This is a real story. 

Fair warning: I will not publish comments making fun of this poor guy, or of suicide. Don’t waste your time.

What strikes me as so odd about Lady Gaga’s tweet is the idea that “the culture” led Zombie Boy to kill himself. The man turned his entire body into an advertisement for his own mental illness. What would Lady Gaga have “the culture” do? Is this the fault of “the culture,” or of this man?

Or is it the fault not of the culture, but of a culture — such as elite pop culture, including the high fashion world in which Zombie Boy moved and modeled — that sees plain evidence of a man’s suffering and internal disorder, made manifest in his body, and refuses to regard that as a sign of mental illness?

Think of it: Rick Genest had his skin permanently altered so that he would resemble a skeleton. This turned out to be his ticket to partying with the elites. And we’re shocked that he killed himself?

He reminds me of this quote by Kierkegaard:

What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music…. And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ – that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.’

Zombie Boy was no poet, for pity’s sake, but he was a despairing, possibly mentally ill, man whose sickness was celebrated by a culture that ought to have been challenging him, and finding him help.

This is the same elite culture, by the way, that sees the extraordinarily high suicide rate for transgenders, and blames “the culture” for not accepting and affirming them. The idea that some, maybe even most, transgenders are suffering from mental disorder that cannot be healed through surgery, chemicals, or marching everyone through a cultural re-education camp — well, that never occurs to them.

Again, if you want to have a serious conversation about mental illness and cultural standards, please contribute to the comments thread. If you only want to mock this man who murdered himself, or rant on one side of another, save yourself the trouble of posting, because I’m not going to approve it.