Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dale Earnhardt's Legacy Brings Not So Hard-Earned Money

When it comes to selecting a roster of celebrities to take for the upcoming year, DP participants will sometimes choose people who are in industries or who live lifestyles that are more prone to death. Take recently deceased Evel Knievel for instance. Those who chose Evel in 2007 benefitted from taking the daredevil.

On the other hand, these coyld be "red herrings," people who have seemingly dangerous professions yet don't pose more of a risk of dying doing what they do best. When Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin died last year, it was very much a fluke that the stingray got him in the heart instantly killing him.

It's hard to say where racecar driving fits into the equation. A severe crash at those speeds and a driver could very well find himself in a morgue rather than a hospital. That was of course the case for fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Sr. back in 2001. Now, some are looking to So collect on the fallen driver's fame.

Motorsports Authentics (which is owned by International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc.) is selling die-cast collectible versions of this fantasy car for $74.99. It's another effort to make money off Earnhardt, who died after wrecking in the 2001 Daytona 500.

No one could dispute Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig when he said at the news conference, "We certainly make some money off of Dale, let's put it that way."
This isn't something unique to racecar driving. Whenever a prominent entertainer passes, the name resonates with people who remain fans of the industry. At times, fans long to have him or her back. Most often, though, they want to honor and remember the deceased celebrity with a souvenir.

Some wonder if that is necessarily a real tribute or merely a way to capitalize on the recognizable name.
The culture of the dead celebrity has a long history (Elvis, anyone?) and isn't going away. And it's no secret that newspapers and magazines run "anniversary" stories, often about deceased subjects, because we think people will read them and, you know, buy our product.

But we can at least do him the courtesy of remembering him the way he was, not the way that will sell the most $74.99 souvenirs.
We tend to think that some souvenirs are more appropriate than others. We know that we are often comforted by our Kurt Cobain bobblehead doll that "moshes" to this day.

[Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

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