Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Farrah's Story


I watched the documentary, Farrah's Story, last Friday night. It has stayed with me for days. It brought back many memories of caring for family members, not to mention facing my own mortality. If any of you watched it, I would love to hear your take on it.

Alana Stewart filmed the scenes of Farrah Fawcett going through agonizing treatments here and simultaneously in Germany. She also filmed when Farrah received bad news from her doctors. I won't go into details, but my heart broke for her. In the meantime, friend Alana is alleged to have held out for a bigger title (producer) and more money ($200,000). Long time partner, Ryan O'Neil is talking sequel. He said he could hurry it through, as he has all the tape. That's because she is now bedridden, and at the end of her life.

My question to you - do you think this type of programming is exploitative? Or is it something you feel should be on television, as part of life issues?

33 comments:

Jeninacide said...

I haven't watched it but as soon as I saw it I thought, "even in her last breath she is trying to capitalize on it?" I guess it wasn't her that was trying to capitalize though, was it? I think it's undignified.

Cheryl said...

I think it has the potential to be exploitative, but hopefully the backlash towards an exploiter would be enough of a deterrent.

But programs like this, considering the more tasteless reality games out there right now, might help people be more compassionate and less fearful death. We used to see the end of life process much more closely, but now it's more remote a a process. I personally wouldn't feel like watching such programs right now, but I can see how they can be helpful.

Lover of Life said...

Jenin - I think Farrah's intention was to bring the lack of funding for rare cancers into the light. But it has the feel of exploitation, in this particular case.

Cheryl - I totally agree. This was a discussion in many HDFS classes. I feel we need to discuss it more. and bring it into the light. Make it about living from a lifespan perspective. But that old ingrained culturally programed desire to not talk it about it is really strong in this country.

Valerie said...

I've seen a few of these programmes. The patients are very brave but I feel uneasy about the wisdom of such films. Surely death isn't something to share. There are parts of life we keep private, why not death?

Lover of Life said...

Valerie - I have to agree, talking about it, and making money off of it, seems incongruous somehow. I think from a personal point of view, I would want at least most of it private.

Expat From Hell said...

I saw most of this program, and my first impulse was that it was indeed exploitative. Then, it seemed to reach deeper, to be a more real-life experience by someone who has to face the medical community and her own mortality all at once. It was very sad, and hard to watch. Harder still to absorb. I have always loved Farrah, but knowing that ol' Ryan is behind it makes me think there's money in the deal.

ExpatFromHell

Lover of Life said...

ExPat - I felt the same way. I have always admired her, but something felt odd about the Ryan and Alana alliance. Especially after reading that article. It has haunted me for days - I don't think I'll watch a sequel.

Bogey said...

I think anybody who takes advantage of a deathly ill person like that should be placed on the rack and stretched to the limit. No tolerance for that at all.

Lover of Life said...

Bogey - I wonder if it started out that way? Or did egos get involved and $$ change the original intent? But then I think maybe they needed the money. Treatment is so expensive. Blessings to Farrah.

Marguerite said...

I didn't see it, but feel that it should be there for those who want or need to see this sort of story. Many issues can be brought to light. We all have a choice about what programs we watch and don't watch on television. I think that it's an individual preference.

Lover of Life said...

Marguerite - Good point.

nurturingwisdom said...

I didn't watch the program on Farrah. I remember how beautiful she was as a starlet on Charlie's Angels.

Her fight with cancer has been heroic. I am deeply saddened to hear how sick she is. I hope that her loved ones are not taking advantage of the situation. I would like to think that certain things were done to help pay for the medical bills.

I am also hoping that Farrah accepts God's love and peace, and that she is surrounded by those who truly love her and respect her.

I'll be praying for her and her family.

PeacefulWmn9 said...

It stayed with me, too, and is with me still. I think she is an example of courage.

I only think these things should be on television by request or permission of the person most involved, in this case, Farrah.

I think she did hoping to bring attention to the reality of cancer, and the need for further research for cures.

Most of us, though, at least by my age, have already seen or experienced it up close and personal.

I do think when someone of her noteriety goes public, it reaches more people.

Karen

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Having cared for my mom, who died in my home of cancer last June, I know firsthand how difficult those final days can be. And having had cancer and six months of chemotherapy myself, I can understand Farrah's desire to use her pain for good. However, when she reaches those very final days, she will not be cognizant enough to stop further documentation of her death, and as cancer can be so horrible at the end, I question whether this would qualify as dying with dignity...and I wonder if she would choose to continue the documentation if she knew what those last days entailed. But sadly, she will not be able to make that choice as she will probably slip into a semi-coma during the last days and hours. I think that Ryan O'Neill should not do this. I would not. I would want to protect my loved one's memory...and these images will now be what people will carry with them when they think of Farrah. I've posted pics of my Mom when she was healthy all around my home in order to focus on the beauty of her life rather than the horror of death by cancer. Very excellent Post! So thought-provoking!!!!! You are both brilliant and wonderful to address in such an honest way this difficult subject! Thank you!!!! ~Janine XO

JC said...

I did not see the show but did see a bit of 'it' during promos on tv. I hope it does help but dying isn't a thing I would tape.

I'm sure her hope was that she would live. I'm sure that's everyone's hope.

The $$$ thing .. well, they are actors and maybe ..

Either way, it's sad to see a 'memory' get old cause that means I'm old too ..

Rachael said...

I DVRed it but haven't had time to watch it yet. However, from all the things she's said in interviews, it sounds like she wants to share her story so that people really know what's going on with her struggle.

If that's true, more power to her! If not, I would hate to see someone trying to make a buck off of such a wonderful person in her last days. It didn't seem to me that this first one was intended to be exploitative, but from the sounds of it, this 2nd one very well could be.

Reya Mellicker said...

Whether or not it's exploitive has to do with the person being filmed. If it's OK with Farrah, then I would say no. But if she's allowing it because she's too weak to object then definitely it's unethical.

What do you think?

ellen abbott said...

I didn't see it, won't see it. Again, if Farrah consented then I don't see it as exploitative. She must have had good intentions. However, as she gets nearer to death and cannot continue to give her consent then it should stop.

Exploiting people's pain and suffering for entertainment makes me so angry and ill. Like the reporters who shove the camera and microphone in the person's face whose children have just died in a house fire...tell us, how does it feel to know your children burned to death just now?

Lover of Life said...

nurturingwisdom - One thing that Ryan O'Neill said in the programs is that she has never more beautiful.

Peaceful - I wonder if the sequel would have her permission. She seems not able to communicate much at this time. I'm glad you had the same reaction as I did - the program and Farrah has stayed with me for days.

Sniffles - I am so sorry for your loss. I hope this post did not hurt too much. Having just gone through it, and fighting your own battle, you certainly have first-hand experience. I totally agree with you. Now would be a good time to stop filming.

JC - It had a profound affect on me. Mostly because mortality is so real when you see a beautiful icon from your day succumb to something like cancer.

Rachael - I agree. The first one was different than I think the second one would be.

Reya - I totally agree - I'm not sure she would want the second one. She was proud of her looks and strength. She hated losing her hair. Would she want the very last days, as Sniffles mentioned, filmed when she really can't communicate that wish?

Spiritual Journey said...

It's so sad how many people are taking advantage of a sad situation. I would say it won't look exploitative if they would donate like 50% of the show's revenue to cancer research.

Nancy said...

I haven't watched it, and now I don't know if I want to. I think since she agreed to this she must have wanted to share her story. I don't necessarily think that making money off of it is a bad thing. When I was ill I carried terrible guilt that I was causing financial hardship on my family, she could possibly feel this way. Not to mention when you are ill you want people to know about it so that they can try to prevent it themselves. Also, is there no mention that the money might be donated to charity? With that in mind, does it cause anyone to think it is not exploitive? I wonder if the fact that its being taped by an amateur is why it seems explotive? There are so many things to consider, I don't think we have enough information to make a judgement here.

Lover of Life said...

Spiritual - I wonder if they need the money for bills.

Nancy - I agree - we only know what we read and that is not always the truth, that's for sure.

Jeff D'Antonio said...

Using someones illness and death as a money making opportunity is shameful. If Farrah's wish was to document her journey and bring it to light for the purpose of bringing attention to cancer research, that's fine - but for her "friend" to film her experience and expect to be paid for it, is shameful and exploitative. A real friend would have done whatever her friend asked of her without expecting anything in return.

And at this point, Farrah is far enough along in her journey that she's no longer able to make the kinds of decisions required of her. A real friend would recognize that and turn off the damn camera.

My best friend in the world died of cancer. I was with her every step of the way, and her only wish was to be able to die with dignity and grace, surrounded by the people who loved her. And I did everything in my power to make that wish come true for her. I can not even imagine the thought of personal gain from her suffering. That's just not what friends do.

critterlover said...

I don't think it's exploitive at all. I think she's trying to bring awareness to cancer, research, mortality. Her poor dear father. I can't even imagine.

I think she's brave.

Lover of Life said...

Jeff - I think where I became a little disillusioned was when I read that Alana wanted to be paid, and Ryan said he told her to hold out for more. I agree, if they wanted to help her - couldn't they do that for free? Or if they didn't need the money for healthcare for Farrah, give it to a charity fighting her disease?

Critterlover - Oh, I think she is very brave, as well. And my heart went out to her father! I think exploitation came into question when I read that her friend, Alana, had held out for more money before releasing the film. And supposedly that was at the request of Ryan O'Neill. Then he began talking about a sequel. I think Farrah had the best of intentions, and who knows, maybe she is loved and honored by those around her and the article made it sound different then it actually is. Maybe it's just Hollywood.

MzzLily said...

I think the press was trying to exploit her long before this. The hospital employee that leaked her medical information was exploiting her. This documentary did not. She allowed a personal look into the drama that is her real life. I did not see it, but have seen clips since its release. I think she shows great courage.

Lover of Life said...

Mzz - The hospice worker I think worked for UCLA Med Ctr! Her courageous fight to keep our records safe from this type of exploitation is nothing less than heroic at this time of her life, no doubt.

Linda Pendleton said...

I had not planned to watch it but I started watching and then was somewhat fascinated with her strength..a strength and determination that came out in her, and her willingness and even her insistance for her friend Alana to film even the details of her illness at vulnerable times. As much as we are uncomfortable with death, I think programs done like this was, with taste, should be availble. It takes the fanasty and denial out of it, shows hope and determination, shows courage and love, and shows reality. Ryan has stuck with her throughout her most difficult times. He's had his problems and their son has had his, but obviously Farrah has needed Ryan, and she needed this opportunity to feel she has left a legacy behind. She has shown a tremendous amount of courage. And maybe in her example of courage, another may decide to fight to live and not give up too early.

Lover of Life said...

Linda - I totally agree with bringing end of life issues out into the open. It should be a part of the whole life process, I think. She does show great courage, and Ryan has been there for her - I guess I just feel a little odd about Alana needing to be paid for her help, and Ryan wanting to do a sequel. Am I being too judgmental?

dragonflydreamer said...

I watched Farrah's story on Sunday morning by myself and blogged about it myself. I hadn't read anything about it at the time I watched it. I read an article that talked about the original producer and about how creative control was taken away from him by Alana and Ryan and it was all rushed to be aired on television. I can't remember the gentleman's name, but he said the final version that aired was not Farrah's creative vision of the project which she wanted to follow a diary format rather than the talking heads documentary style. He also said that he had worked with her on "Chasing Farrah" and knows she would not have wanted Redmond filmed especially in his jail outfit and chains. He said that it was important to her that it addressed the questions she had about why experimental medicines and procedures that were successful in Europe are not considered options here in the U.S., why some meds are okay'd for one cancer yet not another, and why some forms of cancer are not given the research and attention as others, I could see the part that Farrah had her hand in and they were moving, thought provoking and brave. In hindsight I do see where it seems to have gotten away from that and borders exploitation. I do know that when Ryan O'Neal was being interviewed he was asked if a part of the money was going toward charity and he played dumb. It' very sad if that is what has happened and I agree that it was obvious at the end that she was no longer able to give consent and it makes me sad. It never explained why she refused to have a colostomy which I read was successful in many cases of anal cancer or why they didn't try to remove the anal tumor before they damaged that area since it was the primary cancer and was continuing to send cancer cells to every organ in her body. I agree with those who are broken hearted just thinking about her poor sweet Daddy. I just pray for her and those who love her. If she cannot win this fight then I pray she will not linger suffering.

Lover of Life said...

dragon - Very well said. I hope she is at peace. I will always remember her the way she looked in the picture on my post.

Natalie said...

Undignified here too.
I watched my beautiful Aunt die last July from cancer, and it is an ugly despicable disease. I would prefer for all people to have dignity and respect at the end. xx♥

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