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Death is but a doorway…


By Ryan—HodgeBlodge Reaper

I have been busy working on my “Movies You Should Netflix: Paul Blart, Mall Cop” but I had to take a break from that to get your opinion on something. Recently, and for obvious reasons, a debate has sprung up about Michael Jackson’s life. Essentially the argument goes: if MJ was this big now, his death this much of an event, imagine how big it would have been if he died 22 years ago after he had done “Bad” but before it was released.

This was posed to ESPN’s Pop Culture Guru Bill Simmons who took this concept (“when would have been the ideal time for a celebrity to die”) and made his own list—which included

“Eddie Murphy (right after “Beverly Hills Cop”), Whitney Houston (right after she filmed “The Bodyguard”), Robert De Niro (right after “Heat”), Hulk Hogan (right after Wrestlemania 6)…”

All of these are perfectly good examples but I have a few of my own:

Weezer, after Pinkerton. There are some, myself included, that leave the band in this period, like turning off Old Yeller before the end; but sadly somewhere in all of us we know the dog gets put down and we know that Weezer continued on after the hiatus. But what if Rivers had died right after recording Pinkerton? He would have made The Blue Album—one of the ten best albums of the 90s—and then he would have made a similar but more evolved follow-up and then like Buddy Holly he would have died. I’m not saying it would have launched geek-rock to grunge levels but clearly it would have taken Weezer to a whole ‘nother lever, right? I can just picture MTV covering the funeral services set to Rivers’ ballad “Butterfly.”

George Lucas, after Return of the Jedi. Think about the twelve year period from 1971 to 1983 when Lucas was responsible for the biggest box office movies in 4 separate years (the 3 Star Wars and Raiders). 26 years later those are still his only ideas and IMDB is full of variations of them, including the dreaded words: “In Development: Indiana Jones 5.” But before that quarter-century of recycling and blasphemy, imagine how much potential we assumed Lucas had.  If he creates two major franchises, makes 3 movies that are in AFI’s Top 100 list (American Graffiti was the other)…and then dies; how much would we have felt deprived?  Like the reincarnation of Orson Welles was plucked too soon?  Spielberg and Harrison Ford continued on, but the third of their triumvirate never left those dozen years, so imagine if he never left those dozen years.

JK Rowling, after Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Watching docs about Ms. Rowling, one is definitely left with the impression that she too could pull a Lucas and continue on with this series to the point of forever tainting them. If that is the case, then we may look back on today and dream wistfully of her getting hit by a bus back in 2009.  But assuming she stays strong and doesn’t mess with the series, then imagine what would happen if she didn’t finish the series. What would have happened if 6/7ths of the way through the series, Rowling keels over without ever finishing the story? Maybe the lack of completion wouldn’t make her ‘bigger’ but it certainly would make her death epic.

There are others: Bill Murray in ’93 after Groundhog Day, Tom Cruise before Scientology, but it’s not just actors, directors, or musicians that can overstay their welcome on Earth. Sometimes shows too live a little too long. They change, they jump the youknowwhat, or worse, like some evil TV Pet Cemetery they come back in a way that you never wished for.


3 Responses

  1. Just a quick FYI about Netflix’ing Paul Blart: I was KIDDING. Stop giving me shit, I’m sure it’s terrible although I’m yet to met a person who admits to seeing it.

  2. I thought Paul Blart was as good, if not better than the last Madea movie. That’s just me though…

  3. It’s always fun to see where my picture ends up.

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