David Carradine: Society's Obsession With Celebrity Death

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David Carradine's naked body was found hanging in a Bangkok, Thailand hotel room last Thursday morning, setting in motion a debate about whether the star of the feature film "Kill Bill" and the long-running television series "Kung Fu" (1972-1975) committed suicide, accidently died while attempting to stimulate himself through autoerotic asphyxia or was murdered.

While that debate rages on, a Thai newspaper called Thai Rath has published forensic photos of Carradine's naked corpse. His ex-wife Marina Anderson has also seen fit to tell the New York Post of Carradine's "deviant sexual behavior."

Here we are at the flipside of losing our inner selves to YouTube and Facebook and Twitter. Too many of us suddenly all think we're celebrities, but we also think that real celebrities are inhuman, celluloid creatures without the right to the privacy or decency befitting other human beings. Some in society actually seem to think that the fact that actors make a living by ... well ... acting means that they have sold their souls to us and that we can devour them like movie popcorn. That's why the paparazzi thinks they have license to stalk stars as though they are alien creatures or zoo animals on the loose. And it's why we feel free to peek through windows into David Carradine's most private acts and final moments.

David Carradine was a person, before he was ever an actor. What he signed up for was to share his gift and his craft with those who might enjoy it. I'm one of those people. Kung Fu was part of my childhood. Something about Carradine's quiet intensity, combined with the idea that he could not leave his training at the monastery until he could focus enough to snatch a pebble from his teacher's open hand, got my attention and stayed with me all this time.

But the fact that I was a young fan of Carradine doesn't make me think I have the inherent right to look at naked photos of his dead body or get the inside scoop from his disgruntled ex-wife about what he liked to do in bed. It would make me feel like a trespasser in his private life. It would make me worry about doing harm to those who loved Carradine, in real life.

That's the trouble, though. We don't think of actors as real, anymore. We don't think of politicians as genuine, anymore. We don't think of sports stars as dedicated athletes, anymore. We don't think of the economy as a miraculous engine that runs only on the truth, anymore. Because, in the end, too many of us don't think enough of our real selves, anymore.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for FOX News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement. Check out Dr. Ablow's Web site at livingthetruth.com.