humorpop culture
Celebrity Endorsements: Some Dead Men Do Tell Tales
by Marjorie Dorfman

page 2

The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind, as Bob Dylan used to say. It lies in the offer. Dead celebrities don't argue, demand raises or give photographers a hard time. The fact that they don't even breathe is another matter entirely for CMG, the talent agency that granted the license to the French telemarketing company to use Lou Gehrig's image. This same company also featured in an earlier ad the "I Have A Dream" speech of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The defining moment in America's civil rights movement is, you guessed it, instant schlock! CMG must walk a very fine line between protecting the images of its late clientele and exploiting them. Public interest groups, such as Commercial Alert and its executive director, Gary Ruskin, feel that the use of these icons for commercial purposes is a travesty.

Is anything sacred and beyond the greedy grasp of commercialism? Greg Ponticello, writer for Comedyzine, theorizes that nothing and no one really is. He suggests that maybe even Jesus should be advertising for Cross Pens, promising a cross that is "easy to bear!" He makes an important point. Where is the line drawn between those who can be exploited and those who can't? Who isn't and can never be for sale? Albert Einstein can be seen advertising Apple computers and poor Ghandi has come from back from the dead to say a word or two about them as well. Come on now. Who's next? Mother Theresa endorsing chocolate chip cookies? Although it may be difficult to gauge the level of outrage a commercial will cause, some imagery must be sacrosanct and above commercial exploitation.

I suppose that the real truth in all of this lies in the fact that even in death we are all not equal. Who would pay any attention to just any old run-of-the-mill dead person swigging down a beer or selling computers or vacuum cleaners? It is a sad truth though because it's not bad enough that almost everything in our culture is already for sale, now everyone in it is as well! What does this say for the future of America? I'm not sure. I only know that rising from the dead isn't my thing (I don't like zombie movies and I have trouble just getting out of bed in the morning.) Dead celebrities turn me off, not because of what they were in life but for what the thirst for money in this world has made them. Someone please stop the flow of this commercial tide before it's too late and we all drown in the undertow. Let the dead and their memories rest in peace or pieces, whatever the case may be.

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