It's pretty difficult to introduce him to people who have never heard of him, but maybe even more to those who have.
It's just painful. Now he's "the actor who died". Among the things I learned from River,
there's this idea that whatever you do in your life can be erased in the eye of people by a
single mistake. That it's easier to sum up your death than who you were. What's worse is to
realize that I tend to choose this easy path too, as I remember my reaction when I heard the
news years ago.
I've never liked news, or more exactly, I've never liked the way journalists talk about events
and people. How they overuse stereotypes, distort reality, even when they're real journalists and
not only vultures making money on the back of people. It's impossible to give credit to them.
I've been confirmed that more than once but analyzing it in details about River's case has been very
beneficial to me. The way they present things makes you unable to consider it as real somehow.
I can't even tell you why I first tried to know more of River. I don't think it's anything you might expect.
But surprise was a big part of it. Fascination because I felt that the few I could see hid a lot more.
At first I had the purpose to make him get the attention - the sort of attention - that he deserved.
Something like... explanations maybe. As far as mine might be more reliable than any other, since
I've never met him. Because everything that was told looked so over-simple and often false.
But before I get this web account to express myself, I changed my mind. First because I'm too aware that
I don't have more right to speak about his life than all the medias I'm criticizing. Second because
people who are now friends of mine have done one of the things I wished to do, better that I might do it
and before I could do it (gathering info on River's work, life and influence in a website : the
River Phoenix Pages).
However I did try here to show him here through some of his different faces, through
his work and his own words,
because one thing that keeps fascinating me is how multi-faceted he was, and how aware
of that he was, too.
But most of all, I changed my mind because I've thought of it twice.
There's been a point in my "quest" about River when I stopped to see him as
an actor, an idol - I've never really considered him so in fact, because I'm not
looking for models, only for souls and ways to learn -, or an image like the
fiction characters I create. A moment when I came to the realization that
he'd been a real person, with his own wishes. His life has to remain
his own as far as it can still be so.
Sometimes it seems that some fans regret the performances he's not had
the time to offer us. Isn't that a bit selfish? Shouldn't we regret for him the dreams he
made that he's not had the occasion to fulfill? Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to
blame fans. After all, I'm here writing this and I know how it feels... And I would
really like to hear more of his songs...
(Give him a guitar and maybe he won't scowl at the camera...)
But love doesn't give any right. It only gives duties.
First of all is respect. But I'm too pessimistic to expect respect for River from everyone. Not when
the only thing people make the effort to remember is how he died. It would be too long to even mention
how unfair and reducing the medias can be. So if there are persons who I wish may understand what I try
to explain here, it's the ones who still remember River and love him.
Why have I made this page? Not only because I felt the need to talk about him and notify what
I owe him. More because I wished
to do something for his memory. That's my tribute, as pretentious as it may appear. Trying to convince
people that he was a person, and that everyone, including people who have a public life, deserves respect
That's why I don't say anything about his life on this page, or more about what I've understood from him.
Because if you're fans, you already know a lot about it -including a lot of half-lies and plain lies.
I hope you take it all with a grain of salt, because it took me about three years to build a somehow
coherent portrait of him... And I'm still unsure of whether I'm right or not. And it's not to what
has been written about River that I gave the more importance to make this.
"A reason to believe and forgive". That's one of the true things that have been told about him.
It took me more than a year to agree with that saying and read it without cynicism.
It's the time that I've needed to turn what happened into a positive change, a
change that's his last gift, and my tribute.
Enough said, it's time to let his work speak for him :