Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Michael Jackson and the raw cash value of death

Interesting news from France, where five Michael Jackson fans have been awarded symbolic damages to compensate for the pain and suffering they endured when he died in 2009. There’s been much academic contemplation of the effect that celebrities have on the lives and emotions of their fans but this may be the first attempt to quantify that impact. If the death of Jackson is worth a euro, how much for Amy Winehouse or Shirley Temple?

Which ties in quite neatly with Robin Ince’s musings about five high-profile deaths that took place 20 years ago this year. His thrust is that very few people have been able to fill the respective spaces left by the quintet but I remember feeling a sense of loss about all of them – apart from Lindsay Anderson, to be brutally honest, who was the oldest and seemed to have passed his peak by then, although I loved and still love If... The deaths of Kurt Cobain and Bill Hicks were shocking because they were so young, although in retrospect they shouldn’t have been surprising; the odd thing about Hicks was that his final illness wasn’t caused by the drugs or cigarettes that he consumed and espoused. Jarman and Potter had played out their terminal conditions in full view of the cameras; had they been living/dying now, they’d be blogging away quite merrily about the fact. Had I found myself in a courtroom in OrlĂ©ans attempting to monetise my grief, I’d probably have asked for the biggest wedge for Hicks – maybe ten quid – followed by Potter then Cobain, Jarman and Anderson you could have had for free. Or is that not how it works?

PS: Hadley Freeman makes some good points on how the media should be covering celebrity demises in the interwebnets age, with particular reference to poor old Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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