My Tribute to Luke Perry

So here it is close to 2:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep, which isn’t uncommon. What is uncommon over the past few years is me actually writing an original post for this website. Sure, all the articles I write for FanSided make their way here but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually written something just to write. It’s something I told myself I would start doing when I celebrated the fifth anniversary of this site nearly a year ago, which happens to be the last original post that came from The Luke Norris Experience, but I didn’t follow through. Shocking, right? So why did I wait until the death of a 52-year-old actor whom I never met to do this? Well, allow me to explain.

Like so many of you reading this, when I see that some sort of celebrity has passed away, whether it be an actor or a sports figure or whatever, I tend to look back at what that person has accomplished or given the world, maybe chime in on a post or two but then I just go on with my day. After all, it doesn’t really affect my own life and a week or two later, the majority of the hoopla surrounding such a death is gone from the media cycle anyway, right? So why even take the time to write something on Luke Perry? Well, it’s because this one actually stung a little bit.

Perhaps some of you may want to laugh at me for that. Maybe some of you want to laugh or get upset with anyone that actually takes time out of their day to post something on social media about these celebrities because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t feel like it matters at all with everything else going on in the world. North Korea. The water crisis in Flint. Starving children in Africa. Democrats vs. Republicans. That goddamn wall.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I do read up on all of those things and of course they matter and they’re obviously very important issues. And I could sit here and write about that as well if I felt like it. But here’s the thing. Those actors or musicians or authors or sports figures are people that we sometimes look to in order to escape that “real world” for an episode or a film or a song or a book or a game at a time. They’re people that draw us into their world, even if only for a little while, and make us feel something one way or another and that’s why people post about celebrities. They’re people that we sometimes look to for comfort in a world that doesn’t always give that to us. It’s to remember that this person, someone we may have never met for even one second in our life, brought some sort of joy to our lives at one point in time.

So with all the celebrities out there who have left us too soon, why choose to finally break out of this writing slumber I’ve been in by writing on Luke Perry? For starters, that’s just something I need to do anyway because I know I have more to offer than what I’ve been doing but that’s not the point right now. Sure, I could go into how underrated 8 Seconds is or that fantastic turn he made in doing Oz or showing off some comedic chops in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or how excited I was when I heard that he scored a role in the upcoming Quentin Tarantino flick that’s out this summer, which is now just going to be really freaking brutal to watch. Let’s not forget about that video he was in for The Killers as well. But those that know me know why we’re here. No, it’s not just the Luke thing (that’s not even his real name or any part of his real name for that matter), although I certainly have had my share of being called Luke Perry in my lifetime, which I certainly never minded as it was at least something different than hearing “Luke, I am your father” for the millionth time. That’s not even the right line, people. But I digress. We’re here for Beverly Hills, 90210. We’re here for Dylan McKay.

I have zero problem admitting that I was a sucker for teen dramas, probably longer than I should have been. Dawson’s Creek or One Tree Hill or whatever. But hey, there’s worse things in the world and it all started with that group from Beverly Hills. It didn’t take me long to latch onto the Dylan McKay character and I can truly say that nearly 30 years later, he’s still one of my favorite television characters of all time. Again, maybe that’s something that makes you laugh with all the great characters that have graced the small screen over the course of time but everyone has their favorites and Dylan McKay will always be one of mine. The reason is quite simple. He’s just someone with whom I identified and Luke Perry played him to perfection. Yes, it’s still a teen drama so there’s plenty of crazy storylines and cheesy moments but the Dylan stories were always just a little more interesting and complex.

Okay, there was the love triangle with Dylan, Brenda and Kelly in the early years and what guy hasn’t been torn between the blonde and the brunette at one point or another? I’m obviously joking on that but there’s plenty of truth here. What I’m getting at more is the relationship with his father. That feeling of abandonment at a young age that carries over. That feeling of putting trust back into someone only to be knocked back down again and again. Yes, there’s the father in prison thing that I can certainly relate to as well. There’s a great scene with Dylan just curling up by a candle and crying that really pulls at the heartstrings. This is a guy that plays things so cool on the outside and is simply dying on the inside. A guy that feels so alone even when there are still people around that care about him. Yeah, I think I can relate there and Luke Perry just played it beautifully.

So then the father comes back into the picture and Dylan lets him back in, even when it seems like maybe he shouldn’t. Yep, been there as well. And then Dad dies right in front of him. Okay, my dad didn’t get blown up in a car but like Dylan, I watched my father die right in front of me and that image still haunts me sometimes. There’s this amazing episode, an episode that I kid you not is playing at this moment in the background as I write this, in which Dylan is talking to another version of himself (and later on his childhood self) trying to deal with things before, during and after the funeral and it’s heartbreaking. You know what song was playing at the end of that episode? “Can’t Cry Hard Enough” by The Williams Brothers. So I want to make this tribute video for my father after he died and you know what song I choose to open it? You guessed it. “Can’t Cry Hard Enough” by The Williams Brothers. This was in 2012. That episode, “The Child Is Father to the Man” aired in 1993. That’s how much a silly episode of a teen drama to some can mean to someone else. I’ve watched that episode so many times over the years and I love watching Luke Perry craft his way through that episode. And we’re just going to gloss over the fact that we find out so many years later that the death was staged as I like to pretend those episodes didn’t happen. But even there, there’s a few lines I could throw out that are amazing.

Trust me (and those that know my undying love for that show would back me up on this), I could go on and on with more episodes and get really particular if I were so inclined. I just always enjoyed the character because I could relate to that person in so many ways…the good and the bad. I like to think that I’ve helped people at points in my life but I’ve also knocked plenty of people down with certain comments or actions. I like to think I have a good heart when I’ve got my head on straight but believe me, it’s turned black plenty of times, especially when I let certain things get out of control. I’ve been burned myself on plenty of occasions and in turn, I’ve done my fair share of the burning. On that note, the “May the bridges I burn light the way” line is absolute gold. There were episodes where he turned to writing for comfort and episodes where it seemed he was headed for such bad things if he didn’t turn his life around. In the three decades since Luke Perry took that role, I can still go back and sometimes feel like he’s playing me. So my wife didn’t get killed and heroin never became an issue for me and I’m not quite at the McKay level financially but I think you get the point.

I will say that I’ve never seen an episode of Riverdale but I have heard good things about him on that show and did have plans to check it out at some point. What I have seen is Luke Perry talking about how much he enjoyed taking on the older role in a teen drama because of how much he loved being a father in real life. That’s something he and I definitely shared. And his son is a freaking professional wrestler. How was I not supposed to want to be friends with that guy?

So maybe this whole piece still seems pointless to you and that’s okay. I’m in no position to tell anybody what to do or what to think. Maybe this just gave me the chance…even if he’ll obviously never see it…to say thank you to someone who has entertained me for 30 years and will continue to do through the beauty of streaming and/or DVDs. Or maybe it actually did open the floodgates back up as far as my writing is concerned and that’s something I can thank him for later on.

I’m sure that there are plenty of you reading this that feel the same way about some celebrity you’ve never met. Some actor that’s made you laugh or some musician that has written a song that’s spoken to you. Anyone that you’ve connected to in some way that’s taken you away from the world for even a brief moment. Throw it out there and don’t worry about what someone is going to say about it. Luke Perry was one of those people to me and I’ll never be ashamed to admit that. Rest in Peace, sir. Thank you.

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