People Who Live in a Fishbowl Often Don"t Make Good Choices


Her dad was Elvis. The King of Rock n' Roll. Yeah that Elvis. Despite her smolderingly sexy good looks, she opted for a singing career instead of acting or modeling, where her real advantages lie.

She is a 'serial bride,' having married and split up three times before she was 30. One of them was to the other (very other) 'King' (of Pop), Michael Jackson. Watching her smooch Jacko on stage in taped reruns from the MTV music awards from 1994 still makes me nauseous. And that was before the news broke about all the funny business Jacko is embroiled in today.

Lisa Marie Presley, it seems, has sold off most of the assets of her father's estate to an entertainment conglomerate. She sold 'the bulk of the Elvis estate, including rights to her father's name and image,' news reports have stated.

She bailed out at running the family business to cash in her major asset and deploy those resources toward other ends. There is certainly nothing unusual about that. The Elvis estate is big business. Image rights, movie, television, and music royalties are all still rolling in.

Running an operation that big definitely calls for a full-time commitment from an experienced entertainment business professional, which high-school dropout Lisa Marie most certainly isn't. Her lack of business acumen shows in the details of the deal.

Lisa Marie sold 85% of her shares in Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. to Robert F.X. Sillerman, founder of music and sports promoter SFX Entertainment, for $100 million dollars.

But why sell an estate that brings in $45 million a year for $100 million? Lisa Marie has $25 million in debts (of which she will be absolved under this deal), but on the face of it, the sale doesn't seem like a bright move. At least she gets $20 million in shares of the new company formed to run the estate.

ABC Entertainment says, 'As Presley's only child, Lisa Marie is the sole heir to the estate, most of which is now to become part of a publicly traded company that will be called CKX Inc.

The agreement will pay her $53 million in cash and absolve her of $25 million in debts owed by the estate. She also is to get shares in the new company expected to be worth more than $20 million.

Lisa Marie will retain possession of her father's home, its more than 13 acres of land, and many of her father's "personal effects," an announcement on the agreement said.'

So it is a done deal. The King is Dead! Long Live the Copyrights!

The thing that is so distressing about this development isn't what it says about modern business practices, American pop culture, or the ultimate fate of Lisa Marie Presley, as interesting as these topics are. No, what it is illustrative of is the old saying, 'A fool and his money soon go separate ways.'

It is a strange thing about the way the American public engages in an orgy of schadenfreude watching the rich, famous, and beautiful stumble through their lives. If you feel guilty about indulging yourself in this form of voyeurism, you can justify it by reminding yourself of the lessons learned from it.

People love and hate all these seamy and yet funny spectacles. The important aspect of them is what they tell us about ourselves. It is still possible to rise from nothing as Elvis did, and become a rich, fat, drug-addicted parody of yourself, and still end up a cultural icon to the world. And then to die with your pants around your knees on the toilet, choked to death on your own upchuck. Only in America , I guess.

Lisa Marie has not imploded to the same extent as her father did, but she is no role model, either. What prevents this from being undeniably morbid on the part of the public is the near-certain knowledge that Lisa Marie will be okay in the end. She won't end up as the night clerk at a gas station in suburban Los Angeles , or something just as plebeian as other 'stars' have.

The thing that is alternately fascinating and repellent at the same time is the unanswered questions as to what flaws in the character, or weaknesses of spirit cause such roller coaster rides of destiny to beset people who 'have it all.' Are they weak? Unlucky, perhaps, or just plain stupid? So it seems their undeniable beauty, fame, talent, and wealth are not enough to save them. In the final analysis, such things as money, fame, and all the rest aren't enough. They are the human sacrifices of American pop culture. They make the Faustian bargain with the gods of celebrity and so get to live out the lifestyles of the rich and famous, but in the end like Dr. Faust, must give their souls over to the satanic powers of the pop culture.

Unlike Faust, they are tortured and harassed via an ongoing S&M-style relationship with the minions of the pop culture: Paparazzi, publicity hounds, suck-ups, groupies, and the tabloid press. But the truth be told, the pain and pleasure are but two sides of the same coin. To celebs, the only thing worse than being stalked by the paparazzi and the rest is not being stalked by them.

Ordinary people love to chuckle and guffaw at the foibles of the poor little rich people. Realistically, though, what else can be expected? Like athletes, politicians, and others who have risen to the top strata of society, they begin to believe that the norms and rules of life don't apply to them. If they wanna party all night and horn up coke, they can. They have like Faust the ability to do very nearly whatever they wish. And like Faust, the consequences can't be denied or postponed indefinitely.

People who live in a fishbowl often don't make good choices. Sometimes they do so because they can't help themselves and sometimes just because they can.

Your rating: None
Ali Hassan Massoud's picture
Columns on STR: 43

Ali Massoud is a proud old-school isolationist who writes for the Internet and blogs.