Thursday, October 10, 2013

What would you pay good money for?

Every time I think that our celebrity-obsessed culture has finally jumped the very last shark possible, somebody goes and does something even more egregiously weird than the last time, or the time before that, or the time before that.

If you follow along around here, you know that this kind of thing drives me crazy. I've written about it before. Back in 2010, I wrote about somebody's plan to auction off Lee Harvey Oswald's original coffin. I don't recall if that sale ever happened, but the prospect of it was reported at the time.

I thought I had also written about another plan to auction off the bathtub that James Earl Ray had supposedly stood in while he shot Martin Luther King, Jr., but I can't find that post right now, so that might be a figment of my imagination. The sale of the tub, however, is not a figment of my imagination: NBC news reported on its sale to a casino in 2006.

Both sales are just inconceivable to me. Morbid. And just plain strange.

What, you might wonder, brings the subject up again?

Well, this does - a story on CNN's website reporting that someone is planning to auction off six of Marilyn Monroe's facial x-rays. To make this even more of a draw, I suppose, for some people, the x-rays were apparently taken just two months before her death. In the story, a representative of the auction house handling the sale justifies the sale by citing "demand". The auction house expects to bring in between $20,000 and $30,000 from the x-rays and says that it has already identified interested parties.

I'm really not sure how to even respond to this, except to say that I think it is horribly invasive. Yes, Marilyn Monroe has been dead for over 50 years. Even so, this still strikes me as nothing but wrong. And then there's the further revelation in the article about other specific things that her medical records reveal about her - things I'm not going to repeat here because I don't think it is anyone's business what is in her medical files. I even feel kind of bad about providing the link to the article online, and I'm really only linking to provide proof that this story is not all in my head.

Morbid curiosity drives these sorts of auctions, and morbid curiosity is not anything like a good excuse for an auction like this. Even in the cases above, of Oswald's coffin and Ray's bathtub, with the connection to actual history, I don't see anything but morbidity at play.

I'm not going to belabor the point any further. But, if you've got another perspective on this, I'd like to hear it. Because I just don't understand why anyone would want to buy Marilyn Monroe's x-rays. Or, really, anything else relating to a celebrity. It just doesn't make any sense to me.

One other question before I go for the day: What would you pay good money for? An autograph? A piece of furniture that belonged to someone you admire? Something else? Let me know in the comments.

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