There was ample opportunity this week to turn on the television and wonder why we were watching. The screens were filled with non-news stories about Elizabeth Edwards, Jon & Kate, and Miss California, Carrie Prejean.
But, questioning what’s captivating about the opinions of a vacuous beauty queen is an entirely different scenario than parsing out the reasons we are interested in Farrah Fawcett’s documentary, “Farrah’s Story.”
The former might be little more than an example of being appalled, yet unable to look away. Only in the case of Miss California, the experience comes with a side of self-satisfaction, knowledge that our own shortcomings seem smaller and more bearable than the ones being played out on TV.
The latter is a stark reminder that we don’t live forever.
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“Farrah’s Story” is as much about becoming aware of our own mortality as it is seeing a cultural icon fight the disease. If one of the most vibrant celebrities of a generation can suffer, the same can apply to any of us.
Video: Stewart: Fawcett ‘never felt sorry for herself’ It helps, too, that in the case of “Farrah’s Story,” our watching is sanctioned, and the motives behind the documentary are not of the solipsistic sort we’re used to seeing on reality TV. Fawcett wanted to turn the cameras on herself as a means of exposing this insidious disease.
“Cancer is a disease that is mysterious, headstrong and makes its own rules,” Fawcett said in the documentary. “And mine, to this date, is incurable. I know that everyone will die eventually, but I do not want to die of this disease.”
It remains to be seen whether “Farrah’s Story” will become a study in a sort of cultural inattentional blindness. Does Fawcett's iconic status mean her message will cut a swath wide enough for her lessons about cancer, privacy, and fighting the good fight to come through? It’s my hunch that it will, which is the best possible outcome for a story that won’t have a happy ending.
Weekend box office: ‘Angels’ will fly
This same weekend three years ago, the largely panned “Da Vinci Code” opened in theaters to the tune of $77 million. Adjust that for inflation, and we’re talking numbers north of $82 million.
Although the next installment in the series, “Angels & Demons,” is garnering more favorable reviews, the odds that it will beat “The Da Vinci Code’s” take are slim.
It will, however be number one.
Video: ‘Angels & Demons’ outshines ‘Code’ “Star Trek” is its closest competition. Although that film was successful in getting a younger, more female audience into seats the first weekend, they’re unlikely to come back this weekend.
Also opening: Jennifer Aniston’s new film, “Management,” but with only 212 theaters showing the film (which co-stars Steve Zahn), there’s no way it will make much of a splash.
Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter: @ courtneyatmsnbc.
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