In the wake of the tragic passing of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and the semi-tragic yet somewhat predictable passing of singer Amy Winehouse, citizens across the nation have been buzzing with speculation as to which celebrity will be the next to meet an untimely and highly publicized end.
“My money is on Regis Philbin,” said Dirk Pinkerton of Harrisburg, PA. “He’s got to be like, what, 98? Now that I think about it, that Kelly Ripa chick is pretty damn old too. Have you seen her in those TD Bank commercials? Her face looks like someone pulled a sheet of plastic wrap over a car accident.”
“I think it’s going to be somebody [who] everyone thinks is really innocent, like Taylor Swift…or one of those Jonas Brothers,” said Felicia Guggenheim of Augusta, GA. “You know how it goes: one day they’re smiling and laughing on the Disney channel, the next they’re choking on their own vomit in the bathroom of a Denny’s. Like that guy from Blue’s Clues.”
From high-stakes casino ballrooms to friendly office pools, many Americans have even begun placing bets on the celebrities they believe to be most likely to perish in the coming year. Celebrity Death Betting (or C.D.B., as it has come to be known) recently upstaged online poker in nationwide popularity, according to a study conducted by the American Gaming Association.
“People used to bet their money on football, or horse racing. But now it’s all about which Backstreet Boy is going to get in a plane crash, or whether or not that ShamWow! guy is going to pull a Billie Mays,” said professional betting advisor Jim Diggins. “Like any form of gambling, C.D.B. has two levels: casual and high stakes. You’ve got the people who bet small on sure-things—old farts that should’ve been dead already, like Clint Eastwood or Hugh Hefner. Then, you’ve got the high rollers; these people like to bet big on young, out of control celebs who are just a glass of vodka and a handful of Oxycodone away from being the next Heath Ledger.” With a wistful smile, Diggins then added, “Heath [Ledger] was actually a pick of mine; before rigor mortis had even set in, I’d won enough money to buy a second yacht. God must’ve been smiling on me that day.”
“I’ve had all my bets placed on Lindsay Lohan for the last few years,” said Gerald Flaherty of Deer Park, WA. “When she got in that DUI accident, and then the police found cocaine, I was sure that her number was coming up fast. But she just keeps bouncing back, damn it! With my luck, she’ll probably outlive us all. I want to stop betting on her and play someone else—but I know that as soon as I do, she’ll die and I’ll have lost out on some serious cash.” After spitting out his wad of dipping tobacco, Flaherty then added, “Let’s put it this way: if Little Miss Parent Trap doesn’t overdose in the next four years, none of my kids are going to college.”
America’s obsession with the death of celebrities is not a new phenomenon, according to noted sociologist Nigel Gingerthorpe, author of the bestselling nonfiction book Michael Jackson Molested Children, But Let’s All Forget That Because He’s Dead.
“The recent craze of Celebrity Death Betting has its roots deep in American culture,” said Gingerthorpe, casually dipping a crumpet into a cup of Earl Grey tea while wiping his mouth with a Union Jack and waiting in a queue to buy a toffee for sixpence. “You see, so many Americans pine for stardom, that many seem to harbor deep-seated feelings of resentment towards those who have already become famous. And so these poor, often ugly non-famous people get some level of satisfaction from watching richer, more attractive famous people descend into drug abuse and various other misadventures—the ultimate of which, of course, is death.”
“However,” continued Gingerthorpe, “the death of a celebrity does not, in fact, provide the greatest level of satisfaction to the American public. More than anything else, Americans love to watch someone who was formerly famous descend into obscurity—to become a ‘regular jack-off,’ so to speak. Seeing someone who is no better or even worse off for their fame gives gratification and relief to much of the American public. We call this the ‘Hammertime syndrome.’”
As of press time, actress Betty White has reportedly checked herself into the hospital with some sort of chest pain, causing thousands to flock to bookies across the nation.
PHOTO: david_shankbone, flickr