The actor Chadwick Boseman passed away earlier this week at the age of 43 years.
Now, I’m typically sceptical about the cringe-inducing missives concerning the dearly departed from those who never knew, nor even considered the dearly departed when he or she was alive. And to an extent, this was the same. Shoddy, self-serving Twitter posts, all designed to supplement irretrievably weak social media feeds and to shovel up followers.
For a start, we saw all those virtue-signalling, pseudo-formal press statements of Z list twerps who were ‘inspired’ by his work. And then you had the #King hashtag, which was another blatant prompt for even citizens of the most reasonable firmness to reach for the eye-gouging implements. All dross from froth-and-bubble limelight charlatans who had never before mentioned him in their thousands of inane posts. Innumerable white liberal, interim Black Lives Matter social moles popping up momentarily for any fleeting slither of kudos they might suck up on the racial equality ticket.
What an embarrassment, but worse still, what an insult. But that’s how the 21st Century rolls.
But it was not all doom and gloom. Taking the shameless showboating and bandwagon-jumping of the Twatterati out of the equation, there were many clips of the actor heartwarmingly connecting with fans and many anecdotes of the support he gave to other young actors on the way up.
But one story stood out far more than those of his thespian brilliance and of his generosity of spirit.
He had known of his terminal diagnosis since 2016, yet he had kept it under wraps and had lived his professional life to the full, making films that had purpose for others. And during that whole period, none of the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who treaded him; none of the actors, production staff, crews who worked with him on films; no rogue clerk or call centre worker in any instance company or any other organisation who might naturally have had access to his personal data.
Nobody who knew had ever breathed a single world.
Smack bang in the middle of the most concentrated, vicious, aggressively ambitious, gossip nucleus on the planet, and not one person broke that confidence.
That’s more than just something.
For me, that tells you more about the man than any obituary you are ever going to read. That screams respect earned with all he met, in every context, whatever their role or background.
It has been said that Superman was a unique superhero because all the others transformed into their exceptional alter-ego from their initial human persona. Superman was always a super man – Kal-El from Krypton – but had assumed the form of Clark Kent in order to fit it. It was his commentary on the human species.
I’ll leave it to others better qualified to extol the professional achievements of Chadwick Boseman, and to those who knew him best to eulogise the person with specific detail.
I’ll say only that played a superhero on film, and in real life, he played the best Clark Kent.
In time, we will doubtless then learn more about what made him so special and a real-life superhero to so many.
Rest in peace.