For the past month, I have seen a dead man pitching products on TV. No, I’m not talking about a promo for some horror movie or show. These are real commercials selling real products. The dead man is, of course, Billy Mays. Obviously, he was not dead when the commercials were filmed, but he is dead now.
Interestingly, seeing movies that have dead actors in them has never given me that feeling. I wondered a bit about this, and I think that the difference is that Mays is appearing as himself in the commercials. While he might be playing a role, it is him there selling the product. In the case of the movies, the dead actor was playing a role, thus creating sort of a psychological buffer. To be specific, the character that the dead actor played has a virtual life of its own (and perhaps even virtual death) and continues to exist as a fictional being. In contrast, it is just Billy Mays, the dead man, whose recorded image is still pitching products. There is no buffer, no fictional being. Just someone I know is dead. Hence, the creepy feeling.