There's a way to report that someone struggled with addiction problems that suggests sympathy and maybe influences others with similar problems to seek help, and there's another way to do it that suggests superiority and shames the dead. There's even a neutral way to do it! Now guess which way the Post
went? I get reporting on James Gandolfini's last day, but the paper's itemizing
of what he had to eat and drink before he died reads like the tabloid thinks the movie star got what was coming to him. "Gandolfini first ordered a pina colada with two additional shots of rum on the side. He followed that up with an identical round—a pina colada and two shots—and then downed two beers." (Was he at an L Magazine
editorial meeting? Just kidding, we don't drink pina coladas.) "Gandolfini also enjoyed back-to-back orders of fried prawns slathered with mayonnaise chili sauce—as well as a heaping portion of foie gras. He ate the entire meal himself." AND THEN HE DIED.
I mean, "slathered" and "heaping" are not neutral words: they're made to make you scoff at a fat man out of control. "Everything [Gandolfini] ordered was fried,” a source told the paper. SO OF COURSE HE DIED. "He has been known to blow lines and drink like an Irish sailor on weekend leave,” said another source. SO OF COURSE HE DIED. Gandolfini even went to Alcoholics Anonymous—which, you're not supposed to report that! It's anonymous!—but "didn't take it seriously," somebody (who should have kept his or her mouth shut) told the paper. SO OF COURSE HE DIED.
The paper also put on the front page an unflattering photograph taken the night before. Because if you're kicking a guy while he's down, you may as well spit in his face, too. Oh, also? An autopsy confirmed Gandolfini died of a heart attack with no signs of drug or alcohol abuse.
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