that he never graduated.
Without an education and with only a stint as a child star, what’s a guy gonna do with his life? Yeah, try to live off the steam.
I know how fucked up elements of my childhood were, and I only had to overcome health problems — kidney problems, like Coleman, who I always felt sorry for as a kid because I didn’t have to overcome my health on a drug-riddled set with asshole adults and teens who were circling the ethical drain.
My mother always told me what a tragedy it all was, even when the series was at its height. Sick kids shouldn’t be working, Steff, she said.
Coleman’s entire life was fucked over by his health — he probably never had a great love, he never had much past Diff’rent Strokes.
But he sure got mocked.
We’re a pretty cruel society.
We’re ignorant. We’re jerks.
Gary Coleman never got to choose to be Arnold. He never got to choose his life. He never got to rest and take care of himself like a sick child should get to do. He got to work his childhood away to pad his parents’ coffers, then spent the rest of his life as some joke of a character’s shadow.
I’m glad everyone had their laughs.
Maybe y’all can shut the fuck up and show the dead man a little of the respect he should’ve had in his lifetime.
No one deserves to live life as a joke.* Nor die as one.
A beautiful tribute written for Gary is here.
A look at how badly awry all the kids from that horrid series Diff’rent Strokes fared is here.
I realize Coleman played into the joke. I’m of the opinion he had no choice. What’s he gonna do, work at a gas station? “Hey! You’re that KID.” He might as well have exploited it — it was the only foundation of life that his parents built for him.