Michael Jackson isn’t even in the ground yet and already, the vultures are circling. I’m not not talking about the paparazzi or relatives looking for a mention in the will.
Nope, I’m referring, of course, to the Bradford Exchange. Kissing cousin to the Franklin Mint, this company has already put out a hideous commemorative MJ plate. The Spencer Gifts-ish art blows: I am afraid either the eyes will follow me or they'll morph into a cheetah when I look away. I guess that’s okay, since whoever buys this crap deserves to be a jungle cat’s snacklet.
After 9/11, I was working for a book publisher who was rushing to press a commemorative photo book on the Twin Towers. When I protested, I was told that "We should not apologize for making books that people want." I get that. But let's not pretend that it's not gross.
I grew up amidst tchotchkes: Hummel figurines, glass slippers, beer cans, miniature trains, souvenir spoons and thimbles, antique baskets. I had a lot of shit to dust. But the most disturbing thing had to be the Emmett Kelly clown plates. As I lay tossing and turning in my twin bed, tormented by images of the sad-faced clown, I wanted to give that plate a real reason to look sad.
Princess Di’s wedding and death, presidential inaugurations, a Thomas Kinkade Christmas—why do these occasions drive folks to fork over hard-earned clams for a porcelain plate rimmed in precious metal that will never see the dinner table? If you’re looking for wall art, why not buy a Farrah poster or some sort of rad black velvet Elvis poster? Those are much easier on the eyes and won’t hurt you in the event of an earthquake.
As a smooth criminal, I want to hijack the entire fug shipment of MJ collector’s plates—the only plate with art personally approved by Michael Jackson himself!—smash them, and make limited-edition mosaic tables out of the shards, which I’ll sell for three easy payments of $19.95.
If I see a Michael Jackson Beanie Baby, heads are gonna roll.