No celebrity's death is real until someone starts hawking shoddy merchandise at inflated prices in their honor. Eulogies and round the clock casket coverage are fine, but how does one say truly say goodbye without a tastefully painted coin that's legal currancy in certain provinces of El Salvador? Commemorative plates, coins, bumper stickers, and urinal cakes are a part of our culture, and they are pure capitalism. Oh sure, there are other ways to profit from a celebrity death, with biographies and television programming, but those may have some educative value. Commemorative tchochkes are pure exploitation, they never accrue in value as is often promised and nobody has ever used one for its ostensible purpose.
Yes, the commemorative plate and coin industries have done a superb job of making sure that Americans can remember their fallen heroes not by contributing money to charities in their names or helping to extend their legacies, but rather by lining the pockets of morbid opportunists. Their great service is not done though, not by a long shot. You see, coming up in less than 3 decades is the mother of all commemorative plate situations. You thought Princess Di was huge? Nothing. Not even a test run. Coming up in a little more than 29 years is the big banana. The 2,000th anniversary of Jesus' death. I expect that there will be a deluge of tasteful and attractive pieces of junk created in celebration of this occasion. I expect that infomercial space will be sold years in advance to promote it. I even expect that some of the companies will claim that their products are endorsed by Jesus, and that this will cause consternation among some.
But will it be enough? After all, this is a man whose fans almost think he can walk on water. He's maintained a strong following for two millenia, and his book was a huge bestseller in the 1950s (they may even reprint it for this occasion.) He's not to be trifled with.
Therefore I suggest that the commemorative card and coin industries ought to produce at least 20 pieces of invaluable crap for every living American. You may see this as a risk for that industry, so I believe that congress should pass legislation requiring every American to purchase at least that many lovely decorative plates. It'd be an economic stimulus too.
Besides the whole Jesus thing, there are other markets that the decorative plate people haven't tapped either. For example, why does a celebrity have to die before we can get a nice plate with their face on it? What about those who are taken out of commission in other ways? Like how about a Martha Stewart commemorative plate when she goes to the pokey. Even better, a Michael Jackson plate, complete with him waving goodbye to Blanket as he's hauled off in an organg jumpsuit. Commemorate the arrest of the king of pop in style.
Plus you wouldn't have to color in the porceline, just outline his face.