The Effect of the Internet on Death

I just saw something on Facebook that I am of two minds about. On the one hand, I thought it was offensive. On the other hand, it’s possibly genius marketing. Put those two together, and I’m pretty sure you’ve got the future.
It was a sponsored ad (Why can’t they just say ad? It’s sponsored in the same way all ads are sponsored, by somebody paying for it.) for a Charlie Watts t-shirt. It had his picture, and a big number 80, which I suppose is because he was 80 when he died, like, yesterday, and his dates of birth and death, and some platitude at the bottom.
Well, in the comments section below, I was with the majority who were saying it was tacky, it was taking advantage of grief to make a buck, it was too soon, it was tasteless, etc…
But, then I considered it from a business model point of view. It’s on-line orders, so it’s print on demand, so they basically can’t lose money. However many they sell, they are going to make a profit. So what if people criticize them for being ghouls? And, plenty of people, genuine fans, probably shelled out as soon as they saw the ad, because it looks like a cool t-shirt, and it’s an homage to a great musician.
It may seem sleazy and morbid now, but if it works at all (and, as I said, I expect it will) you’re going to start seeing stuff like this every time a rock star, or a movie star, or any popular figure dies. There may well be a t-shirt when the Queen dies, which will be purchased by royalists and anti-royalists alike.
It reminded me of an episode of Deep Space Nine I watched recently, in which Quark thinks he’s dying of some rare Ferengi disease, and so he auctions off dried portions of his dead corpse, as is the Ferengi custom, and they can be purchased by relatives, friends, admirers or, as turned out to be the case in this episode, somebody who really, really wanted to be sure he was dead.
I still think it’s tasteless, but it’s kind of inevitable.

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