One of my more morbid hobbies is charting when certain people of notable celebrity “should” have died. I realize this might be a taboo subject, but I really feel that some people would have been better off dying a hero.
Two people I keep coming back to are Elvis Presley and Micheal Jackson. I submit that if Micheal Jackson had died before the 1993 scandal, no one would dare to make fun of him today. If Elvis Presley had been killed in action during WWII (which ironically marks the beginning of his methamphetamine addiction), he would have been canonized by the pope. And I do have proof of this theory. I know people personally and casually who think Kurt Cobain is a living god. I can’t help but wonder what these people would have thought if Kurt had gone on to live an embarrassingly degrading life.
Now, there could be the fact that dying a tragic death has the effect of making people remember the good things about you. John F. Kennedy, throughout his presidential career was a lackluster president. He handled the Cuban Missile Crisis well, but that seems to be the highlight of his reign. However, his assassination tends to color people’s opinion in his favor. It’s hard to make fun of or even criticize someone who was ruthlessly gunned down. Despite all the controversy that surrounded his life, there was a tremendous outpouring of sympathy for Micheal Jackson’s death. Still, for someone whose life is about entertainment, it seems like it’s better to flare out in a supernova than to burn dim.
I see where you are going with this theory and can also relate it to those that die of cancer, and how some people in stage 4 refuse treatment so they are remembered fondly instead of sick. “Die young live forever” as it is said. However most people who are remembered so are usually remembered by people who hardly knew them, so what is the point in that? Does it really matter to the individual that died, that their pride live on in someone who doesn’t know how they “tick”.
I will take my death however it comes, tragic and sudden or old and “seen it coming”. I don’t care who remembered me as long as I lived. (Well I hope my son remembered me but that’s about all)
Neil Young said it, and Cobain quoted in his suicide note: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”
But I’d have to say, what happens after you die is of no concern to you, you’re dead. Legacies are very much a concern of the living, you’re not going to be sitting in a box in the ground, or an urn on the mantle, thinking ‘at least everyone will remember me fondly.’ Or at least I hope not, can’t say for sure, as I’ve never died… but damn would that be a shitty way to live out eternity
But you are usually in control of your life……what if Presley had lived through WW2, had his music career, got hooked on meth, but instead of dying beat the addiction instead? What if Kennedy had gone on to do great things with his life after his presidency was over? What if Michael Jackson had the same life as a musician, but simply chose not to do whatever he did in ’93 (I really don’t know the details of it)? As for Cobain, after reading his journal I don’t think he would have allowed himself to live a degrading life, he would have found some way to hold true to his ideals (his plan was, after all, to infiltrate from within. Spread his ideas by JOINING a major label and subvert them slowly over time, ironically using them for their own demise.) In the end, his own depression and negativity were too much for him, but what if, with the gun in his hand at the last minute, something changed his mind and he tossed it away? I feel his death was simply the result of his choice to pull the trigger (vastly influenced, of course, by his depression, physical pain, and drug addiction). I don’t think people have “times”, rather, choices on what to do with their lives (to a certain extent).
BTW Cobain’s journal is a pretty good read, if anyone is interested. It shows quite the opposite of what many of his fans think, that he was not a god, but very much a man. He simply worked very hard at his artwork. His notes are full of chord patterns and lists of bands and songs he listened to, often very diverse, and at some point mentioned how in high school he practiced guitar 5 hours a day. The book actually did quite a bit for me to understand that creativity is not something you have to be born with, but to work for, intelligently.
Fools start to think only when people around them die.
You make a very good point, but I think there’s a lot more to it. Death, in general, makes people point out the positives in the deceased. The interesting thing is that even when Hitler died, his eulogy was about his “positive” aspects, like him being a “visionary” and an “artist.” It just happens to be a fact that people who die at their peak have even better things to be said about them. I believe The Dark Knight said it best, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” But even villains get positive funerals.
@epath, My mistake, he didn’t serve in any war. But he was a Sergeant in the third Armor Division in Germany. That was still the place that got him addicted and marks the downturn of his career.
Also, Knut Hamsum was the one who wrote Hitler’s Obituary and eulogy:
I’m not worthy to speak up for Adolf Hitler, and to any sentimental rousing his life and deeds do not invite.
Hitler was a warrior, a warrior for humankind and a preacher of the gospel of justice for all nations. He was a reforming character of the highest order, and his historical fate was that he functioned in a time of exampleless [unequalled] brutality, which in the end felled him.
Thus may the ordinary Western European look at Adolf Hitler. And we, his close followers, bow our heads at his death.
Someone will cry even at the devil’s funereal.