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    'Corpse Porn': Society's Addiction To Celebrity Death
    By News Staff | September 13th 2007 09:24 PM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    The corpses of James Brown, Anna Nicole Smith and Saddam Hussein were voyeuristic spectacles for a public greedy for a last look at celebrity lives, according to an academic speaking at the Death, dying & disposal conference organised by the University of Bath today.

    Despite a lasting taboo over the ‘everyday’ dead of war and disaster, celebrity corpses have come to feed contemporary popular culture’s obsession with the cadaver of forensic investigation.

    In 2006, this included:
    • The dead body of Anna Nicole Smith, Playboy model and reality TV star, which required 24 hour protection from the media in a Florida coroner’s freezer,and whose lurid sexualization constitutes “corpse porn.’”
    • The open casket of James Brown, godfather of soul, which ‘performed’ in a funeral stage show.
    • The execution of Saddam Hussein which was broadcast via YouTube within hours of his death.
    • Continued interest in the death of Princess Diana and photographs of her dead body.
    • A television documentary which claimed to feature the bones of Jesus, one of the first ‘celebrity’ corpses.

    “Forensic investigation came to the fore in each of these prominent cases,” said Professor Jacque Lynn Foltyn from the National University, California (USA).

    “Forensic science was used as an entertainment commodity as well as for legitimate reasons of establishing personal identity, paternity or maternity.

    “It also fed popular culture’s obsession with dissection, decay and DNA. These seemingly separate media events created a series of overlapping, sometimes preposterous, narratives about the disfigured, dissected and displayed remains of the famous, legendary and possibly divine.

    “The celebrity corpse is a voyeuristic spectacle in the infotainment era. But whilst the public are greedy for a last look at celebrity corpses, there remains a taboo over the everyday human dead of war and disaster.

    ”Efforts to prevent the coffins of troops returning from Iraq being seen on television mean that we are more likely to see celebrity corpses than the caskets of dead soldiers.”

    Comments

    Susan Kuchinskas
    Fascinating, funny and creepy. Is this all the result of CSI, or is CSI (the TV program) just an early manifestation of this unhealthy obsession?
    Hank
    Heck if I know. I can gut a deer and have done it plenty so those shows don't have much appeal to me. CSI is on just about every night of the week and I have never seen one. I'll stick to "I Dream Of Jeannie" reruns.

    On topic, I imagine there's a certain satisfaction in living in a trailer watching someone with gobs of money melting down until they finally lose it completely. It's easy to feel good about yourself if someone famous is nuts.

    Remember the Nobel prize grant for documenting gay necrophilia in ducks?

    Therefore it is NOT an unnatural human perversion. But it might be a mutation of the normal common mammalian brain structure. Certainly not PRO evolutionary success.

    But any one who seriously thinks about it should admit that obsessive social monitoring for the those "rare ducks" who do engage in things like necrophilia with celebrity corpses...those observers who cannot keep their heads out of the business of the afflicted are the really worrisome types.

    Truth to be told, porn addiction is wrong and should be halted but corpse's porn is totally insane and completely another problem. What in the world is such addiction? This is really alarming, the one who is an addict with such really do need help whether he likes it or not.

    So look... I am a generalist by nature. I study a wide variety of topics including history, psychology, forensics, quantum theory and physics, sociology, ect... And I think y'all are looking at this in a kind of short sighted manor. History clearly shows a long and morbid fascination with the spectacle of death in many post agrarian cultures. Public executions have been staged since the time of Hamarabi, and include such wonderful delights as; beheading, crucifixion, hanging (usually followed by being drawn and quartered), sawing, boiling, flaying, necklacing, scaphism, ling chi, stoning, burning, drowning, and a noisy little number called the brazen bull. Our species has always been fascinated by death. And the displaying of bodies for the public eye isn't new, either. The embalmed cadavers of; Elizabeth I, Peter the great, Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, and every pope in the last thousand years have been laid out on display for a rabidly curious public. And look how popular outlaw corpse photos became in the waning years of the Western American Frontier. Our fascination with death is as old as our love of violence and mayhem. Also, the whole news media bias against showing the bodies of dead soldiers is a political scheme to try and keep our currant stint of military extravagance from looking like the Vietnam conflict. No big mystery there. Thank you for reading. Hope no one else has covered this already, didn't read past the first page of comments.

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