Saturday, November 29, 2014

Was Chris McCandless Brave, Misunderstood, or Simply Batshit Crazy?

PBS the other day had a documentary trying to figure him out through the eyes of his sister, half-sisters, and his parents, and I don't think any of them are closer to figuring him out than they were back when he died in 1992.

I think it is pure denial by ALL of the parties. Unfortunately, the myth of McCandless still exists thanks in large part due to Jon Krakauer's book, Into the Wild, and Sean Penn's movie of the same name. Yes, I read the book and saw the film. What is likely is McCandless suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness and became a street person for the last two years of his life. Everything points to that.

I mean, who in the hell in his or her right mind goes into the Alaskan wilderness almost or completely unprepared for the hardships unless that person is mentally ill or has a death wish?

An Alaskan writer named Craig Medred has gotten a lot of criticism for his pointed, even vicious, criticism of McCandless's careless antics, but in honesty, his writings about the so-called adventurer come close to the real story.

An example of Medred's writing is here:

Since Krakauer, the maker of the literary magic and a man who seems interested in nothing in life so much as book sales, wants to revisit his defining character, isn't it about time for a painful and objective public consideration of the real McCandless, given that he has now been dead long enough that no one really needs to play nice about his behaviors preceding his death?

Enough with Krakauer and his mysterious poisons, isn't it about time to wash off the makeup Krakauer put on the corpse of the offspring of a very comfortable American upbringing and take a serious look at the boy-man beneath?

What you find there is not very pretty. It could leave many more than a little troubled that some schools in America actually encourage students to read Krakauer's eulogy to the bum, poacher and thief Chris McCandless as if his behaviors had redeeming value.

Medred ought to write a book about him.

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