Coming up next on the Celebrity Funeral Channel
My friend Jeff probably gets tired of all my million-dollar ideas, because every time I’ve gotten one over the past 30 years, I’ve called him up to ramble on about them. They were all so brilliant that I can’t remember any of them right now, except that a few of them did go on to make millions upon millions of dollars for somebody, but not me. But I do remember the million-dollar idea I just got recently, and it’s such a natural and a no-brainer that, what the hey, why don’t I just tell you about it?
The Celebrity Funeral Channel. It’s got celebrities, it’s got death, it’s got dead celebrities, plus it’s got tons of other possibilities. Like the various styles of mourning, the history of undertaking, the tension of aerodynamic styling versus classic design in hearses, caskets and other accoutrements of death. It’s got Elvis, Eva Peron, Princesses Grace and Diana, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith and a host of others, and by the time the channel is up and running, it’ll most likely have Lindsay Lohan, too. And, if we’re lucky, a few other overly entitled celebrities.
Think of the sponsorship possibilities: Not only would you get Service Corporation International, aka Dignity Memorial, and Forest Lawn and the Batesville Casket Company, but you’d get various cosmetics manufacturers that specialize in post-viable makeup, you’d probably get a few ads from the Mormons, plus life insurance plans and more. That’s just for starters. And too bad Buick has refocused its trajectory post-General Motors bankruptcy, because back when that marque’s median customer age was 78 and its cars looked like Batesville products, you’d get some of those ads, too. Plus lots of others. I mean, wouldn’t you advertise on a channel like this? I know I would.
And think of the program possibilities. Start with long “Behind the End of the Music”-style VH1 segments, little documentaries about funerals woven together from footage with narration, and then add in interviews with embalmers to the stars, the person who did the facial restoration work on the disfigured accident victim or the star whose mug was rendered unrecognizable from the ravages of drugs or disease. The, you’d have a new class of critics and opinionists — let’s just call them armchair thanatologists — who would be champing at the bit to spout their opinions on death, style, celebrity and overarching cultural decay. Not to mention some choice celebrity commentators: Imagine John Waters discussing celebrity funerals in terms of bad taste publicly flaunted, or various Kardashian family members interviewed for no real reason at all?
And let us not forget that the first three letters of funeral happen to be f-u-n, which are also the first three letters of the word funny, and there are potentials for unintentional comedy all over the place here, like various celebrity mourners deadpanning on how the dear departed was like Mozart, da Vinci, Shakespeare, Einstein and Jean d’Arc, all rolled into one person, even if their claim to fame was that they parlayed childhood sitcom success into a lifetime of horribly embarrassing drug- and alcohol-fueled car and party crashes.
I think that all of us have a bit of the armchair thanatologist in us, don’t we? We all die, eventually, so I’m guessing that particular character facet is hardwired into us. Plus, most everybody loves the trainwreck voyeurism of a good public funeral display, especially if there are famous people involved. And look at the popular narrative arcs of those interminable VH1 Behind the Music specials, where the redemption angle is tossed in at the end, but what really rivets viewers’ attentions is the downfall, the hitting bottom.
Schadenfreude is a marketable commodity. So is grieving. And everybody dies, even famous people. Don’t you think we should make some money here? So call me already, and let’s talk. —Jackson Griffith