The truth is out there…
Once more the world is in mourning for a young, shining star: back in July, Glee fans were stunned to hear about the untimely death of Cory Monteith (those who are not Glee fans may know him from his other fabulous role as a Walmart people-greeter in British Columbia – I’m not making that shit up people. If it’s on Wikipedia, it’s obviously true!). In interviews, Monteith had been very open about his history with substance abuse from an early age, a brave admission for a young actor building his career in one of the most squeaky-clean tween dream television shows on the planet. But his bravery may have made him the perfect target…for the Corndog Conspiracy.
It’s always tragic when someone so young dies…especially when they are younger than I am. As far as gay culture is concerned, anyone over 30 is pretty much the crypt-keeper, so when a celebrity passes away whose birthdate is firmly planted in the 80s it makes my eyeballs twitch just a bit and I run for my Aspercreme and Geritol. And despite all of the discussion of Monteith’s history of substance abuse problems, his stints in rehab, his troubled past, there are some who know the truth and are brave enough to speak out. I mean, c’mon. We know what happened here: he choked on a corndog.
Do not be fooled by the honey-kissed deliciousness of their breading or the full meaty flavor of the wiener cleverly hidden inside (if I had a nickel for every time I’ve used THAT phrase…I’d have 15 cents) – this fairground staple is a deadly killer who has deprived us of some of the most luminary talents in entertainment history.
Amy Winehouse? Corndog.
Heath Ledger? Corndog.
River Phoenix? Corndog.
Jimi Hendrix? Janis Joplin? Corndog. Corndog.
What people don’t realize is that behind the wholesome family values image of the corndog (because, what ELSE would you be thinking about when you see Michelle Bachmann shoving a footlong corndog into her self-righteous piehole except for family values??) is that the Corndog Industrial Complex is actually a far-reaching shadowy organization that sells a deadly product to consumers and then orchestrates massive cover-ups of the deaths of high-profile corndog eaters.
There have been rumors that Courtney Love was seen sneaking away from the scene of her husband’s apparent suicide with a small wooden stick in her hand.
Anonymous sources have suggested that one of Whitney Houston’s award show traditions was to take a long, luxurious bath while enjoying a pair of delicious corndogs.
Others have claimed that if you look very carefully at evidence photos taken from Marilyn Monroe’s home, you can see grease stains and breading crumbs on the sheets.
And like other shadowy organizations vying for control of the world’s fortunes, who knows how far back this conspiracy goes? In Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet, two young lovers are found dead after a huge celebration – do we know for sure what was on the menu at that feast? We have no evidence to show that there weren’t corndogs being served, and some “alien astronaut” scholars believe that the name Capulet is actually derived from an ancient alien language and roughly translates to “Man who serves meat sausage covered in corn breading.” Could one of history’s great stage tragedies actually be a thinly disguised historical document proving the early machinations of this unstoppable force for evil?
Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is.
The way that we think about and talk about drug use and abuse in this country is ridiculous. The way we stigmatize people who suffer from drug addiction is ridiculous. We shed a tear and give a fucking Emmy to the show Intervention for sitting in a dirty gas station bathroom watching this week’s “feature story” cook up some heroin in the sink, but if a person who gets out of prison after a drug conviction tries to get a job at our workplace or *gasp* move into our neighborhood, then the walls go up and defenses come out. We want to view “those people” from a distance, feeling sorry for them and passing judgment at the same time.
And so when a beloved star is struggling, we want to sanitize the situation, tiptoe around the problem and find other ways to explain what’s happening to them. After all they are a role model, right? And you can only be a role model if you’re perfect, right?
Why can’t we choose role models who struggle? Who are human and sometime fall? Isn’t it ok to think that someone could be a role model because of how hard and how courageously they battled, even if in the end the battle was lost?
Having these kinds of role models asks all of use to be more human, and to respect the difficulties and fallibility of being human. It also asks us to be more compassionate. How many people claim to have compassion for people struggling with addiction, and then go into work and filter out a job candidate because they are required to disclose any drug-related convictions on their application? That line on an application form doesn’t say anything about who that person is, what their experience is, what they are doing to try to rebuild their life, and it certainly doesn’t provide any useful information to determine whether or not that person is an acceptable fit for the job they are applying for. All it does is continue a vicious cycle that denies opportunities to those who struggle, or more accurately to those who get caught while they are struggling.
That kind of stigma can discourage people from seeking help; the same stigma is at work with mental health issues (and of course, drug abuse and mental health issues are often intertwined). Rather than encouraging people to get help for the issues that they have, we keep them at a distance and isolate them and penalize those who are “marked” by their struggles. That’s where the idea of the Corndog Conspiracy came from: that it’s much easier to create a fiction to explain away these issues than it is to recognize that we are all implicit in a system that punishes people who are vulnerable. Some people get self-righteous and say, “Well, it was their choice to start using drugs.” Even if we ignore the many factors like socioeconomic status, racism and other forms of systematic oppression, and mental health issues that really muddy up this idea of free choice, this whole notion of choice trivializes the reality of addiction. Getting involved with drugs may at first be a choice, but addiction is much more complicated. And this self-righteous attitude, void of compassion, does nothing to help people find their way our of addiction.
I think the first step to changing this is to start talking openly about these issues – without judgment, without isolating those experiencing these issues. We also have to look at the way we penalize people who have been convicted of drug use or who have sought help for mental health issues. If our country continues to prioritize punishment over rehabilitation, all we are going to do is ensure that these issues remain shrouded in shame and secrecy, that people who are trying to rebuild their lives will face additional roadblocks and unfair disadvantages, and that more celebrities will fall victim to the schemes of the Corndog Conspiracy.
Look at that – y’all thought I was just writing a darkly funny (and marginally inappropriate) piece about dead celebrities, and I went and turned it around on you into something rather political and maybe even a little controversial. What can I say? I’m full of surprises. Besides, while I love to laugh as much as the next person, I think that humor can serve a purpose: it can open the door to more serious discussions about who we are and how we exist in the world. It relaxes people, puts them at ease so that when you hit them with the message, they don’t see it coming and have less time to put their defenses up. Tricky, ain’t I? And if I just told the joke and left it at that, that feels a little mean-spirited to me, and that is not my intention. We get caught up in the celebrity aspect, but all of these people have families and friends who are grieving them. They were “real people” too, whatever the hell that means. My humor always comes from a place of love, even if that love is dressed up with shock and profanity. No one said you had to like it or think it was funny. Just know that it always comes from a place of love, even (especially?) this:
Love and Kisses, Miss Jaye
Tags: 12 step programs, addiction, alien astronauts, Amy Winehouse, Ancient Aliens, Ancient Astronauts, asphyxiation, celebrity scandal, choking, conspiracy theory, corndog, Corndog Conspiracy, corndog deaths, Corndog Industrial Complex, Corndogs, Cory Monteith, Courtney Love, drug addiction, drug overdose, drug scandal, family values, Glee, guilt, Heath Ledger, honesty, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Mama Cass, Marilyn Monroe, mental health, mental illness, Michelle Bachmann, Michelle Bachmann Corndog, recovery, recovery program, rehab, River Phoenix, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare, shame, truth, Whitney Houston