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Jonathan Kraut: Walker and Rodas

Posted: January 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.

The entertainment community and fans worldwide will for many years remember Nov. 30, 2103, as a tragic day.

Speeding at an estimated 100 miles per hour on Hercules Street near Kelly Johnson Parkway in Santa Clarita, actor Paul Walker and companion Roger Rodas perished.

Rodas was at the wheel of his Porsche Carrera GT when it crashed into a tree and burst into flames.

Thousands have come from around the world to the site of the crash to “pay tribute” to actor Walker.

Both Walker and Rodas had just departed a nonprofit fundraiser they hosted for a quick spin around the neighborhood. The county coroner’s report states that Rodas was at the wheel and that both bodies were badly charred in the fire that immediately followed the Porsche’s crash.

Coroner’s reports indicated that Rodas was killed in the crash but that Walker survived it at least for a brief time.

Both suffered massive internal bleeding, multiple broken bones and damaged organs in the explosive collision and fire that consumed them seconds after the crash.

Walker portrayed a smooth-talking, good looking, happy-go-lucky undercover agent who stood by his car-racing allies in the “Fast & Furious” movie series.

Because of his on-screen charm and role of good guy who breaks the law to avenge and rescue his movie co-stars, many fans developed emotional connections created by this mythical duality.

Imagine in real life a cop who goes under cover to break up a street-racing, money-laundering network of adrenaline junkies and ends up becoming an integral part of this criminal family and lifestyle.

Walker’s role and this story line for many are the best of both worlds — a cop who defends the law except when his criminal associates need him to come to the rescue.

In other words, the “Fast & Furious” movie series success is based on a good guy ignoring the law in favor of loyalty to a criminal organization of which he had become a part.

The Signal reported a few days ago that fans from around the world continue to come to the Santa Clarita industrial area where the crash occurred to pay respects to Walker. One TV station interviewed a woman on the news sobbing uncontrollably.

She said, “My son and I bonded over the ‘Fast & Furious’ series. I can’t believe he (Walker) is gone.”

It is a sad tribute to American society when a woman and her son need a movie series about racing, partying, and dangerous behavior in order to “bond.”

There is discussion of renaming Hercules Street in honor of Walker. I am sure soon some enterprising business person will capitalize on this “sacred site.”

A permanent memorial, vintage race car showroom, and Paul Walker museum are sure to appear one day.
While promoting the last moments in the lives of Walker and Rodas makes good business sense, the underlying messages of their deaths seem to have been ignored.

Rodas was reckless in his actions. Walker’s teen daughter is without a father. Fans and co-workers have lost a hero and friend.

Rodas certainly leaves a string of broken hearts in the wake of his death as well.

Revving motors to offer a sign of respect at the crash site is like showing a picture of someone shooting meth in honor of an addict who took an overdose.

The deaths of Walker and Rodas are reminders to act with maturity and responsibility.

It is ironic that Walker’s life ended by allowing his desire for speed and excitement to overcome common sense — just like in the movies.

A high-speed joy ride by gang members would have been regarded as stupid and reckless. But somehow if a movie star is involved, immature actions are forgotten.

The real lesson here is that notoriety and fame seem to trump responsible conduct. Just like the character Walker played on-screen, everything seems to be forgiven when the star chooses loyalty and danger to friends and ignores maturity and responsible conduct.

Self-destructive behavior is a vice, not a virtue, no matter who is involved.

Jonathan Kraut is a local private investigator and serves in the Democratic Party of the SCV and SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays in The Signal.



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