Jackson estate: “Don’t treat us like Butkus”

Providers of Funeral and Ossuary services, collectively known as the Cadaverous Arts, face challenges other merchants don’t: How to advertise a product for which someone has to die in order to use?

The bulletin at St. Margaret’s Church featured (and probably still does) a back page of ads from local businesses, several of which were funeral homes, under the heading “Please Patronize Our Advertisers.”

As a child I remember thinking:

1. You want me to talk down to your advertisers, or
2. You are actively encouraging me to die? I’m ten.

That is why C.A. establishments tend to market their wares in tones as muted as a sedate Episcopalian wake.

Except for the Forest Lawn Memorial Parks franchise.

Forest Lawn Glendale has just scored Michael Jackson’s remains in a literally bloodless coup. The King of Pop will be laid to rest on a hill overlooking the Jewel City on September 3, along with several servants and Bubbles the Chimp, who will be buried alive in perpetual attendance.

Why not the better-known Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the International Space Station, or Google’s trans-Pacific datapipe? Because Forest Lawn’s advertising makes being dead cool, and cool people have a lot to worry about.

The current Forest Lawn ad campaign introduces and then addresses specific fears of the cool departed:

  • I am famous on my own merits. I don’t want to be confused with Dick Butkus (who happened to star with Jackson crony Emmanuel Lewis in “Webster”)

I have been to my share of funerals and solemnly overturned many 40s on the graves of fallen homies. “Mourn ya ’til I join ya,” I will say. But I have never arrived at a memorial service, sat through half the eulogy, and thought, “Whoa. Wrong funeral.”

I have also been spared the pain of visiting a mass grave, where the decedents’ anonymity underlines a greater tragedy. But I still doubt that, were I to visit one, the funeral oration would be for a whole different group of people and that everyone involved in planning the service somehow mixed up his index cards.

That is why the Forest Lawn campaign is brilliant; it suggests that, at other cemeteries, your mourners will weep at someone else’s grave.

So I am happy that Michael Jackson’s plot won’t be confused with anyone else’s, like Ricardo Montalban’s or Ernest P. Worrell’s, but I do wonder if, at some less reputable cemetery somewhere, a family’s dearly departed ex plumber dad is being eulogized for his moonwalking skills, or a grieving parent, upon visiting a grave inscribed with foreign characters and the wrong dates, says “The kid is not my son.”

Previously: Thoughtful perspectives on selecting your upscale grave
See also: Forest Lawn, Glendale Police Dept. Estimates Cost of Security for Micahel Jackson Burial

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