Ebert has long been someone that I looked up to as a writer and as a journalist. I can remember settling in and watching Siskel & Ebert with my grandmother to find out what new movies were good or bad or otherwise when I was a child.
Over the past few years, I began to look up to Roger Ebert for a different reason. As cancer ravaged his face, Ebert became a source of strength for those of us with body image issues. How can I complain about my belly, which is something I can control, when Ebert clearly had no problems being in public with no lower jaw. His self-deprecating humor and wit continued to be something I appreciated and admired.
That's why I think people today have had such a visceral reaction to his death. He was a guy that nearly everyone knew. He was a guy that nearly everyone had an opinion about, but we all respected him and loved him for different reasons. He took himself seriously, but he never took himself too seriously. He was just Roger.
I'm just glad that Ebert found his soulmate in his wife Chaz. My thoughts are with her tonight. She's lost more than we have, but we've all lost something, too. We've lost an American Icon. You know you're a big deal when even the Onion breaks character a bit in salute.
I give the news of Roger Ebert's death two thumbs down, but his life gets two thumbs way up.