But wait, there’s no more.
Joking about Billy Mays’ non-stop pitchmanship so soon after his death might seem in questionable taste, but it’s no less appropriate than the decision made by Media Enterprises, marketer of the Mighty line of products, including Mighty Putty, Mighty Mendit and Mighty Tape, to release the last infomercials that Mays shot after a “one-week respite” to honor his death.
Wow, one week! How did they decide on that? Has the buffer zone been reduced, because infomercial time is like Internet time? It hardly seems like the ultimate sacrifice.
Of course, with Michael Jackson’s funeral, essentially sponsored by Land Rover and Versace, it’s hard to keep up with all the death and opportunism in celebrity news lately. Earlier, I did see photos of Mays’ pallbearers all dressed in his signature blue shirt and khaki pants. I had to laugh — they were obviously doing it to honor a guy they loved. But it was the first “theme” funeral I’ve seen — come dressed as the brand
But that was nothin’ compared with the sight of Tito, Marlon, Jackie, Jermaine and Randy Jackson at their brother’s funeral, each wearing a single white-beaded glove, jumping right back on the Jackson money train. (And separately, there was Corey Feldman, arrayed in his ’80s Jackson-wear, including hat and jacket with epaulettes, to thrust himself back in the news.)
Even though Mays was one of those celebrities who had the misfortune to die a few days after Jackson (and it is weird that they were both 50), he was a distinct and beloved personality. The reality is that his fans will want to see his final spots air, and the timing of Discovery’s showing of “Pitchmen” only adds to his mystique. Given what Mays did, he was about the most commercial brand there is, and his family will continue to get royalties from the spot, so I’m really not knocking it. Pitching products in 120 seconds or less was Mays’ art form, and he was great at it. It’s not like they’re trying to sell commemorative pieces of putty enclosed in lucite. (I’m sure something that tacky will eventually turn up, however.) But perhaps Media Enterprises didn’t need to announce that they waited a week — which sounds lame and only begs more questions — but rather that they released the spot after much deliberation.
So let’s look at the tape for Mighty Tape. It opens with his trademark line, “Billy Mays here for Mighty Tape!” — and that comes as something of a comfort. (“Seals, repairs and saves you money!”) It’s certainly one of his more dramatic, higher budget spots. It’s not exactly Jason Bourne action, but there is a point where he leaves the studio for a boat. The drama at the end is that our pitchman, in full scuba gear underwater, is still identifiable by his black beard, helping a swimmer by taping his “punctured air hose to safely bring the diver back from the ocean depths.”
The danger scenario seems eerie, and makes me sad. “Now that’s Mighty Tape to the rescue,” Billy Mays booms.
There is a twinge factor in the rescue part that makes the whole thing seem more poignant — or maudlin — than normal. You can’t help but think too bad there’s no Mighty Tape for a damaged heart.
So R.I.P. Billy Mays. He was a mighty pitchman. His work deserves to live on. So in the end, in a weird way, the line atop this piece is wrong — there is more.