Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mourning Public Figures

Inspired by the public tribute to Michael Jackson, the New York Times has put together this video on the history of public funerals and viewings

The introduction articulately states: "Memorials for public figures are equal parts mourning, celebration and spectacle." 


Gail Rae said...

Since I'm into watching videos today, I couldn't resist this one. Sobering. I've never considered attending a public funeral for a social "luminary"...however, I wonder how many of your readers have considered it, why they might have, whether they've done it and what the thought of the experience.
I'm thinking now if there's any very public someone whose funeral/memorial service I would consider attending. Can't think of anyone right off but, you know, give me a minute...I'll report back if I can think of someone.

Jessica Knapp said...

My mom went to a memorial service for John Lennon when he died. A candle light vigil sort of thing.

Maybe that's a good poll question though. I haven't posted one this summer yet.

I know I've lifted toasts with friends, and back in college when I was a dramatic English major, we may have even had honorary dinners. But I can't think of actually going to a service. I absolutely would if it was someone who meant a lot to my life and I wanted to share that with other people who felt the same way.

Oh, wait, here's an example. When the playwright August Wilson died, the family put his body out for public viewing in my neighborhood in Seattle. I love his work, and he lived in my neighborhood, so I saw him around a few times. I almost went. But in the end, I didn't want to see him dead. However, I did really appreciate that they recognized he was a public figure and gave the public an opportunity to mourn.