This isn’t really a new phenomenon. Back in ancient Egypt people used to pay mourners to follow the funeral procession. These death specialists would scream, faint, cry and rip their clothes as a way to demonstrate how much the deceased would be missed.
Somehow that “pay per tear” scenario seems somewhat more honest than what goes on today.
Over the weekend, talk show legend Johnny Carson passed away. While I wasn’t around for a good chunk of his heyday, I still recognize his contributions to American television. He is the originator of the talk show format. Also, he had a reputation for relying on showmanship to deal with technical difficulties and having the cleverness and generosity to make even the most boring guest absolutely captivating.
Many news and talk programs paid homage to this man by inviting celebrities to appear and give their thoughts on Mr. Carson.
I was appalled.
Some were sincere, perhaps sharing an anecdote about a positive experience on The Tonight Show. However, the rest took self-promotion to an all-new low. More often than not, a story about Mr. Carson quickly degraded into a self-serving commercial. Even worse, though, were the celebrities who tried to elicit endless sympathy by saying how lost they were by the sudden death of this dear friend. Oh yeah, where were you during his illness? Nice of you to hop on the funeral bandwagon.
I’m sad. He deserves better.