Will we ever stop idolising celebrities after their deaths?

Millions flock every year to the supposed umbilical cord and foreskin of baby Christ, revering and adoring these relics with such veneration and respect. People travel miles to see the corporeal remains of saints and Jesus Christ, so is the idolisation of celebrities after their deaths really so different? I’d say yes.

With the recent auction around Kurt Cobain’s green cardigan that he wore on MTV Unplugged not long before his death, it seems a good time to question the idolisation of celebrities after their deaths. Will we ever stop? I doubt it, not while there are celebrities that are so highly esteemed in popular culture and society more broadly. There will always be those who take it a bit too far.

On the one hand, it seems harmless – and a lot of the time, the money goes to charity. Oliva Newton-John sold her iconic black leather jacket and trousers from Grease and donated some of the profit to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Australia.

But the thing is, idolisation goes a bit further than this – it goes towards the realms of the strange and uncomfortable. To the point where it reaches stalker territory. Two people have bid in the past on Marylin Monroe’s medical records and x-rays – a chest x-ray from when she was twenty-eight fetched $45,000 and the medical files about a nose job and a chin implant were sold for $26,000. And that’s not even some of the weirdest stuff: some of Michael Jackson’s burnt hair, William Shatner’s kidney stone, Britney Spear’s used pregnancy test, John Lennon’s tooth, the blood of Ronald Regan, the list goes on and on and on (and makes you worry about some of humanity). 

I think it’s fine to like a celebrity, and in the case of Kurt Cobain, admire them and enjoy their music, but to go to the extreme lengths of paying exorbitant sums for a part of their body or a piece of their unwashed clothing is almost vulgar.

Image: MTV Unplugged

Stephanie Bennett

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