It is interesting how the death of a celebrity becomes a referendum on our own culture. The death of Brittany Murphy, a reasonably obscure actress, has suddenly become a referendum on ourselves, with people jumping to the conclusion that she died because Hollywood and our culture that values thinness made her be anorexic. Of course we don't actually know how Brittany Murphy died or why. But in a way it really doesn't matter.

Celebrities represent cultural avatars that we can trot out and assign meaning to. Alive, Brittany Murphy was not terribly interesting. Dead however we can use her as a symbol of whatever it is we're fighting for or against. Whatever demons we have inside us, or whatever demons we see outside us, and often the two are exactly the same thing.

Death and aging are the worst scandals in Hollywood, because Hollywood sells the illusion of immortality, an eternal golden youth. And when the young die in Hollywood, we wake up from the illusion to realize that we are all too mortal after all.