Every year it seems like the list of famous people who pass away grow in numbers and get more influential.
*Ahem* let that opening sentence be an official feels warning for anyone reading.
However, this isn’t a piece about how terrible it is to lose a celebrity that you cared about and looked up to. Neither is it about getting into making sad songs or movies.
It’s about what happens around the world when a celebrity dies and the opportunists take advantage of that moment.
Personally, I first noticed this only about a month ago when a musician who’s music I enjoyed and grew up listening to passed away. Malcolm McCormick or better known as Mac Miller was an American rapper, singer and record producer and on September 7th 2018, he tragically died.
I’m not going to lie to you, I remember when and where I was when I first found out. I was in my bedroom and had just woken up from quite a nice sleep, like everyone does these days when they wake up, the first thing I did was look at my phone and saw that friends had sent me the message.
I remember running to my laptop to find out as much information as I could. After reading some of the news, I instantly turned on his latest album to reach maximum feels mode.
I didn’t cry though. I just had some stuff in my eyes, which made my eyes red and a liquid like substance come out…
Anyway! a couple of days passed and the tributes at this stage were flowing in, it was around this time I started to notice ads of Mac Miller memorial T-shirts popping up in the sidebars of random sites where things you have recently searched on the Internet appear. You know, just another one of those creepy things the Internet does.
Except it wasn’t only T-shirts, there were posters, Mac Miller sunnies, and an abundance of YouTube videos uploaded. But what tip the scales for me the most was a local nightclub in Brisbane, only days after Mac passing away, decided to host a Mac Miller appreciation night – meaning they only play his music all night.
Whilst in the midst of millions of Miller’s fans grieving still, the event garners huge attention on Facebook with almost 3000 people clicked either going or interested.
I mean I get it, maybe they could of actually just been paying their respects (and maybe they actually were) but without any fundraising schemes or attention brought to Millers family, considering the circumstances around his death, it seemed quite out of touch and honestly just like another one of those intrusive T-shirt ads – especially when the club would have been directly profiting from probably a large night over the bar sales.
However at this stage, I realised that on this occasion, the commoditization on Miller’s death was just apart of a larger global trend that ‘business minded’ people cash in on.
In an article published by the Telegraph in the UK, shows that US revenue generated by dead celebrities is today estimated at an annual $2.25 billion.
In a Forbes magazine annual rich-list of top earning dead celebrities (which is literally drop dead lucrative). At the top of the list is Michael Jackson at a whopping $275 million, followed by Elvis Presley with $60 million and in third is Albert Einstein with $10 million.
Thus begs the question, are some people/brands worth more when they are dead?
According to that Telegraph article, the answer is yes.
More then anything, is it possible to not exploit a dead celebrities image whilst also respecting their memory? I doubt it.
Next time you see an Elvis T-shirt, a Robin Williams poster or an event ‘appreciating’ someone, ask yourself, who’s really benefiting from this. Do your research and be conscious to the idea that some people might just be cashing in on an opportunity.