Page 163 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
P. 163

Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 143
                And there was insurance. He was solid. He was dead. His cycle was
             complete. There was no danger that once the investment of identification
             had been made he would desert his promises and fly to the adult society
             that youth imagines so callously wanting.
                Identification enables one to regain an object that has been lost; in
             identifying with a loved person who has died or from whom one has
             been separated, the lost person’s expressiveness becomes reincarnated as
             an incorporated feature of one’s personality.
                James Dean was dead; he had this appeal of lost tragedy and it found
             complementary expression in the varying degrees of sympathetic imi-
             tation characteristic of his prep-school followers. They subconsciously
             resolved he had not died in vain. A little of his struggle, a little of him,
             was living in them.
                Everyone knew, even in the furor of 1956, that he had been hardly
             better than he should have been, that his inappropriate aggressiveness
             had repelled all but two close friends; but few paid ardent attention to his
             personal life. What had had important influence, what had been seen by
             millions, was the film image he had projected.
                Sympathy was given him in East of Eden; identification with him was
             made in the searching nobility of Rebel Without a Cause; and the laurels
             of emotive versatility were paid him for Giant. Whatever James Dean was
             as a person, as an actor he was an artist eliciting an artist’s due.
                In the face of young legends, the phenomenon of James Dean has
             paled slowly and it has paled inevitably. The youngsters of seven years
             ago have outgrown the need for the expressive example of the boy who
             could not outgrow the tangles of his maternally dominated life; and now
             these young adults, content like the slowly-aging and little-increasing sets
             of Garland and Sinatra fans, are not rejecting and forgetting the James
             Dean of their nonage.
                He is recalled with a wistful smile and a dash of pity; for his whole
             anguished life is a commemorative symbol of unresolved maturity’s most
             temporarily endless period.
                Another generation will have another lord; but those who remember
             like to think this was a little different, that he sparked a minute of truth,
             that for one brief shining moment when he was needed, James Dean was
             someone good and someone very special.
                The secret of the spontaneity was that despite everything, despite
             all his personal shortcomings, his lost nobility flickered in empathy with
             every gangling kid whoever stood alone and aching on the threshold of
             the world. He seemed to understand the misunderstood.
                In 1957, a partially fictionalized biography ended quintessentially:
             “Do not judge me as James Byron Dean. I am the man you dreamed me

           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
   158   159   160   161   162   163   164   165   166   167   168