When I die – May 21st, 2008 – don’t put it on Facebook. Browsing the ‘RIP’ groups as I do, I came across one for a young man; let’s call him Stan. Stan got himself killed in a motorbike crash, so someone started the Facebook group. This in itself could’ve hung by a bloodied finger to the cliff-edge of tact. Except the group’s creators had forgotten to turn off the ‘Related Groups’ feature. And one of them was ‘Bring Back Mr Blobby’.
I’m guessing this was a mistake. That is, unless one of the members had actually made a connection between Stan’s last moments, the jarring mortal scream as he was crushed beneath Eddie Stobart, and Mr Blobby. Y’know, the pink one.
Stan probably didn’t want himself linked to Mr Blobby, and probably wouldn’t choose a Facebook memorial. But they did it anyway. And to the modern idiot, it doesn’t end there – it’s just one example of their cack-minded impulse to make every death their business, if they’ve so much as glanced at the deceased’s heels through a bent mirror in a dream. If it’s a dismal time to be alive, it’s a magnitude worse for the dead guys: the world appropriates their passing, and coats it in their pre-packaged, self-serving platitudes.
Take an everyday cadaver, fly it to Amsterdam, slap on a thong and prop it up by a red light, and you’ll have a useful metaphor for how we’re all prostituting the memory of these people. You’ll also have a steady but morally ambiguous source of income, but by that time, you’ve made your point. So it’s okay.
The most famous dead hero was Diana, with fountains of faked tears for the ex-wife of the son of the woman who lives on banknotes. Now, it happens every other week. Beadle, Ledger – as somebody told me, ‘everyone’s dying these days.’ When you’re lifeless, you’re perfect, and suddenly, everyone cares: as we speak, Charlton Heston’s doing the chatshow circuit stood rigid in a coffin, his wife hoping to rush him to Letterman before his face congeals. Heath Ledger’s corpse is pencilled in for Brokeback’s doubly-controversial sequel, themes of necrophilia guaranteeing at least five Oscars. Hillary Clinton’s still up for the Presidency, and she’s been dead since 1993. It explains a lot.
When I die, I’d love for everyone to just act as they feel. If that’s just a shrug, fine. In reality, there’ll be a flag at half-mast, because it’s the done thing. I’ll get a page in a student paper, because that’s obligatory. But if you want to dance on my grave, why not do that? I give you permission. Take this column with you; not everyone will understand.