Forgiveness? Have You Tried Staging Your Death?
Written By Margarita Peces Collar
A pile of bones. A handful of ashes. Once our time comes, no one is able to look into our eyes or hear our voices again. As sad and scary as it may be, we all know the physical version of ourselves has an expiration date.
Nonetheless, there is no doubt that our legacy lives on. We continue to exist in the memories of those that once knew us, saw us, or at least heard from us during their lifetime. To some, our death may be the only reason they have thought about us in the years after we passed on.
This is what makes life after death so fascinating. Not necessarily what happens to us once we pass away, but rather our continued relevance in the lives of those we are forced to leave behind.
If you are part of the 99.9914% of the world’s population, it may be easy for you to pinpoint a certain number of people who would miss and mourn your passing if you were to die tomorrow. It may be just as easy to pinpoint others who would easily forget about you days later. With that being said, the remaining 0.0086% of humanity that is considered to be famous might find this task more challenging. Taking this into consideration, it’s no wonder some celebrities have become obsessed with their legacy. Whatever they choose to do once they are in the public eye determines whether an entire generation or sector of the world will grieve or celebrate their passing.
Nowadays, with the emergence of cancel culture or “consequence culture,” as actor LeVar Burton suggests we call it, it seems normal for people to mock a celebrity’s death with memes on the internet.
When your actions are constantly captured on camera and every statement you make in each interview is dissected word by word, you become acutely aware of the scrutiny that even your tiniest of mistakes will face. Once you’re canceled, forgiveness is not that easy to receive. Some people might consider themselves lucky to be dead before being held accountable for their mistakes.
When John Lennon died 40 years ago, he seemed to have earned his place in heaven. In the words of bandmate Paul McCartney, his late friend had become “Martin Luther Lennon” as he was shot in December 1980. But Lennon was no saint. Yet despite accusations of being aggressive towards his son and being physically and emotionally cruel to any woman as a self-confessed “hitter,” fans still flooded the streets of Washington D.C. to commemorate him in a silent tribute. Death allowed him to gain something his millions of dollars could have never achieved: forgiveness. To this day, he remains a canonized legend within the music industry.
Due to this phenomenon, conspiracy theories emerge claiming other famous personalities could have seen death as the way to avoid being lynched for their controversial past. Some say Michael Jackson had to run away and hide before the victims of his alleged abuses in Neverland completely ruined him. Once dead and crowned as the King of Pop, once mourned by entire generations, accusing him of such atrocities would cause the victims to appear as opportunists looking to ruin Jackson’s legacy.
Was the singer “lucky” enough to pass away before it was too late to gain redemption, or smart enough to stage his death and become untouchable just in time?
Who knows whether legends of the music industry such as Lennon and Jackson would have been considered as such if they had been alive in our time. It seems, similarly to whether or not Michael Jackson is hidden somewhere on the globe, or if another life awaits after death, that this mystery will forever remain unsolved.
Just in case the “staging your own death” strategy is not as effective anymore though, I recommend a simple apology when trying to gain forgiveness. At the end of the day, most of us lack the fame to get our deaths to become a trending topic on Twitter anyways.