The young and the restless

Ken Kutska, A&E Editor

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 Natalie Wood, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Brittany Murphy, Paul Walker. It’s amazing to note just how many celebrities have died before they reached 50. Maybe it’s the stress of the limelight or they think they’re untouchable because of the wealth and status they receive.

It’s becoming more apparent every day that celebrities especially the younger generation of celebrities, are not protecting themselves or living as great role models for kids and teenagers.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Paul Walker from the “Fast and the Furious” movie franchise and longtime friend Roger Rodas left Walker’s charity event in a red Porsche Carrera GT with a top speed of over 200 mph. Walker and Rodas were either going too fast or lost control of the car as they went around a curve and crashed into a light pole in a Santa Clarita business park.

The car caught fire and both men were killed, which has generated an enormous outpouring of support and comfort from the Hollywood and car enthusiast communities. Walker wasn’t one of those actors or celebrities who would pull crazy stunts or do outlandish things to get attention. He preferred to live privately.

Often after a celebrity like Walker dies, friends and family come together for support, like Vin Diesel, the “Fast and the Furious” co-star who worked with Walker on and off for over a decade.

Then the news comes out that the quiet celebrity who nobody really knew about in private has a long-time girlfriend and a daughter. These people are also casualties in a way, because they get drawn into the fray by the media when they’d rather be left alone.  You find out that these people have private lives and special people hidden under the radar.

On the other hand not all celebrities turn out quiet and respectable. Unfortunately, a lot of pop culture stars under the age of 50 turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to express themselves because they otherwise can’t or want to escape from reality because of bad experiences.

We’ve seen time and time again that substance abuse and starts don’t mix well. This is readily apparent with rock musicians and younger actors. Maybe it’s the thrill of trying new things out of curiosity or maybe it’s just part of the celebrity culture.

Amy Winehouse was one of those people who had an abusive past with drugs and alcohol, but could never relinquish the hold that they had over her. Eventually the amount of abuse she was putting herself through led to her untimely death.

It only takes one mistake in your life to screw it up forever whether it’s a pop icon like Winehouse dying of a self-induced overdose, or Walker, a victim of a mistake. It just goes to show that when you drive fast or gamble with your life a split second is all it takes.

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