Expert: Roger Ebert's Own Ailments May Have Desensitized Him
By Jo Piazza Posted Jun 21st 2011 10:34PM
Roger Ebert's own battle with a life-threatening disease may have desensitized him to the pain of others, psychologists tell PopEater a day after the famed film critic came under fire for a comment about the death of 'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn.
"People who have survived numerous hardships and tragedies as Roger has, often times are either extremely sensitive to the pain and tragedy of others, or can become hardened to the pain of life including the pain of others," explains clinical psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere. "Roger Ebert has stared down death and pain and may now have a more tough-as-nails, survivor approach to life."
In his battle with cancer, Ebert has been through a series of surgeries, first to remove his malignant thyroid in 2002, then his salivary glands in 2003 and his jaw in 2006. He is clearly no stranger to adversity and he has looked death in the face on numerous occasions. That, Gardere tells us, could be the reason he lacked a sensitivity switch this week when discussing the death of Ryan Dunn.
Hours after Dunn was killed in a car accident, Ebert posted the news of his death, followed by "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive."
The Internet responded with a collective "Ouch!" and reaction from fans and critics was immediate and harsh.
Dunn's 'Jackass' co-star Bam Margera called Ebert a "piece of sh*t" and the blogger Perez Hilton lambasted his insensitivity. One comment on his Facebook page read: "Mr. Ebert, your comments yesterday showed a true lack of tact and your inability to relate with the human race. I cannot believe you would, within 24 hours of the incident and before an autopsy, make such a deep and hurtful remark."
Celebrity expert Cooper Lawrence of the Scott & Todd show on PLJ told us that Ebert's remarks were positively shameful.
"Completely insensitive! Even if he feels that way, where is his compassion? Why would you do that moments after the person dies? He's had his own personal tragedy you would think he would know to use discretion before saying anything that would further hurt those who loved Ryan Dunn," Lawrence told us. "More importantly, it was NOT his place to weigh in. Just because you critique someone's work does not give you the right to publicly critique their death."
Many other reactions were unprintable, even by 'Jackass' standards.
The film critic backpedaled on Tuesday afternoon, writing on his Chicago Sun-Times blog: "I have no way of knowing if Ryan Dunn was drunk at the time of his death. I don't know what happened in this case, and I was probably too quick to Tweet."
Crisis managers say that Ebert is doing the right thing, but there is more to be done.
"He seems to be backing away from it already by saying he tweeted to soon. Ebert should apologize for being flip and insensitive about the breaking news. It was a terrible accident and this didn't make it any better," Public Relations executive and crisis guru Scott Tangney of Makovsky and Company tells us. "There is a time and a place for delivering a message. Thoughtfulness counts in these matters."
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