Thursday, May 20, 2004

And another hoax unveiled

While reading a friend's journal, I was momentarily stunned by the news that Andy Kaufman had returned. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain I seemed to remember something about cancer and death and lots and lots of mourners, tributes, and even a movie about Kaufman's life and comedy. Evidently, he resurfaced on the 20th anniversary of faking his death as some sort of performance art cum stab at immortality. Interesting, but not earth shattering. He is not the first nor will he be the last to perpetrate this particular hoax.

People have dropped off the edge of the world since the beginning of civilization. Of course it was much easier before records, writing, and social security numbers, but not impossible. People fake their deaths to avoid taxes, paying bills, spouses they can't or won't divorce, and they disappear so they can enjoy dissipation, drugs, booze, sex, crime, and the endless adventure of a life without property, family, friends, relatives, or responsibilities. They don't call it performance art; they call it disappearing.

In the 50s & 60s L. Ron Hubbard and a group of his literary cronies hatched a plot to create a religion, makes lots of money, fake their deaths and retire to someplace sunny and warm with hot and cold running water, sex, and booze. Scientology is the religion and L. Ron Hubbard is dead. The only question Kaufman's return brings to my mind is whether or not Hubbard is out there enjoying the proceeds of his performance art and the thousands of famous, near famous, and wannabe famous people he has brought into the fold to fund his retirement.

Kaufman says he faked his death to make a statement and to become immortal. Will he become immortal? Will people remember his statement for more than an extra 15 minutes of fleeting fame as he tours the Wal-Marts, truck stops, and Starbucks around the world, or will he once again become The Man on the Moon and be remembered forever?

I say 15 more minutes, maybe 30, but I doubt immortality. I think his marker has been called.

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