You may remember that one of my early posts on the blog was my complaint of the use of holograms to bring back dead celebrities and make them perform. The idea that we were using technological advancements to raise the dead struck me as tacky and an affront to the memory of these celebrities; let these poor people rest in peace without resurrecting them for commercial gain.
So you can imagine how I feel about this commercial by Dutch brewer Bavaria that hypothesizes that Kurt Cobain, Tupac, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon and Bruce Lee aren’t really dead, but have snuck off to a dessert island away from the prying eyes of the world where they can enjoy all the Bavaria beer that they want:
I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.
I mean, seriously – how incredibly distasteful. This is a new low for celebrity desecration. I don’t know how anyone could think this was a good idea. Perhaps because they were co-opting American celebrities they thought it would be OK, but that would be an erroneous assumption. This is just gross. The selection of celebrities is especially troubling – Kurt Cobain wrestled many demons, but one of his struggles was dealing with the commercialization of his art. So using his image to hawk beer seems like an especially egregious insult. This isn’t exactly keeping with John Lennon’s value system either. Additionally, several of these celebrities suffered from addiction issues that contributed to their death, so trotting out Cobain, Elvis and Monroe to endorse alcohol isn’t particularly classy.
This commercial also isn’t very well executed; this concept is problematic from its inception but they could have at least tried a little harder to make it funny. But having John Lennon call a bartender by saying “Hey Jude” or having Cobain disgusted by Marilyn’s dress blowing up isn’t at all sophisticated. This is not to say that if they had done a better job with the crafting of the ad it would have been more tolerable – it would not – but the fact that they were so lazy with this somehow makes the ad even more offensive. If you are going to drag out some dead celebs, at least use them in a better manner.
All in all, this is just tremendously tacky. I’m sure that they are happy that people are talking about the ad (the old “any publicity is good publicity” idea), but it just makes me really sad. It’s bad enough that we think we “own” so much of celebrities when they are alive; you’d think that when they passed on they would finally be left alone. All of the people featured in this ad died tragically – haven’t their families really suffered enough? I can’t imagine that Courtney Love, Lisa Marie Presley, or Afeni Shakur is going to be pleased about this.
It’s just a commercial – and not even an American one – but it speaks to a larger problem. There really should be a moratorium on conjuring the dead for advertisement and promotion. At the very least, the families should have to sign off on it; legally this probably can’t be 100% enforced, but morally that seems like the decent thing to do. This is just bleech.