Mark Salling is Dead… And I’m Surprisingly Okay With It…
Like many of the rest of you, my thoughts have been reeling for the past couple days over the suicide of Glee actor Mark Salling. His passing has definitely strewn up a lot of uncomfortable, conflicting emotions for all of us.
This is caused largely by the fact that most people have a real problem separating the actor the person from the character they play, and from the public persona that they project. I’ve blogged about this before. This is particularly evident with people like Mark who are apparently quite a bit different in real life than what we think they are.
Mark’s character Noah “Puck” Puckerman was never one of my favorite characters. But he was one of Glee’s more popular characters especially in the first couple of seasons. He was a very talented actor and musician. Many people looked up to him. His passing has stirred up a lot of emotions in people in the Glee fandom.
Many people are feeling an immense feeling of sadness over the loss of this man and the character he played. Others are feeling angry because of what he did both in life, and now in death.
I thought that what he had done was fairly common knowledge, but I’ve run into a number of people on Twitter who somehow didn’t know what happened so I will recap briefly.
In December 2015 police raided his house and confiscated his cell phone, computer, flash drive, and other media; and Mark was arrested for possession of child pornography.
A former girlfriend of his (not Naya) had turned him in, and police were surveilling him online for weeks, building up a case before they finally arrested him. He was lead out in handcuffs, and there was a whole media circus around it, as you would expect. But as often happens with celebrities, he was in and out of jail in only a few hours. The very next day he was photographed going into a T-Mobile store getting a new phone to replace the one that the police confiscated.
At the time many fans were in denial and tried to minimize what was going on in their heads, and in social media. Surely this was only a few images. Probably just some barely legal girl that he dated. Something he downloaded accidentally. Something someone else put on his computer.
But as it turned out it was much more than that. The specific crime that he was charged with initially indicated that he had at least 2000 sexually compromising images in his possession of children under 12. (Under 12!) Still many people doubted it, and some even attacked a girlfriend for reporting him. I even read somebody say that she was somehow framing him as revenge over a breakup or something. Wow!
Things started to settle down a bit while no new information was revealed. It took a few more months before more specific details to come out, but for a long time it was believed that he only had a few thousand pictures.
The disgusting reality is that it was much worse than that. Police found over 50,000 – that’s not a typo! – sexually explicit images and videos of young children as young as three years old. That’s pictures and videos of little boys and girls being molested! More specifically, according to court documents, there were:
- Over 50,000 pornographic images and video of young children, many of which were photographed engaging in sex acts with adult men.
- The bulk of his stash featured children under the age of ten.
- Some of the victims have been identified from the U.K., and several of the images were created in Great Britain involving “known victims of child exploitation.”
- Some of the images depicted violence.
- Some of the photos and videos “portrayed sadistic or masochistic conduct” by the adult males in the images.
- In total there were: approximately 25,000 still images of child pornography, approximately 600 videos of child pornography, and approximately 29,000 images and 160 videos of “child erotica.”
- In addition to the images he had saved, he also had a sickening “how to” manual describing how to rape small girls (between 3 and 6 years old) – a pedophiles instruction guide, which would indicate that even if he wasn’t molesting kids himself, he was definitely thinking about it. He wouldn’t have saved it otherwise.
He was NOT a nice man!
These were someone’s little brothers or sisters who were being victimized to feed his sick fetish!
This could have gotten him a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. However, back in October 2017, he and his lawyers manage to plea-bargain it down to four to seven years with 10 years of supervised release, in exchange for a guilty plea. It took over 2 years to agree to this because Mark didn’t want jail time, but federal prosecutors refused to agree to any plea agreement that didn’t include it. Part of the plea agreement that he reached with prosecutors included restitution for the victims that had been identified.
With his death, since the plea agreement was never formally filed, the plea agreement is null and void, and those victims will not get the promised restitution.
Mark was out on bail awaiting formal sentencing when he apparently decided that he could not live with the consequences of his actions and hung himself in a park adjacent to a Little League baseball field.
Even in death he’s hurting children. Bastard!
People are understandably reeling from this most recent event. I know that I have a lot of conflicting feelings myself. A human being died, and for that I’m sad, but not really for him. I’m mostly sad for the people that he left behind: his friends, his family, the Glee cast and crew. I’m having a really hard time having any sympathy for Mark himself. He made his bed, but was too much of a coward to lay in it. To my knowledge he never even released a statement apologizing to his families and victims for what he did.
It’s OK to feel sadness. It’s OK to feel anger. It’s OK to feel this profound sense of loss both for the person, and for the character that he portrayed, and will now never portray again.
It’s OK for people who know him to express their grief and share stories about the good times with him. It’s OK to celebrate the character, and what he meant to you. It’s also OK to express anger and disgust. These are very healthy reactions.
But what is not OK – and I need to be very clear here – is to compare what happened to Mark with what happened with Cory Monteith, which a lot of people seem to be doing.
Cory Monteith was a victim. He had an illness, and that illness killed him; specifically he tried to get help for his addiction (rehab) and according to his autopsy, when he relapsed, his body could not handle the amount of drugs that he had taken previously and he accidentally overdosed.
Mark Salling was a pedophile, and a creep, and a child predator, and who knows what else. He directly or indirectly victimized children to feed his sick fetish!
Yes, as some people have pointed out, pedophilia is in the manual of mental disorders (DSM-V). So are depression, gender dysphoria, and many other things. So what! That’s not what killed him. He did this to himself. What he was doing was a horrible crime. He got caught and couldn’t face the consequences of his actions so he killed himself.
Cory‘s death was an accident. Mark’s death was deliberate. They are not even close to the same thing, and it’s offensive to Cory, and his memory, to mention them in the same sentence.
What’s also not OK to attack his friends and family when they share their grief. Their son, there brother, their cousin, their coworker, their friend is dead. Regardless of what he did in life, he meant something to them, and they deserve to grieve as well. Their grief is just a little different from the fandom because they actually knew, or at least thought they knew, him; not just the public perception of him or the role that he played.
Do not attack the people who feel the need to express the grief, especially his family and the Glee cast and crew. The other day Matt Morrison tweeted a picture of the two of them and Cory along with a comment about angels, and many people were understandably upset by this. It was offensive! There is a special place in hell for people like Mark! He definitely is not in the same place as Cory right now.
But Matt was Mark‘s friend, and while he knew him for like 10 years, clearly there was a lot about him he didn’t know. He’s hurting. He’s in shock, and he’s still processing everything that’s happened. Forgive him for a momentary lapse in judgment.
Most of the rest of the cast have chosen to grieve in private, and have sadly been hounded about it on social media. The others who have posted have been subdued about it: Iqbal Theba, Jane Lynch, and Heather Morris.
As for me I’m angry. I’m angry that Mark has chose to betray the trust that Ryan and Fox put in him when they cast him as a character on the show, and put him in a position of being a role model to millions of viewers. I’m very angry that the sick bastard of a man has hurt so many people!
I’m also profoundly sad for all of the people that he hurt: his friends, his family, his fans; but most of all his victims who will have to deal with the consequences of his sick perverted fetish for the rest of their lives! They’re the ones who deserve our thoughts and prayers! He will get none of mine.
Relevant Supporting Documents: