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Billy Mays was a successful sales man who pitched housecleaning products and had gained notoriety through teleshopping advertisements in America and even though he would be sorely missed as a popular salesmen whose voice became legendary in television shopping and will always be synonymous with the brand of Oxiclean and ‘direct response advertising ’.
LA times described his fame and fortune as “the king of direct response marketing. he and Anthony Sullivan were able to rack up one billion dollars in infomercials , he was an icon in the field of hard sell and was successfully hosting the show ‘pitchmen’”( Fausset, Los Angeles Times.). Associated press describes Mays “as an icon and his pall bearers wore blue shirts and khaki trousers to commemorate his death, it was a quiet affair at McKees Rocks, Pa.”
Though his death was sensationalized as having been caused due to the use of cocaine which created media outrage the story in actuality remains that he died in his sleep and his death was caused due to a cardiac arrest , While Lady Diana’s death was caused due to the rash driving by their driver’s drunk driving , while trying to escape the media.
Billy Mays death is an example of the commercialization of today’s world, where even the death of a celebrity is milked for all its worth by media moguls. There were re-runs and tributes paid to Billy Mays on various TV channels so that their ratings for advertisement space went up and their rival production companies couldn’t profit by airing current incidents and get a greater audience.
According to nydailynews.com, “Discovery channel paid a special tribute to Billy Mays by carrying out a Thursday night special on Billy Mays life and family “(nydailynews.com) and the social drama which was carried out was watched avidly by fans of Billy Mays while the production company raked in the moolah for the entertainment provided by the death of a celebrity.
Billy Mays death shocked his fans and various internet support sprang online, his death was in no ways as permanently etched in the hearts and minds of people as that of Princess Diana. Though his loss will be felt by family and friends, salespeople and infomercial audiences all over the world. His popularity can in no way be compared to the following of Princess Diana’s death. Mays funeral was a modest affair when compared with the funeral arrangements of Princess Diana and can only be marked by the stickers that were distributed by Sullivan during his funeral that commercialized the incident and the reruns of ‘Pitchmen ’ on discovery channel.
Diana’s death proved that even the web and social sites like Facebook play a major role in sharing information about news and in providing a universal support for the incident. Especially in the case of Diana there were millions of virtual candles that were lit for her by surfers on the internet as an act of identification and support with fellow mourners (Taylor, 250 ). Even the news of the passing of Billy Mays was shared all over the internet and various support systems and blogs were created in his memory.
Several websites came up like the Project Inflora that suggested that a royal conspiracy caused the death of Diana and also said that the “Di thing was a way of assuring the continuance of the monarchy the floral tributes are an example of flower power ” Deaths like Diana’s have universal appeal, her name became synonymous with humanitarian causes. Her audience were inspired by the global appeal as she stood for causes ranging from “AIDs, to eating dis-orders, unhappy marriages, to the working of the media neo colonialism and globalization”(Taylor,232).
Diana’s persona was larger than her real life and inspired millions all over the world, thus a global audience was inspired by the princess and was she was often called the ‘Queen of People’s Hearts ’.Diana described her own childhood in Parral as one of shyness and overcoming chubbiness for Diana Taylor, Princess Diana was the mythical virginal princess for her ,who was beautiful, blonde and tall and had married her Prince Charming in royal pomp and ceremony .She was idolized by people all over the world and yes it was a false identification because the Real Diana was fallible and was prone to her human drawbacks (Taylor , 230)
The media created the glorified image of princess Diana, she was the media ‘s darling and they followed her every action and romance after her separation from Prince Charles as Taylor describes “ The Diana we knew was a stylized product the product of stylized acts – royal protocol ,fairy tales, designer styles and Hollywood . A real princess, a royal model and a model for royalty”(Taylor, 243)
It is fate that Diana died in a car accident , when she was just about to begin her new life with Dodi trying to escape the media that had created her and it was the same media that mourned her death and castigated it members for causing the accident. Turners model is a good example of how celebrity social dramas are captured by the media .Victor Turner’s model (23-59) of social drama “located four main phases of public action in social drama and these were breach, crises, redressal action and reintegration or schism”( Tim Ingold, 626). According to Gold, Breach takes place when individual actions differ from community norms and escalate into crises when the incident or action can no longer be ignored and requires immediate action.
Redressive action , are the steps taken to resolve the conflict which either results in a mitigation of the conflict or a schism where the individual or group causing the conflict form their own community.(Tim Ingold, 626).Diana’s life had been reduced to nothing more than a social drama which the populace tuned into to catch the latest episode “about the cruel mother-in-law and the insensitive husband . this private drama which was so publicly enacted had transfixed both protagonists and spectators alike”(Taylor, 233).
The Redressive action took place when the royals along with the common people were present as “the funeral which was weighed down in splendor out did all the royal funeral that happened before her “(Taylor, 235)Death of celebrities like Diana, Evita and Selena have played a crucial role throughout history in conforming with existing cultural norms and as Elisabeth Bronfen argues “over her dead body cultural norms and are reconfigured and secured because the death of an innocent and virtuous woman serves as an inspiration and a dangerous serves to reestablish an order that was momentarily suspended by her death”(Taylor, 240)
Diana’s death has proved that even after a celebrity is deceased, millions can still be raised for the charity and issues that they used to support. Taylor states that “one caption of a London newsstand states that one might imagine that the death of Diana never took place as the press is keeping her alive and the cover of Peoples magazine says that in death and in life she has raised millions for charity ”(Taylor, 142)
According to Taylor some deaths like Evita’s had a major impact on the people of Argentina who enshrined her tomb and it is said that her ghost still haunts the people and any female who has political aspirations has to dress like evita but her popularity did not exceed the borders of Argentina , in America she is still considered to be a “fascist and an oddity”(Taylor , 247).
The death of Princess Diana touched the hearts of millions all over the world, people from different cultures wept for her and idolized Diana even after death. She became an international icon because “Diana’s death precipitated a series of transformations and resolution in multiple levels. She was buried a mother and a model of humanitarianism”( Taylor , 244-245).
She was a part of the British royal family and the social drama between the royal families kept Diana in the news. Her death made people realize their power the Royal family when they insisted that her funeral be conducted with pomp and splendor as is customary for any Royal family member. The media sympathized with Diana and her death gave a new image to England one of a gentler kinder approach where “a changed England performed its emotions and showed a humanitarian side of the country” (Taylor, 246).
Diana lived every women’s dream in countries all over the world when she was the fairy tale princess who wed Prince Charles; they sympathized when she became fallible and gave into Bulimia and her transgressions made her only more human and endearing to the global audience and that is why Diana’s death had global implications while Evita’s death did not.
Derrida calls hauntology the flip side of performances’ ontology and says that “Performances are only for the present and cannot be saved, recorded, documented or otherwise represented. However hauntology differs in the sense that “the ghost is a repetition also known as Derrida’s revenant. Hauntology signifies post performance and the pomp and splendor of the funeral makes the death sacred which is theoretically different to the fundamental principles of performance. There are various citings of the deceased all over the world and the shrine housing the deceased’s remains becomes proof that reconfirms the performance of resuscitation (Taylor , 237).
Celebrity death these days are nothing more than commercial events that the media uses to attract universal appeal and to increase their ratings the world over. The humanity of these events has gone and has become media circuses with no privacy and dignity lend to the mourners. Though we will all mourn the passing of icons like Mother Teresa , the death of Lady Diana and Billy Mays fades in to the audiences memory as the next sensational news enthralls a global audience who avidly watch the social drama enfold on television.
What is worry-some is that few celebrities are able to match the the appeal of evita and selena in local minds , the idolization of martyrs like Martin Luther King Jr or the charismatic appeal of stars like Marilyn Monroe, as Diana Taylor herself claims that her daughter and she are already forgetting the murals that marked the passing of Lady Diana and she no longer feels the loss or pity for the children of Lady Diana, as new incidents take place Diana will also be truly forgotten by the public that once worshipped her.