Thursday, July 18, 2013

RIP Cory Monteith

If you're not a Glee fan - or to be more exact, a Gleek - you probably won't understand the grief so many all over the world are experiencing, after the untimely death of one of the show's stars, Cory Monteith.

News of his demise shocked everyone, even though in the past, he'd publicly acknowledged his ongoing battle with drug addiction, and had completed rehab a few times.

I, too, was stunned. And devastated. I've been a loyal Gleek since the show first debuted 4 years ago, and Finn Hudson ( the character Cory played so wonderfully ) was one of my favourites. The series became a huge hit and launched many of its stars' careers. And the song-and-dance numbers were the best ingredient - covers which almost always surpassed the originals, performed by immensely talented young actors.

Through the years, I revelled in Cory's progress. In season 1, he was clearly awkward with the complex dance choreography, and candidly admitted as much in interviews. I found his honesty refreshing, and also appropriate, considering Finn's own struggles within the glee club.

However, as time passed, Cory's confidence grew tremendously. By season 2, he was keeping up with his fellow cast members, and his vocal strength soared. Around the same time, his relationship with co-star, Lea Michele, blossomed, and they eventually became a couple, to fans' delight.

My love for Glee extends far beyond the music and dance moves. It's the first teen-based programme to fully explore subjects which are considered taboo, at least in terms of target demographics ( i.e. tweens and high schoolers ). Bullying, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, eating disorders, morbid obesity, gun violence - nothing is off limits.
The writers shoulder a lot of responsibility in the stories they choose to tell, but the cast is more than up to the task, and Cory was always great to watch in every scene.

Another reason Cory's passing affects me so much - the fact that I met fellow cast-mate, Jonathan Groff, in person. Groff played rival school glee club leader, Jesse St. James, in seasons 1 and 2. In real life, he's also Lea's best friend, following their star-making turns on Broadway's Spring Awakening, which is one of my all-time favourite musicals.

Jonathan shared quite a few tense scenes with Cory because Jesse and Finn were involved in a love triangle, in addition to the on-stage battles. Meeting the former in 2011 in New York was one of the best celeb encounters I've ever had, and yes, I told Jon how much I love Glee, and that there're lots of fans in Singapore, which pleased him very much! :)

The last time a young Hollywood actor's death saddened me to this extent was in 1993, when River Phoenix collapsed from a drug overdose. Also extremely talented with a bright future ahead of him, he left us all too suddenly, and I haven't forgotten him even after 20 years.

My mother sometimes comments that drug addicts' deaths shouldn't surprise anyone, that they were somehow "asking for it". But I've seen addiction in its various forms up close - relatives and friends, not myself thankfully - and while the addict isn't entirely blameless, s/he isn't necessarily bad or evil either. We're all human; we have weaknesses, and not everyone will be able to overcome their personal demons, even with adequate support.

The greatest tragedy, I think, is that Cory passed away alone in his hotel room, unable to say a proper farewell to those who loved him most. Perhaps he's also unaware of how much he meant to his fans all over the world. But I hope that, wherever he is right now, he'll find the peace which eluded him on this earth, and that he's still singing and dancing.

We'll miss you always, Cory.

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