Beloved film critic Roger Ebert died three months ago, after several years of dealing with cancer and its consequences. I never knew him, yet miss him. I enjoyed reading his thoughts, whether they were via his movie reviews, blog posts, or tweets. He was, as we all are, unique. I miss the man. I miss his opinions. There is still an emptiness where he once existed, a void. None of this is particularly irregular after someone dies. And yet...
Ebert's legacy is proving to be an unusual and, dare I say it, awkward one. His Twitter account has been left active. His wife, Chaz, and others (honestly, I'm not really sure who all has access to it) continue to tweet under the banner that had once belonged to an individual. It was a personal account, a window into the heart and mind of a wonderful man. Judging from some of the responses to recent tweets, I'm not the only one made uncomfortable by the account's continuation.
The annual film festival that Roger began in 1999 in my hometown of Champaign-Urbana (his hometown, also) is slated to continue. The dates for the 2014 festival have already been set. Films will apparently be selected from (quite a large) list of movies that Ebert left behind, movies that he approved of. It has also been intimated that those close to him, who knew his tastes quite well, might select a few new films. Alas, dear reader, I am also uncomfortable with this.
Probably what I am ok with is that RogerEbert.com, the critic's web site replete with archives of his film reviews, is soldiering on, now with blog posts by Chaz, a new site editor and reviews of new movies by folks that Ebert admired. For whatever reason, this just feels right. I try and go there once a week to read the reviews, although it still feels a tad empty without the namesake's own blog still active.
Only Ebert's Facebook page appears to have halted its updates upon his passing.
Look, as stated earlier, I didn't know Roger Ebert personally. Everything I've just mentioned may very well have been what he wished to occur. His friends and loved ones knew better than anyone. Having said that, I still have an opinion, and it is that Ebert should be allowed to pass along normally. His tweets, his film festival -- those were him. There's a reason his Twitter account had thousands of followers and his film festival was a thriving success (many aren't). They were about the man.
Although everyone dies, folks like Ebert (celebrities, if you will) attain an immortality through their public work. Shakespeare has his plays, Mozart has his compositions, Ebert has his reviews (written and televised). But there was a personal aspect to his tweets and to his film festival. They just won't be the same without him, and I think it's ok to acknowledge that they, like the man whom they represent, are finite.
People die. Things end. Nothing is forever. Not even Roger Ebert, unfortunately.