“With a Needle in His Arm”

This week’s media drumbeat: “Found dead with a needle in his arm.”

It’s bad enough he died alone with the only disease on earth that convinces its host it’s not there.

ACEHalfway through the first full day of Philip Seymour Hoffman media coverage I knew that “with a needle in his arm” had entered our cultural zeitgeist. Ever since, it’s been a week of the phrase, over and over again.

Yes, we know why – it’s a lurid, gritty and vulgar journalistic standard, but this has hit such a level of capitalization, it’s almost as though it’s been sexualized, as if media outlets can’t cover Hoffman’s death without worming it in, right upfront.

As the week has progressed, in fact, I’ve been hearing ever more creative insertions and timing of the phrase in broadcast media. News readers both local and national threw it out there immediately at first, but now it’s hangin’ back by a sentence or two. By next week it’ll be a paragraph, but only because the story has turned toward the Somali Pirate Chechnya Warlord Taliban drug dealers who might’a sold a beloved fat white guy a truckload of smack.

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