In 1989, Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp, a couple, both made public declarations about each other in the press:
Winona Ryder: ‘When I met Johnny, I was pure virgin. He changed that. He was my first everything. My first real kiss. My first real boyfriend. My first fiancé. The first guy I had sex with. So he’ll always be in my heart. Forever. Kind of funny that word.’
Johnny Depp: ‘I’d die for her. I love her so much. I don’t know what I would do without her. She’s going through a lot right now. I wish I could just kiss away the pain, make it go away, stop it, kill it! If she, you know, I don’t know what I would do. I’d kill myself. I love that girl. I love her. I love her almost more than I love myself.’
A couple of years later, Ryder and Depp broke up. Even though it didn’t last, and they didn’t die (or who knows, maybe they did. Ryder certainly died in some ways, and Depp did too, in his ways), here they are, two Hollywood stars at the top of their game, saying this about each other in print. Talking about dying when, according to Hollywood, which considers itself reason enough to live, these two have everything—not just each other—to live for. Today public relations would nuke a statement like this. Today no one ever takes old words lost to lost worlds like ‘die’ and ‘forever’ seriously. Nor would anyone even think to publicly state this about someone else, someone they love, let alone an actor in print. Today public relations would tell—or worse, would no longer have to—Ryder and Depp not to talk like that in public because talking like that is morose and alienates fans, especially when the lovers in question are young, famous sex symbols. Can we imagine two actors saying this today, killing their burgeoning careers with melodramatic words like forever and die, when most celebrity couples won’t even discuss their love lives, let alone admit to dying over a breakup? For a while, Gwyneth Paltrow, once good friends with Ryder, talked about her first big love, Brad Pitt, this way. But after they broke up, and she became a seasoned actor both on and off the screen, Paltrow, like Depp and Ryder, stopped talking like that, stopped talking about love period, which means that maybe a part of Paltrow stopped being able to feel that way. After all, how one talks is also how one lives.