behavior in obitfilter April 26, 2002 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Lots and lots of people have died, even musicians and oceanographers. It's been happening for a long time, and for many different reasons. People have different ways of dealing with/commemorating a death, if they care at all. Sometimes they throw a party. So don't get all pissed when I'm in the back row, giggling at the all-too-public funeral
posted by Su to Etiquette/Policy at 3:31 PM (31 comments total)

FYI: On the off chance you may have seen the original post on the front page, this is here in MeTa now at Matt's suggestion.
posted by Su at 3:33 PM on April 26, 2002

It comes to us all. Best to laugh when it does.
posted by Spoon at 3:52 PM on April 26, 2002

Sage. (And parsley, thyme, rosemary. Five bucks on Art Garfunkle kicking it in a falling-piano accident in the next two weeks.)

And "poor depth perception"! Beautiful.

And then, I'm thinking of the most recent Greg The Bunny.
posted by cortex at 3:59 PM on April 26, 2002

i don't see the point in posting it really. i mean the first thing i heard on the radio today was that she was dead, i don't need metafilter to tell me. i like posting news that is discussable, but this death isn't so much. in a perfect world it would just not get many comments, because some of the comments were actual discussion (about how she died etc,) but there are people that, when given the opportunity to be mean seem to be incapable of resisting.

i think it stems, again, from a lack of tolerance and understanding. people see someone who is black, sings a type if music they don't know/like, and has a funny name like t-boz and think any serious emotion about her death cannot exist, because they see her as a caricature.

but the reason for disparity in outpouring of emotion in the case of George Harrison vs. Lisa Lopes seems really frigging obvious.

i think this shows a lack of acceptance in the differences between people, and not just race but age. i know george harrison was a beatle, but until this thread i could not have told you if he was alive or dead, and i cannot tell you his role in the band. i do like tlc though, and grew up with them, and while i don't consider myself a huge fan i am certainly a little saddened to see her go. just because someone is different, or appeals to a different group doesn't mean disparaging the dead based on the few songs the radio has played for you is acceptable.
posted by rhyax at 4:15 PM on April 26, 2002

i don't see the point in posting it really. i mean the first thing i heard on the radio today was that she was dead, i don't need metafilter to tell me. i like posting news that is discussable, but this death isn't so much.

Same could be said for any of the celeb obits that we've had lately (dudley moore, g harrison, left eye, layne staley, etc.), but I find it pretty interesting to see what people's memories of these people are, not so much a posthumous roasting of them. Not that I'd like MeFi to be ObitFilter (seems like a lot of people have been dying lately!), though. I do like posts like this that are the exception to the uber-celebrity obits. I hadn't heard about this anywhere else.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:41 PM on April 26, 2002

outside of anything remotely geek-related, there's NO need for obits on mefi.

teh end.
posted by jcterminal at 5:48 PM on April 26, 2002

Robert Hughes describing Edward Kienholz's final work:
"His corpulent body was wedged into the front seat of a brown 1940 Packard coupe. There was a dollar and a deck of cards in his pocket, a bottle of 1931 Chianti beside him and the ashes of his dog Smash in the back. He was set for the afterlife. To the whine of bagpipes, the Packard, steered by his widow Nancy Reddin Kienholz, rolled like a funeral barge into the big hole."

posted by G_Ask at 8:29 PM on April 26, 2002

i like posting news that is discussable, but this death isn't so much

I've always thought that death provided a golden opportunity to talk about life. If life isn't "discussable", then I don't know what is.
posted by dchase at 8:35 PM on April 26, 2002

Well, dchase, the problem is that she merely wrecked her car.
If only she'd been suicide bombed somewhere in the west bank, I think we'd have then hit MetaFilter pay dirt.
posted by dong_resin at 11:34 PM on April 26, 2002

Well, I suppose I was one of those bastards that didn't find mocking the dead amusing. My bad. I suppose my theory is, Mock them while they're living, because once they're dead, they can no longer defend themselves.

I'm not sure what's to gain by laughing at the dead. Honestly, I think it's just a prick thing to do. You didn't like them. Good deal. I don't care. I really don't. But don't piss on their gravestone. Some people actually enjoyed their accomplishments.

You want to giggle? Cool. You want to laugh out loud, whatever...Just keep it to yourself and the friends who want to hear you. Funerals aren't for taking one last shot.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:16 AM on April 27, 2002

This isn't Metafuneral, and laughing at a TLC member while she's alive but stopping when she's dead would be pointless and dishonest. She now has as many fans as she had when she was alive -- probably she has many more, given the popularity surges enjoyed by the estates of deceased song-and-dance acts -- and those fans could all jump in and defend her. To complain that she can no longer defend herself is to imply that she might have monitored (and defended herself in) an anti-TLC Metafilter thread had she been alive, something you must admit is unlikely to have been true.

The only reason to tiptoe around news of a celebrity death such as Ms Lopes's would be to be nice to the fans (largely children, I would guess) who might be reading the thread. It is admittedly a little mean to joke in public when a rich music industrialist flips an SUV, knocks the rap out of herself, and scatters a half dozen hangers on. But there are meaner things on Metafilter. If you want all nice, all the time, you have to look elsewhere. (If you want more mean, wait until Ronnie kicks.)
posted by pracowity at 5:26 AM on April 27, 2002

BlueTrain: Mourning is a private thing. In no culture that I am aware of(disclaimer: not an anthropologist) are funerals a general-admission event where anybody can wander in.
My point is that if you take something like this and make it public and relatively anonymous, you're going to open yourself up to everybody's individual ways of dealing, and yeah, a few others who just want to make a cheap joke.
I also believe in ultimate responsibility. Left Eye accepted the risk of plowing into a tree when she got behind and wheel, and she lost the bet. I also hold Allaboutgeorge responsible for the comments in the thread. Not only is it easily arguable that when you take something like this public, you open yourself up to attack—c'mon, it was the death of a fraction of a no-longer-even-minor pop act—but there is long-standing precedent here for snarky comments being made in obit threads, and it's not a huge leap of logic to say that the more minor the person, the more vicious those comments get.

As for death being a chance to talk about life: Uh...why not just talk about life in the first place? Why is it that people only tend to appreciate things in retrospect? Really. Her death was mentioned several times on CNN News yesterday, and they yammered about how she and TLC were big on promoting social topics like contraception(that thing over her eye was a condom) and healthy talk about sex. Wouldn't it be nice if there were an easy way to determine how many times they've mentioned her since Crazysexycool, if ever? Meanness is at least honest. I don't abide backhanded compliments.
posted by Su at 5:51 AM on April 27, 2002

you don't think people laugh and make jokes at a funeral, even at the expense of the deceased?

Next time someone in my family kicks it, I'll be sure you get an invite.
posted by Mick at 6:43 AM on April 27, 2002

On the first link to this thread, there's a Notify Me page that made me laugh:

"Are you far from your hometown? Would you like to know when someone dear to you dies? Are you a genealogist following a particular family?

The National Obituary Archive will notify you by e-mail when we receive an obituary of someone who matches the identifying criteria you give us. Sign up for this free service by completing the simple registration form and setting any of the available criteria, such as hometown, surname, schools attended or organization memberships.

Whenever we publish an obituary that appears to match your criteria, we will send you an e-mail with a link to that obituary in our archive. "

This must be very handy for people into those death pools. "Yes! Bob Hope is finally dead!" Or maybe you want to know when the school bully finally dies? Register for him here.

And as for finding out when someone "dear to me" dies? "Holy shit, Uncle Fred is dead! Dear old Uncle Freddie. I was so close to him. Thank god for that automatic e-mail from a database of obituaries, or I might never have known.

posted by pracowity at 6:45 AM on April 27, 2002

teh end.

JeffK died?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:23 AM on April 27, 2002

"Well, dchase, the problem is that she merely wrecked her car.' do you really believe that dong?
posted by clavdivs at 8:22 AM on April 27, 2002

"Funerals aren't for taking one last shot."

you kidding me? that's what funerals are FOR.

p.s. there's nothing wrong with laughing at the dead. if they get offended, i'll stop. but they'll have to tell me.

stavros gets it. two points!
posted by jcterminal at 9:03 AM on April 27, 2002

(largely children, I would guess)

their first album came out in 1991, that's a while ago.
posted by rhyax at 9:23 AM on April 27, 2002

you don't think people laugh and make jokes at a funeral, even at the expense of the deceased?

One of my fondest memories of my uncle's nightmarish open casket visitation was gathering in the back with several family members and talking about how we'd like our corpse to be publicly presented.

The most popular idea was to use animatronics so we could play our own music at the event a la Chuckie Cheese. I'm a firm believer in the principle of gallows humor. I hate the idea that we should be so solemn in the face of death that we treat the passing of minor celebrities with quiet reverence.

Besides, if laughing at the "depth perception" gag is wrong, I don't want to be right.

posted by rcade at 10:46 AM on April 27, 2002

i didn't really mind the depth perception type comments, the ones that bothered me were the [this person isn't important, so it's ok to make fun of her, had she been important we wouldn't] type because it implies that the writer speaks for everyone.
posted by rhyax at 11:17 AM on April 27, 2002

clavdivs~ "Well, dchase, the problem is that she merely wrecked her car.'
do you really believe that dong?

Mighty clavdivs, I thought you knew me better than that, my dead gay eastern Roman emperor friend.
posted by dong_resin at 11:48 AM on April 27, 2002

"my dead gay eastern Roman emperor friend."-HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU, I AM NOT EASTERN.

posted by clavdivs at 4:13 PM on April 27, 2002

I ran the whole sha-bang-from the Praetors office.
(note to self- ban all copper cones)
posted by clavdivs at 4:16 PM on April 27, 2002

My bad. Not a history buff.
posted by dong_resin at 4:22 PM on April 27, 2002

there no history to it sir, it's comedy.
posted by clavdivs at 6:48 PM on April 27, 2002

Ah. I get you.
*smacks forehead, and nods approvingly at loud hollow thud*
posted by dong_resin at 7:07 PM on April 27, 2002

Why was it more appropriate to post this on Metalk as oppossed to making it an FPP? Just curious.
posted by xammerboy at 9:08 PM on April 27, 2002

Su: I'm not responsible for people's posts other than my own. You can "hold me" all you like. :-)
posted by allaboutgeorge at 3:03 AM on April 28, 2002

"Why was it more appropriate to post this on Metalk as oppossed to making it an FPP? Just curious."

because the post is about something happening on metafilter, not something happening everywhere else.

p.s. saying 'fpp' makes baby jesus cry. just say no.
posted by jcterminal at 11:38 AM on April 28, 2002

Xammerboy: Matt deleted the original post I made, and sent me an e-mail saying that he thought it would just cause and even encourrage more arguing if it appeared on the main page. He then said he would be okay with it in MeTa, so here it is. Any further explanation, if necessary, will have to come from him. It's a post I've wanted to make for a while. It was either this, or to post an obit for some random insignificant person every once in a while, to try and prove a point that frankly would probably fly over lots of heads and just be generally annoying.

George: You're not responsible for them per se. That would be moderation, which doesn't exist here. But you did create the thread. This isn't a statement of accountability or judgement. It has been discussed before that it isn't too hard to predict how some threads are going to turn out, before they even get their first five comments. Obits are one of the more obvious. You chose to go ahead and post. Fine.
And then the thread went exactly where I expected it to.

The number of obit threads that have actually remained serious and memorial-like(which I really do believe is the intent of the people making them) has been very small. All I'm saying is that given the precedent that has been established by the users here, anybody posting one of these threads is implicitly accepting snarks, as is anyone reading the thread. In a generalized sense, this is really the case for ANY post, and it seems to be understood for most of them, but once we get into touchy things like somebody croaking*, some people suddenly decide to get all reverent, when it's quite possible they recently posted a haiku in a thread about some grossly obese person being craned out of their house.

*for example, a "celebrity" who performed cheezy disposable pop music while wearing a condom as an eyepatch, and was alternately known for torching her boyfriend's house
posted by Su at 1:55 PM on April 28, 2002

"...the ones that bothered me were the [this person isn't important, so it's ok to make fun of her, had she been important we wouldn't]..."

I agree, that disturbs me as well. It's just as necessary to make fun of the important. Perhaps more so.

Hmmm...rcade, you make me think: I was firmly committed to being cremated, since none of my enemies seem inclined to cannibalism, the only 'decent' method of corpse disposal. But now I am tending toward an open-casket ceremony with whoopie cushions concealed under a rug in front of the coffin. That, and a hidden camera/microphone broadcasting the looks on people's faces when they step on the rug to a gathering in another room.

posted by umberto at 7:01 PM on April 29, 2002

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