Alexander Supertramp…A Follow-Up
Posted by bmac on April 29, 2008
I’m about to have my one year blog-aversary, if you will, and I thought I’d mark it with a follow up to the most popular post, hands down, in the one year history of this blog. This one, about Chris McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp.
This story has extraordinary staying power, for a lot of reasons. It appeals to the spirit of wanderlust in all of us, the thrill of leaving the system behind and doing what you want, and it also has a tragic ending to boot. With pictures. It’s also interesting that fame has been posthumously cast onto a guy that probably never would have wanted it, a guy that, during his 2 year sojourn, didn’t tell anyone his real name.
It also helps that he was a good looking kid.
I still get about 2 or3 heartfelt comments a week on that post, now almost six months old. That’s pretty unusual, at least for me. When I wrote it, I was only commenting on the episode of “Iconoclasts” I’d seen on TV. I’ve since read John Krakauer’s book, and I hate to say, seen Sean Penn’s film adaptation. As much as I loathe Sean Penn, I will say he did an outstanding job adapting Krakauer’s book. He’s still a world class douchebag, but credit where credit is due.
In hindsight, there’s not really a political slant to the story. It is what it is. I wouldn’t call Chris a liberal now, in fact, I don’t think he had a specific political leaning at all. Like his own brief life, his politics were all over the map. It’s the rest of us that project politics onto him, myself included.
It’s hard to not like Chris McCandless, even if you think he was an idiot. There’s just something about his story that makes you hope it’ll turn out alright, even though you know it doesn’t. His beaming smile and enthusiasm for adventure are contagious, and that makes his tragic end all the more compelling.
It’s a complex story, and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but what it is, is thought provoking. That’s what makes it a fascinating topic, and one that has gotten so much mileage. Love him or hate him, he did what he had to do, and he did it with no regrets, at least as far as it seems. That last photo of him smiling, hours before his death, is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Maybe that’s what grabs people, a guy that took his fate into his own hands, and fully accepted the consequences.