The transition from 2012 to 2013 will be a little less Dick Clarkish this year.
Actually, scratch that. Dick Clark may have officially died today, but the guy checked out a good three or four years ago. Seriously, I love Dick, but if you search the word “stroke” on his Wikipedia page, you get 16 results.
The goal for all of us in life is to succeed in our craft, possibly even get to the top if possible, but then to know when it’s time to call it quits. Dick Clark easily accomplished the first half of that. As far as becoming a media personality, he was the guy. Whatever Ryan Seacrest is now, Dick Clark was the straighter, slicker, funnier and more jovial version. The dude did his job better than anyone.
Now I’m not blaming Dick Clark for continuing his tradition of counting down the new year even in his final years, because I firmly believe that it wasn’t even his call. NBC executives probably invaded his house, kidnapped him, dressed him up and put him in front of a camera. They probably even told him that he was actually in the bathroom just so he didn’t freak out.
Having him appear on live television while in such ill-health was borderline inhumane. After his eleventieth stroke, couldn’t you let the guy enjoy New Years from the comfort of his own home in front of his family? Instead, you out him on TV, and the rest of America had to sympathize as we watched Dick incorrectly count down from 10 to 1. It was sad.
I think the same thing whenever I see Robert DeNiro in a movie. The guy was an absolute legend. Between Raging Bull, Goodfellas and the Godafther II, the man is unquestionably in the conversation of “who is the best actor of all time?” But he hasn’t been in a good film in about 10 years, and yet, he still keeps making movies. STOP IT, ROBERT. Don’t ruin your legacy!
But anyway, Dick Clark accomplished what everyone in America wanted to accomplish — becoming a household name. Every adult unquestionably knows who he is. Every 20-year-old absolutely should know who he is. And even most teenagers probably know, even though Clark was never really in his prime for them.
Don’t even ask why, or what the context was, but I was with two high sophomore girls when I discovered that Dick Clark died. As an experiment, I said aloud, “Oh shit, Dick Clark died!” just to see if they would know who he was.
One of them responded, “The singer?”
Then I said, “No, the guy who did New Years Eve.” Once I said that, it thankfully registered with them, and they became saddened. There is hope for the youth of America.
In today’s technological age, one of the most fascinating things about celebrity deaths is to see the public reaction. In the past, you would have to wait until you saw your friends at school to see what everybody was thinking. Today you simply log on Twitter and you can not only see what your friends are thinking, but what the entire world is thinking.
Inevitably, many jokes will be made. Is it insensitive? Sure. But let’s face it, the funniest jokes that we hear are the insensitive ones. There is no question that there is a direct correlation between funniness and inappropriateness. If you actually take offense to celebrity death jokes, then you are pretty easily offended. It’s not like we don’t have respect for the dead, but, saying a joke about someone who recently died does not make you a bad person. If the recently deceased was a cool person, then even they would laugh at it.
So that being said, here are a couple of great ones that I saw on my Twitter feed:
The main question that probably comes to people’s minds following Dick Clark’s death is, “How are they going to do New Years Eve this year?”
Well, it will be exactly the same. There will still be some telecast in New York City, where undeserving celebrities like Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and Ashley Tisdale will be front and center. There will be a lot of underwhelming musical performances, and you are and your buddies will still be wearing stupid party hats and drinking light beer while you wait for midnight so you can pop the bottle of cheap champagne that you bought for the occasion.
Also, a common joke you hear when an old celebrity dies are references to office death pools. Well, I counter. I think that Dick Clark has been such an obvious choice for death pools for so many years now, that everyone finally said “Ah, screw it, Dick Clark should have died by now, the man’s clearly immortal.” So everyone had already taken him off their death pools to begin with.
In all seriousness though, people only poke fun at Dick Clark because the man lived such a successful and fortunate life. He didn’t earn it because of an inheritance, or dumb luck, or because he was given a God-given talent in a certain aspect. No, he earned it because he had an great personality. How awesome is that, where you can completely make a living just for being a likable and endearing person? I think that is the real American dream.
And that’s why we mock. It’s because we love.
So rest in peace Dick, you dick.