April 15th, 2005

Just A Meanness

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 .