Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' Final Moments... Should This Video Have Been Released?
This video aired on VH1's "Rock Docs" special that featured Left Eye from TLC. Her friend in the passenger's seat caught the accident on camera.
It's kinda eerie. She was the only one wearing a seatbelt (lap belt), yet she was the only one killed; None of her friends really know what caused the crash, yet they all screamed before the car veered off the road; and Lisa seemed extremely calm during the whole thing--not to mention the fact that whoever was shooting the film never put the camera down before impact.
It's very strange.
The bigger question is was it right for this tape to be released to the public? Is it right to broadcast someone's last moments and re-open her family's, friends' and fans' wounds?
Below is a piece written by Neely Tucker of the Washington Post. In it she discusses the VH1 documentary which Lopes had filmed, and also analyzes her mental state during her last days while on her "spiritual retreat" in Honduras.
In life, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, the "L" in the pop group TLC, was probably best known for burning down the Atlanta mansion of her boyfriend, NFL star Andre Rison.
In death, after she was killed in a car crash in Honduras in 2002, she was again famous for something other than singing, when a picture of her corpse was a morbid Internet sensation briefly before it was taken down.
Tonight at 9, VH1 and VH1 Soul debuts "Last Days of Left Eye," a 90-minute documentary that includes a clip of the fatal wreck, shot from inside the car. Lopes was filming a documentary about herself and a camera operator was sitting in the passenger seat when Lopes lost control of the SUV she was driving. The last sound is Lopes screaming. The last thing filmed is the onrushing ditch where her car would crash.
It has the awful rubbernecking quality of any wreck you see on the highway, and we can only imagine how quickly it's going to be posted on video-sharing Web sites.
But whatever the grotesqueries involved in watching a pretty young woman die, it's fair to say the 30-year-old Lopes would have wanted you to see it. In a career downturn after personal upheavals and alienating her band mates, Lopes had taken a camera crew to Honduras to document a 30-day self-styled spiritual retreat with friends and family. She opened up her mind, body and thought to the camera, sometimes to cringe-inducing effect.
The wreck clip was included with her family's consent, and director Lauren Lazin ("Tupac: Resurrection") says that after viewing more than 200 hours of raw footage she was convinced that Lopes would have wanted it that way.
"She embraced just showing everything," Lazin said in a telephone interview this week. "She talks about death in a very different way. I don't think she was looking forward to it, but she saw it as a transition to another state of being, and I tried to use that in the film."
The show is much too long, but TLC fans will get a recap of the group's career, along with footage of Lopes growing up in Philadelphia, and plenty of her beliefs about numerology, astrology and herbal dieting. Perhaps more of the latter than you want to see. We're thinking of the scene in which she forces members of an aspiring girl group who've come along on the retreat to drink her foul-tasting concoctions, until one of them says, "Sorry," and vomits on camera.
Lopes was at her best onstage, where her mugging and impish personality were framed by the restrictions of a four-minute song. She wrote the rap parts of the group's 1990s string of hits (which were produced by LA Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds) and provided the group's edginess. On their 1994 disc, "CrazySexyCool," Lopes was the "crazy" one.
It wasn't entirely an act. As she reflects on film, she burned Rison's house amid a series of violent arguments about fidelity. As a means of proclaiming her love for him, she carved "Love" into her forearm with a razor while serving time in alcohol rehab after that incident. When he didn't visit her as often as she wanted -- this just after she burned his house down -- she carved "Hate" over it.
"Look how nice it came out," she says at one point in the retreat, holding up her arm for the camera.
As the show progresses, the degree of her narcissism and turbulent thought patterns becomes achingly clear. She's riding in a car that hits and kills a 10-year-old boy, and her analysis of this tragedy is that a spirit chasing her killed the boy instead. She holds up the dead boy's shoes for the camera and muses that his name was Lopez, like hers. A clip of her on MTV a year or so before her death shows her proudly describing the 40-day fast she's on as part of her "self-cleansing" regimen. What was most clear was how ill she looked.
This was clearly a talented, troubled young woman who needed serious counseling, not to be playing nude in the Honduran rain forest, talking about how she always wanted to be "in the jungle, naked, friends with all the animals."
It's a pity she never found the peace she so clearly sought. Instead, we have her life, loss, fame and early demise all caught on film.
Truly, sadly, the way things are now.