But this post isn't really about Heath Ledger. It's more about the ghouls that have appeared upon his demise, the most notorious being one "Reverend" Fred Phelps.
Professional ghoul "Reverend" Fred Phelps has got himself involved in protests at Heath Ledger's funeral, just as he's got himself involved in other funerals over the years (most infamously at the funerals of American servicemen who have died in action. Whatever anyone may think of Bush's militarism, you can't blame the rank and file soldiers for signing up to defend their country). His message: that his god hates... well, just about everyone except himself and his deranged little band of followers. They've even sung a song about it (although they've had to steal the music from somebody else): there's an old blog link to it here, (although the content it once linked to is now showing a "This content has been removed!" label.)
Now, I'm not particularly well versed in matters Biblical, but, living as I do in a country which has a de jure state religion, it's hard not to get at least some exposure to the basic tenets of said state religion. One of these is a quick quote about how much the country's state religion's god did everything but hate the world. Or, directly from a version of the Bible which was for some centuries that same state religion's official translation: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Call me an ignorant agnostic if you like, but that doesn't sound all that much like hate to me.
So, if the Phelpsites' god isn't the god that the various Christian denominations pray to, then which god is it? Now, this whole business of god hating the world actually sounded quite familiar, but not from what I'd really put up as an incontrovertible source. Not that I'd have anything to quibble about in the scholarship that went into the writing of the source, but simply that it was... a comic book. (Particularly seeing as most of my old comics are in no particular order in boxes (if they're lucky) in a spare bedroom I really need to organise one of these days. That makes actually finding them a bit difficult).
A few years back, a well known comic writer started up a creator-owned story which I tried the first couple of issues of and thought well worth pursuing. It started off as an intriguing looking meta-story about the nature of story, storytelling and myth. However, half a dozen issues in it got bogged down in digressions about various forms of magic and spirituality and spent at least a dozen more issues explaining the basic concepts behind a number of mystical or magical systems and fringe religions. One of the fringe religions mentioned, I vaguely recalled, had very much the same idea about its god hating the world.
The next problem is that any official site for said fringe religion would be little less creepy than the "Westboro Baptist Church" itself. (How creepy? Let's just say that the fringe religion's most famous practicioner was that good little Exclusive Brethren boy, Aleister Crowley.
Yes, Fred Phelps is a Satanist.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, you filthy little bigot.
(And if anything I've written here offends a genuine Satanist... then perhaps you guys ought to look a little more closely at the people who believe the same things you do).
A distant second in the creepiness stakes must go to whoever it was who started the rumour that Heath Ledger had been suffering from sleep problems due to the stress of playing the Joker. Oh, please. Sure, the Joker could be incredibly creepy when played well, but it's acting, and Heath Ledger was a professional actor. In any case there are characters in film much creepier than the Joker. Look at Hannibal Lecter. And the same actor who played Hannibal also made an excellent job of playing an eccentric old duffer from my home town. Actors != the characters they play.