Lucky Stiffs

Fame is like being the stiff at your own funeral

Remember when Randy & Evi Quaid went off their heads and sought refugee status in Vancouver? They claimed that organized bands of “starwhackers” were targeting the rich and famous, like themselves, for death. The motive was money. The Quaids maintained that with unpredictable and flighty stars out the way, unprincipled business types in three piece suits could gain control of their royalty streams in perpetuity. They could then cash in! Naturally everyone laughed. Sensible folk assumed that the Quaids had gone off their flighty little Hollywood heads, perhaps with the help of crack, meth, or some other substance that required a stint in Dr Drew’s Celebrity Rehab!

Now there is some validation for the Quaids flaky theories. In a story unrelated to the Quaids, 60 Minutes recently covered the new phenomenon of dead earners. A dead earners is a dead celebrity, or “delebrity” as their handlers call them, who continues to make a mint even after passing from this veil of tears.This was made possible by some innovations in law that allow the celebs’ estates to continue marketing the celebrities’ images even after the celebrities themselves have parted company with them. Before that once a famous person died their image, likeness, voice, etc were up for grabs. Any shrewd marketer could stick James Dean or John Wayne on a T shirt or lunch box and cash in to their hearts content. Once the law got changed the estate could put the image etc to work earning money for an indefinite future in a kind of postmortem indentured servitude. To think that they laughed when Scientology offered adherents billion year contracts. Those billion year contracts proved to be decades ahead of their time!

Now milking dead celebs of their residual fame has become a lucrative and even multi billion dollar business on par with developing social networks for the Internet. The agent interviewed in 60 Minutes brags representation of some 250 show business and sports figures the majority of whom lost their vital signs many years back – celebs like Marilyn Munroe, James Dean, Elvis Presley, and the mother of all lucky stiffs Albert Einstein! That has made him, his colleagues in the deleb business, and the estates of the dearly departed wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice! How wealthy you might ask? Well as an indication Michael Jackson earned more last years than her highness Oprah Winfrey!

Jackson has had a real career resurgence since dying. While he lived the poor man was dogged day and night by pedophilia rumours. Nor was that the only image damage he had incurred. He was easy tabloid fodder as stories emerged of him hanging around Bahrain dressed as a Muslim woman, and their were frequent references to the poor man’s freaky plastic surgery. It was believed that he’d had skin bleaching to deblack himself, and that he’d lost his original nose some where long the way. The nose was believed to have been replaced with a paraffin prosthesis which was uncomfortable and could start to melt at high temperatures. So Jackson began leaving the schnoz at home and wore a surgical mask on his infrequent but hi profile jaunts out into the real world. That sort of alleged behavior earned him the moniker of Whacko Jacko and made him unmarketable. His last live venture was a series of performances in London which bombed hard. At the time of his death the Prince of Pop was in debt bad.

Once he died everything changed. Whacko Jacko wasn’t about to mess anything up anymore. So his image was due for some rehabilitation. The Jackson 3 where trotted out at the memorial to proclaim that Jackson was the best dad ever. That kind of killed the pedo stories. Also Jacko got a promotion from Prince of Pop to King – just like his late but still lucrative father in law. A few weepy testimonials from ex wife Lisa Marie Presley and the deal was sealed. Jackson was cleaning up with a vengeance! No one is quite sure where the money is going since the Jackson clan, including his beloved mother, claim that they haven’t seen one thin dime out of the estate handlers. Yet no less an authority than Forbes Magazine declared him the top earner of the year.

So with all these death benefits racking up that brings us back to the Quaids. The whole dead earners angle seems to add even more validity to their flaky story. That validity comes in the form of one of the strongest principles of the lot – quo bono. Quo bono is a fancy Latin legal way of saying “who benefits?“, and in effect means that when there’s a ton of loot to be made there will be some pretty unprincipled operators maneuvering around like sharks on chum to take advantage of the wind fall. If that sounds pretty far fetched then remember that the more decimal points you add behind the dollar sign the less far fetched the scheme seems. Besides, considering how all those corrupt wall street bakers carried on, would you put anything past an executroid in a suit? Now here’s that 60 Minutes piece that puts it in perspective with a lucidity and relevance that Gary the Spaceman Bell might envy!

http://cnettv.cnet.com/av/video/cbsnews/atlantis2/cbsnews_player_embed.swf

That was unintentionally convincing wasn’t it? In fact it might have some of the more conspiratorial minded among you asking “who’s next?” It’s very doubtful that there will be any kind of organized mass cull of celebrities though. Business doesn’t work that way, only power politics. It’s probably closer to the truth that Mark Zuckerberg, in collaboration with Bill Gates and the Rand Corporation are even now developing complicated ‘personality simulator‘ algorithms for computers. That way the current crop of delebrities can be made to do even more with out the need to add to their ranks. They would continue to annoy and irritate ordinary people much the way hologramatic prat Arnold Rimmer did with average guy Dave Lister on Brit com space parody Red Dwarf.

Lively lately – Making the transition to suspended animation

So Walter Cronkite might come back to host the CBS News again, should Katie Couric finally be encouraged to leave. Or Johnny Carson could be conjured up and help NBC with the Leno problem. Since their response parameters would be programed in to some control program; they would make the same remarks, tell the same jokes, and use the same stock phrases as when they were alive. In fact even careful observers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from the hologramtic delebrity’s performance, and their rote routines performed back in life. That is unless some hot shot programmer tweaks the algorithms for charisma, intelligence, emotion, or independent thought. Then the jig would be up when viewers began noticing that their favorite entertainment personalities seemed to lively lately! Let’s face it, 80% of popular entertainment is the art of repetitiveness.

Speaking of freaky conspiracies here’s the latest full broadcast of Gary Bell & the View From Space!

http://www.esnips.com//escentral/images/widgets/flash/esnips_player.swf
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