Social Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

How much fun can it be writing an obituary?

Asked by elbanditoroso (13712 points ) December 20th, 2013

Al Goldstein, famous pornographer and publisher of Screw Magazine, and a truly historical icon in American culture, died earlier this week.

I call your attention to the obit that appeared in today’s Times:

How much fun do you think the obituary writer had with this one ? It’s so full of information and anecdotes and borderline salaciousness that it’s a joy to read.

Do obit writers see colorful guys like Goldstein as an opportunity to strut their obituary stuff?

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18 Answers

ucme's avatar

I bet it’s dead good, ba-dum tiss.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I know a woman who has this job for the newspaper. Most obits come from the family with help from the funeral director and the staff at the Obit dept. The people taking the obit over the phone will spend a lot of time working with the family. Often the phone call acts as an impromptu vehicle for the spouse to grieve and come to terms with the loss. They might end up telling a story or sobbing. It does not matter. She just listens, speaks kindly, and takes the information down as carefully as possible.

ibstubro's avatar

It’s my understanding that these mass media obits are written in advance and stored so they can be published in a polished form immediately upon the death of a notable figure. It’s more of a literary enterprise, not having the immediacy of breaking news or the average person’s obit. I agree that Newman did a great job – it would certainly be easier to have fun with an obituary written prior to someone else’s death. Especially knowing that the subject – Al Goldstein – wouldn’t have expected or wanted a solemn send off.

I was amused by the phrases, “pushed hard-core pornography into the cultural mainstream” and “He clearly coarsened American sensibilities” like he was forcing porn on the populous rather than pandering to a ready audience.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Am I the only one that finds that obit as tasteless as they obviously found Goldstein? It’s actually pretty offensive. I mean, I don’t know the guy and he perhaps would’ve loved it, but I didn’t find it amusing at all. It was more like a game of how many insults they could fit into x amount of words.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That one did an excellent job of summing up Goldstein’s life. He would probably have loved it.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@ibstubro – I liked the reference to the Pillsbury Doughboy, myself..

elbanditoroso's avatar

@livelaughlove21 – I don’t think they were insults, and I think that the tone and style of the obit was 100% appropriate for the guy.

My thinking is that Goldstein would have roared with laughter (if he could read this obituary) and enjoyed the hell out of it.

ibstubro's avatar

@elbanditoroso and it’s possible that he did vet the obit at some point! Stranger things have happened. It would be a great way to get inside information.

Rarebear's avatar

I wrote my dad’s and my sister’s obituaries. Not that fun.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Well, being the subject of the obit might not be fun either.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I think about that sometimes and am going to (hopefully) write mine in advance, and I hope my family does, too. There are thing’s you may want people to know so I think placing that with your will and healthcare directives would be a good idea.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That’s an interesting idea. I like that.

ucme's avatar


flutherother's avatar

Writing an obituary for someone you didn’t like would be fun.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@flutherother We had one posted here once and it was truly awful and painful to read. By a relative, too, I believe. Anyone have that link by chance?

glacial's avatar

@livelaughlove21 and @elbanditoroso I’m kind of confused by your comments here… I neither found it insulting nor funny.

I do think writing obituaries would be enjoyable, at least some of the time. I imagine a great many of the people they have to write about are, well, dull. But I like reading capsules of people’s lives. This site, for example, is a treat. They offer one biography per day, often people I’ve never heard of, yet.

rojo's avatar

It was no fun writing my dads but I have fun composing my own from time to time.

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