Casual Conversation, 29 June, 2011


The story below, claiming that Britney Spears is interested in making cryopreservation arrangements with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, appeared in the British tabloid The Sun on 25 May, 2011. The Sun is one of Rupert Murdoch’s many (Fox News) sad efforts at journalism. And whilst it is a tabloid, it is enormous in its size and reach. This means that objective claims it makes about celebrities must be taken more seriously than, say, those of the National Enquirer, in the US. This is so because The Sun is published in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland (where it is known as The Irish Sun) where libel and invasion of privacy laws are quite strict and the penalties for defamation, or even for just invading personal privacy, can be severe. With an average daily circulation of ~ 2,904,180, The Sun has a lot to lose if it too cavalierly publishes detailed  lies – even if they are about a celebrity as notoriously volatile and controversial as the pop singing star Britney Spears. The Sun is by far the largest newspaper in the UK (having long ago eclipsed The Times and The Guardian ) with an estimated daily readership of ~ 7,700,000; and it is the 10th largest newspaper in the world.

This makes the Spears story worthy of notice here.  – Mike Darwin

It’s a little Brit chilly

Published: 25 May 2010

BRITNEY SPEARS wants to be FROZEN after her death – so she can be brought back to life later.

The eccentric star wants her body preserved in LIQUID NITROGEN so future generations can enjoy her dance routines in red plastic catsuits.

Britney is so enamoured by the idea – “cryogenic” freezing – that she’s investing in a firm specialising in it.

The Alcor Life Extension Foundation is one of the oldest companies of its kind, founded in 1972. On its website, the Arizona-based firm gives its aim as: “Using ultra-cold temperature to preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when technology becomes available to do so.”

A pal of the star said: “Brit gets these obsessions and this is the latest.

“It started when someone told her Walt Disney had been preserved by cryogenics to be revived in the future. That was a myth but it got her researching the foundation and she became convinced it was worth a shot.

“Brit found the whole thing so interesting she spent most of her Mother’s Day trip to Disneyland researching the subject on the internet while a nanny took the boys round the park.

“She looked into having her ashes turned into diamonds after she is gone but settled on the chance of getting to live in the future.”

But before she invests loads of cash, she has to convince her dad Jamie, who currently holds the purse strings.

The source went on: “Jamie is quite happy to let Brit have her little obsessions, especially when it means she’s holed up on the internet safely or watching the Discovery Channel.

“And if she wants to invest her money in cryogenics that’s fine, we’re only talking $350,000 tops. However, much more than that and he may change his mind.”

The company has been the subject of controversy in the past.

Last year ex-employee Larry Johnson alleged, in his book Frozen, that a former baseball star’s head stored on the premises had been walloped by staff practising their batting swing.

That would bring terrible new meaning to the song (Hit Me) Baby One More Time…

Read more:



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11 Responses to Casual Conversation, 29 June, 2011

  1. gwern says:

    IIRC, wasn’t that later disclaimed & denied? And given how well Stevens worked out for cryonics, I can’t expect Spears to work out much better.

    In any event, your first graphic is a bit messed up: ‘converation’.

  2. unperson says:

    spears’ people probably wrote the story themselves and may have even paid that newspaper to run it.

    Spears probably needs publicity to rescue her flagging money machine, and cryonics and celebrity is usually a ticket to a publicity garnering “news” story.
    We have seen a number of such stories, all false of course. Michael Jackson, I believe that one. When he did that Bashir story, and he was looking at the egyptian sarcophagus, and Bashir asked him if he wanted to be buried in it, and Jackson reactly honestly and quickly: “no, I don’t want to be buried at all. I want to live forever right here on earth.”

    That mofo was an immortalist. Would love to have known him. The music he made as an adult did nothing for me, but to be an immortalist as a black person, wow, the dude was different. And it really goes to show you how important enculturation really is.

    • admin says:

      The world of celebrity is a very strange one, even by cryonics standards. I don’t pretend to understand it. For one thing, it is very inhomogeneous and there is no “it.” However, if there is a common thread, it is removal of the individual from the world of “normal” feedback. Most people, even fairly powerful people in business, are subject to constant correction and feedback; if not at work, then at home, but usually to some extent in both places. Get pulled out of that milieu and you will soon find yourself drifting. It is astonishing just how much of what you know you need to do is shaped by your environment, and by the limitations and demands it puts on you. If your environment becomes nonjudgmental, seemingly endlessly abundant in resources, and lacking in the ability to reward small but important behaviors…well, then you are fucked. Colossally fucked, in fact. You quickly begin to become completely lost; often even to knowing how to feel, when to sleep, when to stop doing one thing and start doing another… The more I see of celebrity, the more I become convinced that a huge hunk of sanity comes from interacting with a “harsh” and “demanding” environment Depression and suicide are lowest in subsistence cultures, and at the very lowest in hunter-gatherer cultures. One of the great problems of abundance is to handle the workload of making lot’s of choices – leaving aside completely the burden of making the RIGHT ones. Celebrities face all these problems, plus being constantly told they are the best and have been exempted from the expectations under which the rest of humanity labors. That’s incredibly corrosive. Michael Jackson? Yes, I saw the Bashir interview, and I agree with you that that response was genuine. However, getting from THAT point to the point of doing anything concrete is an enormous gulf. — Mike Darwin

      • Mark Plus says:

        And then you read about celebrities who handle their money frugally, display self-control and avoid making asses of themselves in public. They don’t provide the tabloid entertainment value of celebrities like Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton or Charlie Sheen.

        I wonder if the popularity of the survival and white trash reality shows on cable TV (three of the latter series have the word “swamp” in the title!) derives from the desire to have fewer choices in life, kind of an escape from today’s complexity fatigue. The popularity of zombie apocalypses probably derives from a similar tendency. They usually show society’s alpha male elites in the military, government and law enforcement getting wiped out, thereby providing opportunities for lower status males from the ranks of servility workers to step into the vacuum and become the dominant males in the remnant of human society, where survival with reality-based choices replaces trying to live according to the rules of the alpha males’ authority games.

        • admin says:

          There are certainly many kinds of celebrities, although I have had virtually no contact with the current crop. The personality structure of the individual is obviously important, as is the micro-environment they reside in. Beyond that, I think big factors to consider are their age, life experience and mentoring environment, if any. There are certainly celebs like Paul Newman (was) who stay grounded and highly functional. But even in Newman’s case there was an edge and reserve that I think were an artifact of the distrust that celebrity breeds. There are also different kinds of celebrity. Jay Leno is a celebrity, but he is not likely to be mistaken for a god, let alone treated like one. Being young and being treated like a god – that’s a recipe for bad behavior and heartbreak. One other factor to consider, which has to be seen first hand to really be appreciated, is the combination of the relative lack of privacy with being “on the job” 24-7. The fatigue most people feel after a day’s work when they come home, shuck their work clothes, and go to the pub, or maybe grab a burger with their family or friends, is pretty much unrelieved in celebrity. There is often constant hypervigilance akin to what you see in PTSD and a pressing awareness that one ill tempered word or out of persona action can be very damaging. That’s a sickening way to live, and if you can’t imagine what it would feel like – then consider yourself very lucky.

          The advent of social networking caused me to shudder. It comes as no surprise to me that kids are killing themselves over cyber-bullying, because it is very much akin to celebrity. It used to be that there was a break, a respite, not only from the bullying, but from the need to be concerned and vigilant about its social effects. A kid could come home and not have to be actively dealing with it until the next school day. Not so anymore. In that sense, social networking and more generally the Internet, are increasingly giving everyone a taste of what it is like to be a celebrity just in knowing that someone, somewhere is working to hurt you round the clock. And, with rare exception, it is mostly someone working to do harm. — Mike Darwin

  3. Abelard Lindsey says:

    I think the Spears story is bogus. Also, I think I’ve heard of it sometime before. I don’t pay much attention to the antics of celebrities.

    • admin says:

      I think that the kind of star that historically get’s labeled as a “cryonicist” is fascinating, and just possibly instructive about how the public perceives cryonics (in a way we would not otherwise get to see). Here’s my shortlist of cryo-celebs (additions welcome) as given to us by the media. Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton, Simon Cowell and Britney Spears. There is a common thread there, and it’s not very nice… — Mike Darwin

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        Yeah, they’re all perceived as flakes by the media.

      • Fundie says:

        Does Larry King fit in that list?

        • admin says:

          Good point. I’d forgotten about Larry. To the extent that he, like the others, has become of the butt of jokes, I’d say yes, he fits. He also has associated with him the same kind of narcissism that the others on the list share (at least in the public’s perception). In his case I would say that this is unfair. His marital life has unarguably been a train wreck, but his professional career has been respectable. Perhaps it is the recent marriages to much younger women that have caused the narcissist perception to stick. The others on the list are people who have become, in one way or another, caricatures of themselves and of narcissism, justifiably or otherwise. All have entered that weird sphere of outlandishness that seems to be a prerequisite for being “tarred” with the cryonics brush. Dead or alive, it became impossible to take any of those people seriously. If Zsa Zsa Gabor had not been publicly anti-cryonics in the 1970s, I would have expected to see her on the list, as well. FWIW Larry King was genuinely interested in cryonics in the late 1980s, in that he took the time to ask serious and personal questions about its mechanics, both before and after we were interviewed by him. He has publicly stated he is a non-believer and he has a long history, going back to at least the 1970s, of giving cryonics fair treatment on radio and TV. — Mike Darwin

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