Your Money Or Your Life?

No-one would suggest Bernie Madoff’s crime wasn’t serious. It was stealing, pure and simple. Probably the greatest ‘heist’ of all time. It was hardly on par with the crimes of a serial killer, though.

Or, was it?

There was a time when human life was the most precious thing. To take it away warranted the full penalty of the law. A life sentence, with no time off for good behavior, was the only suitable punishment for cold-blooded murder.

(NOTE: the all-embracing preciousness of human life rules out any mention here of the death penalty, which negates that preciousness and is no more than legalized revenge killing).

Yet, Madoff received a cold-blooded murderer’s sentence, simply for stealing.

Does this mean money has now become more important to society than human life? Is the greenback dollar the ultimate symbol of everything we hold precious?

Does anyone out there remember “Charlie’s Angels”?

“Charlie’s Angels” was a long running TV show from the seventies. Farrah Fawcett-Majors played the character, Jill Munroe, one of ‘The Angels’ in the first series, then returned for a number of episodes in series three and four.

This poster of Farrah Fawcett just happens to be the best selling pin-up poster of all time. It sold over twelve million copies.


Farrah Fawcett died on June 25th, from cancer, at the age of sixty-two years.

While cable TV aired the usual re-runs to mark her passing, and Larry King managed a mention on his CNN evening show, in the news bulletins Fawcett’s death was hardly mentioned.

Why? Because a little runt of a guy whose only claim to fame was his ability to sing and dance, behave like a spoiled kid throughout his fifty year life, and surround himself with vulnerable under-age children, chose that same day – June 25th – to expire on the floor of his California mansion, from years of drug abuse and unnecessary cosmetic surgeries.

The only surprise about Michael Jackson’s demise was how long it took to happen.

Both Fawcett and Jackson narrowly beat another fifty year old to the mythical ‘Pearly Gates’.

King of the pitchmen, Billy Mays, was found dead in the early hours of June 28th, from what appears to have been heart failure.


Mays’s claim to fame was his ability to sell useless products to brain dead housewives, who’d buy anything waved at them from a TV screen if it meant they could cease the vacuuming for ten minutes.

Death is no joke. Invariably, someone is broken by grief at the loss of even the most dastardly and worthless of individuals.

Life, however, is a huge comedy. At least, that part of life involving human beings. Surely there must be gods somewhere rolling helplessly, clutching their sides with mirth, as they watch we mortals constantly manifest our abundant inanity?

A mere four years ago, the media circus rallied in pursuit of a pedophile charged with preforming acts of gross indecency on minors. Shortly before that event this same individual was filmed dangling a newborn baby over a third floor balcony. The heinous nature of his crimes was discussed and dissected in a media bloodfest, the accused viciously slandered, tried, found guilty before even entering a courthouse.

Now he’s dead, that same media is moving, with all the precision of a great computerized monster, to turn him into a god.

If the deities on Mount Olympus could rein in their mirth for just a moment they might pause to ask themselves why mankind’s behavior is so fickle. Yet, they don’t have to, for the reason’s plain to see. It manifests in the form of a green-backed dollar bill.

The longer Michael Jackson’s memory is kept alive the more records and memorabilia will be sold. Already his sagging record sales have rocketed skywards. Keeping public interest in the Jackson story alive is the media’s responsibility. It means higher ratings, and that in turn produces greater advertising revenue. The inevitable squabbles over his possessions will likely rumble on for years, causing corporate executives to rub their hands with glee. It’s likely Jackson will be worth much more to them dead, than he ever was while alive.

There’s nothing to be gained from keeping the memory of Farrah Fawcett alive. No hit records, just a few long-binned TV shows and Hollywood movies.

As for old Billy Mays – well, I turned on the TV this morning and there he was, grinning back at me with a bottle of domestic cleaner clutched in his hairy fist.

After all, it’s not in the make-up of advertising executives to pull those adverts for a while, spare a thought for Billy’s wife and family, or those of us who might just consider it a mark of respect.

Not when there’s a greenback, or two, at stake.

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4 Replies to “Your Money Or Your Life?”

  1. It’s a funny old game ain’t it, RJ – this life we live ?

    The communal grief over celeb deaths grows in tandem with the spread of more and more networking tools. When I was a kid we had to wait for such news from Alvar Liddell (or his ilk) on the BBC Home Service. We’d ooh and ahh for ten minutes and it’d be forgotten. Now such events become a matter of days and days of mourning and memories.

  2. RJA:
    We’ve done this before, very similar posts on the same topic except mine includes old Ed.
    It truly staggers me how priorities have so shifted.
    I didn’t write anything up on Bernie (old BM) – yet.
    Great minds, eh?

  3. Oh come on R.J.

    “People mutht be amuthed, thquire”

    …They can’t alwayth be a’working nor a’ political commenting.

    I heard that old Jacko was the ‘Greatest Song and Dance man, ever.’

    Personally I never listened to his songs or watched him dance, but I guess he must have had something.

    What did Billy in ‘Chicago’ say? “… Life’s a circus…’

    But I do take your point(s)

    The thing is, we are still evolving… there is time yet.

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