Monday 31 May 2010


Do you ever notice when a celebrity dies – one who has clearly lost his place on the celebrity food chain - suddenly all other celebrities come out of the woodwork and start waxing poetic about the life and talent of the person: ‘he was like a brother to me,’ ‘the pain is over my friend, find peace in heaven,’ ‘your talent was an inspiration to all,’ blab la bla…And the ironic part is, often these deceased celebrities have fallen so out of fashion that in life they were shunned like an untouchable. But in death, oh his work, his memory, his unparalleled talent, suddenly it is up there with Scorsese.

Let’s take Gary Coleman for example, for you that were not glued to your TV’s in the late 70’s, he was on a show called “Different Strokes.” He was small, adorable, and had pretty wicked comic timing. [And of course then there was that infamous line that would haunt the poor b*stard for the rest of his days]. The problem was, once the show was over, he had difficulty moving into other roles. Or shall we call it as it really was, in Hollywood, if they don’t know what to do with you, you’re not going anywhere. I can hear the agents now….“Gary? He’s too small, no one will ever buy he can do normal things like fall in love, solve crime, scale tall buildings!”

So overnight, Gary was lucky if he got a holiday on the Love Boat – clearly Fantasy Island had no room for another short fellow with a big personality. Sadly for Gary, he soon fell into the child star abyss that has claimed many. He ended up suing his parents for stealing all his money, had a host of medical problems, not to mention a few assault cases that popped up along the way. It got so bad that he went to work as a security guard working for the studios – an honorable job of course, at least he was working – but it gave those in the community even more reason to put at least a mile between he and them – ‘careful he might be contagious!!’

With a CV later in life that boasted such denigrating shows like Divorce Court (he was apparently trying to work through his marital issues with his wife) and the stellar film, ‘Midgets and Mascots,’ you could say his career suicide was pretty much cemented. But then a funny thing happened, upon his death he was suddenly deemed a lost talent, whom everyone wished and hoped eternal peace. Well, I’ll tell you what would’ve brought him some peace along the way – a flippin’ J-O-B in the industry in which he thought he had made such headway! It’s not like the man was an extra all those years; he was the star of a hit show, he had his own catchphrase for godsakes! And I can confidently bet the house (I rent, so I’m that confident) that when he was alive, if he had approached half these well-wisher celebs in a restaurant, they would’ve turned and run like the wind!

I think the biggest example of this type of posthumous kiss ass was after the death of Michael Jackson. Okay, so he was the self proclaimed ‘King of Pop.’ And the man had an insane catalogue of songs to his credit; I don’t think at this point I have to go through all his accomplishments. But let’s be real here, he also had become a pariah, a circus sideshow; and as he aged – and whitened – people were merciless in not only their fascination with his life, but with his demise: his spending, his surgeries, and of course his legal troubles. It got so bad that people weren’t even sure whether or not to publicly call themselves his fans – I will be fair and say he was never convicted of anything, but seriously, some of his behavior was flat out suspect. But I shall respect the dead and keep shtuum (for once).

The ironic, and of course amusing part of it all, was once he was pronounced dead, it was as if Jesus himself was lying on the table at Cedars Sinai Hospital. Suddenly he was not only the King of Pop, he was King of the freaking world. And the love, oh the love couldn’t you just feel it?! Everyone was a fan, everyone had the utmost admiration and respect for him, and everyone went out in droves and bought his records. Suddenly the pariah was missed and heralded by those that curiously didn’t have much time for him when he was alive (not that there was much room for them in between Bubbles, his posse of 12 year olds, and all those hideous marble statues he insisted on buying).

I suppose this isn’t much different than it’s always been. There have been a plethora of authors and artists who have not found favor till well after their death. I’m sure Van Gogh would’ve liked some love while he was alive to pay his medical bills – what must it cost to treat that ear?? But it’s the fall from grace and the return to grace post death I find so fascinating. (And poor Van Gogh didn’t even get the love while he was alive. At least MJ could afford a few years of riding carousels at Neverland – seriously, can you say Peter Pan syndrome?!). I suppose it is true, for some, with death comes absolution and adoration – call it a post death Alzheimer’s. Thinking about it, I better get to sinning!

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