De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est—speak no ill of the dead is the ancient wisdom. That’s my social-media policy. Mostly. Oh all right, I indulged in some long-simmering antagonism toward Kirk Kerkorian when he passed, but otherwise, to the best of my recollection, I have either praised the deceased, or held my peace. I don’t want to be the person who invades a thread with “I was never a fan.”
Still, I could always picture exceptions to all that well-behaved discretion, and oh boy, when Kenneth Anger bought the farm, I was gonna get some things off my chest. After all, he danced on many a grave in his 96 years on this plane of existence. Yet, somehow, when the news broke yesterday, I just didn’t feel like it. My Twitter timeline was flooded with tributes and broken-heart emojis. I contented myself with tweeting beautiful pictures of some of the people who were so badly treated in Anger’s Hollywood Babylon (co-written with an uncredited Elliott Stein, who is said to have cheerfully admitted their research method was to get high and make shit up).
Then a friend (who I won’t name) posted her memory of approaching Anger at a party some twenty years ago to shyly tell him how much she loved one of his movies. He whipped around, mouth full of food, and shrieked, “Yeah, well FUCK YOU!” She burst into tears and ran away.
I mulled the matter overnight, and came to the conclusion that my earlier impulses should rule the day.