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Tony Grist

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Just A Meanness [Apr. 15th, 2005|10:50 am]
Tony Grist

Peter Sellers was horrid to people for no better reason than he could get away with it.  Roger Lewis concludes that he was "evil".

My, but that's a good book. The Life And Death of Peter Sellers. Not just a great biography but a great book- period. A masterpiece.

That word "evil" gives me problems. I don't know what it means.

But I guess it's a word we fall back on when we can't explain what's going on.

Sellers can be explained up to a point. He was spoiled as a child. His mother was a monster of possessiveness who let him get away with pushing people into fire-places, things like that. But after a while the excuses run out. He was violent, revengeful, destructive, treacherous, greedy, wilful, cruel. Entirely self-centred.

He cut his children out of his will.

And though he didn't actually kill anyone, he came close a few times.

One way of explaining him is to call him mad.

But he wasn't so mad he couldn't turn in great performances.

No, the thing remains a mystery. Being kind isn't that difficult, but some people (lots of people) choose different.

Is it more fun to be horrid? Not really. Sellers made himself very lonely and very ill. Instant Karma got him back good style.

In the end you can only shrug- like the spree killer in Springsteen's "Nebraska"-

They wanted to know why I did what I did
Well sir I guess there's just a meanness in this world .


[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2005-04-15 03:33 am (UTC)
On the basis of your comments about the book, I just ordered a copy through our library, so hopefully it will get here in the next week. Sounds like an excellent read.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-15 06:30 am (UTC)
Lewis writes brilliantly.

He's also done a book about Laurence Olivier. I reckon I'm going to have to get hold of it.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-04-15 05:48 am (UTC)
And all this time, I thought Peter Sellers was a gentle soul, rather like the gardener he portrayed in--oh, what was that movie?--the one with Shirley McClaine.

Like our Michael Jackson, who lives in Neverland, Sellers must have decided he was a "special" person, not subject to the same rules that regular people follow.

I think one does become insane, more or less, when one leaves the group behind and becomes "special."

Michael Jackson: a 45-year-old man who climbs trees and lives in Neverland with boys

The Pope: adulated by a billion people, his sanity would be protected only if he completely embraced the archetype, which he did.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-15 06:37 am (UTC)
Being There. I love that film. I guess it's the prime reason why Sellers interests me so much.

He could be charming and funny. Especially when he was pitching woo. But once he'd secured a wife or girlfriend he lost interest/became controlling/played psychological games/turned violent.

Everybody was expendable- friends, wives, kids, colleagues, employees. Some people have happy memories of him, but very few.

Jackson? I've just been watching the dramatic reconstruction of this week's trial highlights, with the boy's mother telling how she was imprisoned, watched and followed everywhere by Jackson's heavies.

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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2005-04-15 07:18 am (UTC)
Some people never learn love. I think that's it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-15 08:13 am (UTC)
Sellers spoke about love a lot. He was also religious in a fly-by-night kind of a way. He could talk the talk, but he couldn't walk the walk.
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2005-04-15 07:19 am (UTC)
Evil's a slippery term, much like love. And yet we seem able enough to recognize the incarnation of either when they present themselves to us.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-15 08:13 am (UTC)
Yes, I reckon we have to trust our instincts.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-04-15 11:35 am (UTC)
I too have to read the book. I feel sorry for Peter Sellers. Madness, well, I can identify with that.

But spending your adult life inhabiting other characters can't have been easy. There are many searching for their identity in this world. They try on 'this one' and maybe discard it after a period of time for 'that one'.

Believe me, I'm not explaining because I haven't read the book. But it's something I think about.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-04-15 12:30 pm (UTC)
It's strange. Sellers was hateful, but I don't walk away from the book hating him. I see too much of myself in him for that. He was a kind of negative Everyman.
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