Death + Humor Death + the Web Monuments + Memorials

The Overdue Death (and Snarky Remembrance) of Internet Explorer 6

A Funeral Is Being Held for IE6 on March 4. Browser to Be Buried Without the Body
MG Siegler, Tech Crunch (February 23, 2010)

In response to Google’s announcement that come March 1, it will no longer support Internet Explorer 6, the Aten Design Group is holding a funeral for the much be-loathed, cantankerous old man that is Microsoft’s eight-year ancient blunder of a browser.

Mock funerals forever! You can attend the service in person in Denver on March 4, send flowers or merely leave some memories — rants, backhanded compliments or even begrudging respect — at the memorial site. A few of our favorites (may require special knowledge to appreciate and fully ROFL):

Cromat: Enjoy that coffin and remember margin: 0 auto;height: 100%; is valid in heaven.

Danny Raede: He was the browser i used for many years. I will never forget installing xp, booting him up, and then downloading firefox.

Michał: Oh IE6… Such a hard person to please. Always thought he was more !important than everyone else. It’s like he could never fall inline and instead just float’d along by himself. And though he was often the bane of my existence, it pains me to see him now that he has Layout in the coffin. It makes me want to just * > #cry. Is that coffin 100% height?

b0ne5: I’ll always remember IE6 as a maverick. It rendered things its own way, even when all the other browsers were conforming to standards. Conforming was not in its lexicon & it refused to bow to pressure to conform to web standards. Shine on you crazy diamond!

Topher Fangio: I just rewrote a good portion of our site, and he (like an old man with thick glasses) didn’t quite see it just right. The images were distorted, and the colors looked a bit faded. Sad to go that way, looking at a bleak and awkward world…

Amos Vryhof: Die you sick twisted bastard!

Chris Shattuck: The one purpose in our existence that seems incontrovertible is that we should work steadily to improve the quality of the lives of our children and children’s children. IE6 had a difficult, highly criticized life and kept mostly to himself, but he was also successful in this one respect.

Transparency was incredibly difficult for him, perhaps because it would expose too much of his pain. But by forging his way in a world where there were no standards (at least that he was aware of), he did the hard work for his progeny, and IE6, 7 and 8 are a testament that from the flawed can emerge a greater perfection (though there’s still room for improvement). And for all his backwards ways, IE6 is still valued by holdouts across the world who rally for the qualities that he was unable to pass successfully onto the next generation. IE6, I salute you and respect your role in my world.

But damn, good riddance.

Internet Explorer 6: Hai guys! Just thought you should know I will be unable to attend… as this page is broken and does not render properly for me.

Death + Popular Culture

Funeral for the Aints

Jazz Funeral to Bury the Aints Nickname
Keith Spera, The Times-Picayune (February 19, 2010)

A short article out of New Orleans caught my mock funeral adoring attention: on Saturday at four, a jazz funeral procession will commence for the no longer relevant nickname, “the Aints.” Saints once more, the NFL team rocked the Superbowl a couple weeks ago. After those celebrations, the homecoming parade proper and of course Mardi Gras, N’awlins is addicted to fun.

Fans are encouraged to bring their old Aints paper bags and place them in a coffin.

…The paper bags being what fans used to wear over their heads at games during particularly dismal seasons. Nice.

Burial cremation Death + Humor Death + the Web Funeral Industry

Video Killed the Cremation Star… or So Suggests Casket Company

Aurora Casket Company Trying to Stop Cremations with Video
R. Brian Burkhardt, YourFuneralGuy (January 25, 2010)

YourFuneralGuy just found a gem: it seems the Aurora Casket Company, one of the big three casket manufacturers in the United States, made a video of a mock funeral for direct cremation, the very villain encroaching on and slowly killing their market.

It’s dry, earnest and, well, pretty awful:

The Death of Direct Cremation from Aurora on Vimeo.

I do applaud the intention — I just hope they’re laughing, too. Whatever some marketing blog or fifteen year old told them, the internet will not save the casket industry… this time.

Death + Popular Culture

Mock Funerals: Performances for Protest, Satire and Social Change

While specific rites and rituals vary across cultures and time, anyone who has been to a few memorial services or even seen them on TV understands funerals. We may not know how to feel about death or the deceased, but we do know how we’re supposed to act.

A funeral, after all, is a performance — and I don’t mean that snidely. There are common and expected settings, props and costumes, with overlapping scenes but well-defined acts. We have roles to play and lines to say and even when we screw up (can’t stop crying! ack, can’t start!), we don’t. Funerals are flexible. Flubs are forgiven. Things mean Stuff, and if all goes as planned, including the unplanned, people walk away changed.

Because we all “get” funerals and know what we’re supposed to get out of them, it’s no small wonder the funeral performance has been subverted and co-opted as a means of social commentary and to express and influence public opinion. Mock funerals have been used throughout history as vehicles for satire, issue awareness, protest and social change.

On November 14, the citizens of Venice held a mock funeral for their city and its dying population, currently below 60,000. The 1993 total was a healthier 74,000; in 1971, the city topped 108,300. The mock funeral on Saturday was an effort to promote awareness of the problem and invigorate Venetian pride.

Take it away, Al Jazeera!

The day before, copping the same culturally understood form, students at Florida State University held a funeral for gay rights and marriage equality complete with a eulogy, funeral procession and mock burial with opening and closing remarks. The demonstration was in reaction to the recent overturn of gay marriage rights in Maine.

Lastly, just before Halloween, a sports bar in Green Bay, Wisconsin, working with a radio station, erected a coffin containing a Brett Favre effigy, encapsulating the “he’s dead to us” emotion Packer fans have felt after quarterback Favre temporarily quit the NFL then signed on with the neighboring arch nemesis, the Vikings. The initial spectacle attracted 500 mourners for the procession, including hearses and pall-bearers, while others came to view the “corpse” over the next couple of days, on display in the corner of the bar.

Mean spirited? Um… yes? The radio station allegedly received death threats for the incident. But satire-too-far aside, as well as the abiding silliness of the whole thing, devoted Packer fans have felt genuine sadness, loss and betrayal about Favre’s defection. Some mourners brought pictures, football cards, and other mementos to place inside the coffin. It’s all part of the gag, but it’s also a familiar way to deal with grief and work through the frustration and pain of someone who is dead — or someone who you wished was, or who feels dead to you anyway.

These three examples are just within the last few weeks; numerous other instances exist, such as mock funerals for the First Amendment or symbolic funerals for aborted fetuses (this latter being slightly different in tone, though still enacted as a form of protest and demonstration). Though varying in intention, mock funerals invariably capture attention, sometimes shockingly. Death as metaphor is one thing; to see it enacted and performed can be moving, disturbing or even infuriating — and because of our cultural familiarity, it works. It’s easy to know what’s going on and how we’re supposed to feel about it — even if we disagree with the issue of contention.

I hoped to do more research on this, to get some historical context and cultural studies input. I found next to nothing on this topic, which surprises me. “Mock funeral” doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page (gasp!). Please comment if you know of any books or articles about this — or give me a grant or book advance and I’ll get right on it.