People Like Dead People
People are more interesting when they’re dead. Harsh, I know, but it’s true. Van Gogh never sold a painting in his lifetime. Well, some say he did sell one. Either way, his suicidal death was definitely not driven by the stress that accompanies public scrutiny and incredible fame. Fast forward one-hundred-and-twenty-something years and even the most art-deprived of souls can recognize the swirly clouds that make Starry Night.
It wasn’t really Van Gogh who brought this thought to mind. Not Thoreau either. Sadly, it’s more of the recent deaths that did it—deaths of people who are/were already famous. Michael Jackson. Amy Winehouse. And now, of course, Whitney Houston. I didn’t think Michael Jackson could be any more fascinating, but the late King of Pop’s posthumous business empire raised his net worth by almost 50 percent (that’s what the guys at Forbes claim). That doesn’t mean his entourage of financial helpers suddenly became mastermind businesspeople. It means we (Demand) were suddenly even more interested. Here comes Supply.
Aww. Paris and Blanket eat Lucky Charms for breakfast? MY kids eat Lucky Charms for breakfast.* I didn’t buy a commemorative coin, but I did embarrassingly applaud in the middle of the theater while watching Michael Jackson practice his never-performed concert in “This Is It” (reflex). And I was one of the hundreds of thousands of people who watched Cirque du Soleil’s “The Immortal World Tour.” You know how concerts are always deemed to be “sold out,” but when you get there, you find a sea of empty seats? That wasn’t the case. I looked around me during the height of the performance and the stadium was truly and impressively at full occupancy. Anyway, while I would definitely have paid to watch Michael Jackson sing Dirty Diana at a concert while he was alive, I would definitely not have made a special cinematic adventure out of it.
Really, while not stated quite as bluntly, this whole people-are-more-interesting-when-dead thing is common knowledge. That’s why Sony mistakenly (reaaaallly???) hiked up the prices of Whitney Houston’s albums upon announcement of her death. The almost five-dollar price increase was reflected in iTunes, but not to worry, this has supposedly all been rectified, and prices are back to normal.
People like dead people—not in a creepy zombie-like way, but in a totally normal, heightened-interest-level kind of way.
* I don’t have kids, and I don’t know what Paris and Blanket eat for breakfast.