By Michael Margavitch, Columnist
Shortly following the conclusion of the Spring 2011 semester, a shocking death rattled the Hofstra community. Dana Brand, a long-time English professor at the University, passed away last May at the age of 56. He was both respected and honored in his passing. English Department chairman Joseph Fichtelberg even dedicated a memorial scholarship fund that people can send donations to in Brand's name. With this, along with a memorial ceremony scheduled to occur on Nov. 9, Professor Brand has been given a proper send-off.
However, there are instances in which death is used for personal gain. The most blatant and apparent form of this practice occurs in the music industry.
Remember the line, "Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings" from It's a Wonderful Life? For record companies, the line becomes "Every time an artist dies, we cash in like there's no tomorrow."
Look at Tupac. We may be halfway through the 22nd century and his posthumous albums will still be gold. Amy Winehouse had a significant increase in record sales the week after her death. Hendrix, Joplin, Cobain, and Morrison have all attained legendary status.
However, nothing compares to Michael Jackson; the record companies want to collect every last cent they can through his death. The King of Pop died over two years at the age of 50, shortly before his much-discussed final "This Is It" concert. Jackson was having financial troubles and concocted this concert as a way to revive his failing estate. Even though Jackson could not personally benefit from this concert following his passing, others could. ‘This Is It' was released as a documentary concert movie and grossed an astounding $260 million dollars worldwide.
The company took their greed and America's fascination further by releasing a ‘This Is It' soundtrack, and a posthumous album, ‘Michael.' Each of these releases was so successful that they were both certified platinum.
However, not everyone was thrilled by ‘Michael.'
Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am did not believe the recordings measured up to Jackson's level.
In an interview with magazine Rolling Stone, Will.i.am said, "How can you release a record without Michael Jackson? It's not Michael Jackson. I heard the song that's on the Internet now [‘Breaking News'] and I'm like, ‘That ain't Mike.' He wasn't there to do his micro-Michael-managing that he did with ‘Thriller' and ‘Billie Jean.' It disgusts me."
Record companies have seemed to ignore this criticism since a second posthumous album, the seventy-track ‘Immortal' is slated for a release on Nov. 21 by Jackson's longtime record company, Epic Records.
There's more! Go attend Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson ‘The Immortal World' Tour, seriously. The tour began last month in Montreal. The second posthumous album will be a backdrop to the whole show. We are only two years into the leeching and all of this greed has been displayed so quickly. Have you no shame, Epic Records?
Death is a serious matter that should result in courteous remembrance, not excitement of potential profit. Hopefully no more of these deaths receive the "Michael Jackson treatment" because everyone deserves to be remembered in a way similar to our own Dana Brand.