I once wrote questions for a gameshow round called ‘Dead or Alive?’.
The catchphrase was “Is he dead?”, and it was great fun.
You can play now. Are these people Dead or Alive?
Kirk Douglas, hero of Spartacus
Clive Dunn, sayer of “Don’t panic Mr. Mainwaring!” in Dad’s Army
Oscar Niemayer, Brazilian architect
Billy Graham, evangelical preacher
Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress and sexy lady
Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull
… Answers at the bottom of the page.
I was quite shocked to discover that some people I had thought were dead were still alive and (at least metaphorically) kicking. Mikhael Gorbachev played this trick on me the other day.
When someone old and famous doesn’t appear in the media for a long time, I presume they must be dead.
That means that they only exist in the media (media = traditional press + general public’s tweets, blog posts, etc). Their very existence is media-ted (haha!) by and through the media.
So when the media ignores a celebrity, the celebrity suffers ‘Media Death’.
It would be interesting to track the onset of Media Death. Perhaps, using web and social media data, it might be possible to diagnose it. If the celebrity has a savvy publicist, perhaps they could delay its effects. Or at least offer some palliative care in the form of some local newspaper articles.
For some ageing celebrities, though, Media Death must be a welcome respite. Maybe there will soon be a market for a kind of anti-publicist, who can administer a euthanasic coup de grace to celebrities wishing to retire from their media lives.
Thanks to The Death List for most of the tips, both now and back in 2008 when we made the show.