The XX Factor

The Predictable Death of Heiress Casey Johnson

It’s difficult to write about the life of Casey Johnson, the 30-year-old Johnson & Johnson heiress who was found dead yesterday, without being accused of speaking ill of the dead. Gawker did a good, sober job of summarizing Johnson’s three decades. Here are some salient facts: a one-time cohort of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie who said turning down a chance to appear on the reality show The Simple Life was a huge mistake, Johnson was most recently engaged to bisexual reality star Tila Tequila . Johnson’s adopted daughter, Ava, is currently living with Johnson’s mother, allegedly because Johnson couldn’t get clean. Johnson incited many bar brawls in the poshest watering holes of Los Angeles and New York. She publicly battled her aunt in the pages of Vanity Fair over a man in 2006. A Jezebel post claims that the tabloid coverage of Johnson’s death sensationalized Johnson’s newfound lesbianism . Tabloids sensationalize everything, that’s their job, and they didn’t really have to try very hard to make Johnson’s behavior sound outrageous-in ways that had nothing to do with her sexuality.

Johnson’s death follows an ancient and tragic script-lots of people with too much money and a narcissistic bent meet a similar demise. Of course, it doesn’t make her death any less sad for the people who knew her. The most chilling part of that Vanity Fair article is when Johnson discusses her legacy:

It’s so boring to do nothing. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It’s, like, how many days a week can you actually go shopping? You get burned out. And you feel like shit. You think, What have I ever done to alter this world? What will people say? “Oh, she had a lot of shoes” ?

Perhaps her death also signifies the true end of the Hilton brand of way-too-wealthy vapidity, which has been on the decline for years.

Photograph of Casey Johnson by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images.