Matthew Perry and the Cult of Celebrity

I never saw an episode of “Friends,” but that is probably because I am from the television era that began with black- and-white pictures and television screens so small you had to draw a chair up to the box to see a flickering image. Back then, celebrity was a byproduct of talent and accomplishment. I did have breakfast once with another “Friends” cast member, David Schwimmer, who was in town to promote a film. The female servers swarmed our table.


One of the stars on “Friends,” Matthew Perry, 54, died last week in a hot tub in Los Angeles. No cause of death has been announced, pending toxicology report s. Perry reportedly had a long history of addiction to alcohol and opioids.

If drugs were the cause of death, he was not alone. So many performers have taken drugs because of their wide availability, some of them thinking they will enhance their performance and others just for the way it makes them feel. Legions of fans don’t seem to be enough to satisfy their emotional needs. One can’t have meaningful relationships with fans.

According to the Daily Mail, Perry “let the world know how lonely he was and how

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