A Life Well Lived
When George Michaels, erstwhile singer and public facilities critic, passed away recently someone mentioned that they thought he was already dead. Obviously not. The Obit that was being read on the TV sounded familiar to them. My guess is that George must have done something a while ago to get a mention on the air, and to save having to actually do any real work, the newsreader (“reporter” in their own mind.) simply pulled George’s pre-written obituary and read from that – and then put it back in the file drawer to await George’s permanent shuffling off of his mortal coil.
All you have to do is pick a celebrity and get them to send you their Press Package. They’ll send it. They can’t pass up any chance for publicity.
Get the Package, correct the spelling and the grammar, add a few commas and delete the exclamation points –and presto! With a few generic celebrity obit words like “Genius,” “Well-Loved,” and “Legendary” to give it the expected gravitas and you are in business. It doesn’t have to be true or even make sense.
Anyone who bites it before the age of 100 is automatically crowned a “Genius.” They could have been the Assistant Choreographer for the campfire scene in “Blazing Saddles,” but once they die they get the “Genius” laurel bestowed upon them. If they die under a cloud the word “Misunderstood” gets typed into the obituary.
I have read that the TV networks and major newspapers have hirelings whose sole job is to try to stay ahead of the curb. They stay busy cranking out obituaries for anyone who can lay claim to those 15 seconds of fame. They don’t want to be left in the lurch if and when someone of note passes away.
The system isn’t flawless, however. In 1998 the Associated Press reported that Bob Hope had died. That tidbit was then announced on the floor of the United States Senate. Bob was quite surprised to learn of his passing. It did upset his dinner plans for that evening.
Why should Celebrities have all the fun? Why not let us ordinary folks have advance obituaries. It would certainly help to get us better written and more entertaining obituaries for the newspapers. I don’t know if they would be any more accurate, but they would, at the very least, be worth reading.
“Joe Smith has died. He made his living as a barber, but he was well-loved and respected in his fantasy life where, despite having only one leg, he was a virtuoso Flamenco Dancer.
“He leaves behind a bunch of admirers and four very confused children, who will, upon reading this, try to figure out where he has hidden his new will and the keys to the vault.
“Joe’s final words were, ‘Good luck and Ole′ mis amigos.”
“He was a legendary and well-loved genius who was often misunderstood – not known for his choreography skills.”