Anthony Bourdain is a piece of shit.
Sure, I was a huge fan. I had read A Cook’s Tour and faithfully watched all four of his television shows, every one of the 290 episodes spanning 16 years. At times I was frustrated with his ignorance of the world, but more often than not he was alleviating my ignorance of the world as well as his own. And despite occasionally being self-indulgent, cynical, and even a tad melodramatic, he was always entertaining.
Bourdain’s appeal was universal. Nearly everyone could find something to love about the man. In many ways, I liked to think of him as the posterchild for 21st-century America: an affable if not somewhat obnoxious rake who is well-aware of his short-comings, humbled by humanity, and looking to learn from it.
And then he fucking hung himself. What a pussy. Sure, he had demons. Everyone has demons. But he also had a lot going his way, and on his terms.
Look, it’s not that I am entirely opposed to suicide. If you are living in chronic pain with no hope in sight, or dying a slow and agonizing death, it certainly is an option to consider. But those are extreme circumstances. Most people who take their lives do so because they simply couldn’t cut it. Rather than pick themselves up and get back in the game, they took the easy way out.
Which is fine if you are a loser that no one cares about. Good riddance. One less burden on this fragile planet we share.
But if you have started a family, let alone thrust yourself into the public sphere, seeking the spotlight and becoming a beloved inspiration for people around the globe, that gives you some responsibility – like it or not. So when you pull a chicken-shit move like that, leaving millions of fans, a handful of friends, two ex-wives, a girlfriend, and an 11-year-old daughter to pick up the pieces, that makes you a genuine piece of shit.
An 11-year-old daughter. It’s bad enough that your dad left you and your mom to run off with another woman, but then he fucking kills himself? Piece of shit.
Sure, one could argue that he gave generously of himself, and made the world a better place. But hasn’t he negated all of that? Hasn’t he erased everything positive he has done since stepping out from behind that hot stove?
Think of the millions of people around the world who looked up to Anthony Bourdain, who even came to love the man – flaws and all. Here was a guy, an imperfect person that everyone could identify with, who seemed to have struggled through it all to find unimaginable success in life – both on camera and off. And I’m not necessarily talking material wealth. He had found love, and started a family. He found a way to do something he loved for a living, and had become one of the best in the world at it. Really, what more could anyone ask for out of life?
And yet he kills himself. What kind of message does that send to everyone – the millions he inspired who have their own demons, and none of his success? If Bourdain couldn’t manage to live another day, then what hope do any of them have?
To make it even worse, everyone has been celebrating the man’s life over the past week. We’ve given him everything but a hero’s parade and an international holiday. What message does that send the millions of people who are struggling with suicide? If you don’t think a massive 24/7 outpouring of love in the wake of someone’s suicide isn’t attractive and even inspirational to someone who is feeling desperate, alone, isolated, unappreciated, and unloved, then you don’t know shit about what it’s like to feel desperate, alone, isolated, unappreciated, and unloved. These people have little hope of reaching Bourdain’s heights in life, but many will surely believe they can do so in death.
Is that Bourdain’s responsibility? Well, he put himself out there. He may have played the too-cool-for-school guy who never sought out fame and celebrity, but he stepped out of the kitchen in search of it. He spent nearly two decades trying to build that audience, that following. Sure, you can argue it was more to inspire than get rich, which is surely a bit naive. But, ultimately, what has he inspired? Throwing in the towel? Taking the easy way out? Quitting?
Forget all of that. Forget his fame and fortune. Forget the millions of people he touched and inspired. Forget his body of work. Just remember one thing: his 11-year-old daughter. He brought her into this world, and then the coward callously abandoned her in the most selfish way.
In the end, Anthony Bourdain proved to be a real piece of shit.
Am I a piece of shit for thinking this, let alone writing it? For besmirching the suddenly sacred reputation of one of the last individuals who was able to appeal to Americans across all of our growing divides, and even the world at large?
Maybe. I am just running with my emotions here. A gut reaction. It’s how writers deal with stuff.
And I may regret posting this tomorrow, a week from now, or 10 years down the road. But a blog post is a lot less permanent than the belt of a bath robe. You piece of shit.