WATCH | In a year filled with notable celebrity deaths, Bill Murray remains alive and well. Yet outside Con Artist Collective in New York last week, a sign proclaimed, "R.I.P. Bill Murray." The gallery was filled with artwork celebrating the actor's life and his career as if he had died.
The inspiration for the show stemmed from the many tribute shows that are often held following the death of a celebrity. "We were trying to figure out if we wanted to do a Prince or David Bowie show tribute, but it had kind of been done a lot," explained Brandon Wisecarver, the general manager for Con Artist Collective.
During their brainstorming session, artist Wizard Skull brought up the slightly morbid idea to instead prepare for the death of a still-alive celebrity, suggesting Bill Murray.
"Murray is probably the only dude with a sense of humor to appreciate [the show] and not be offended or threatened," said Wisecarver.
The internet's unique, cult-like obsession with Murray has been well-documented and investigated time and time again. His acting surely plays a role in his popularity, as well as his iconic roles in movies like "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters." But it's also in part due to Murray's quirky personality and his amusing habit of crashing random parties or stealing a stranger's French fries.
Con Artist Collective invited fans to "come pay [their] respects."
By pretending that Bill Murray passed away, Con Artist Collective is making a statement about the culture surrounding the deaths of celebrity icons and the general tendency to wait until they're gone before fully expressing our love for them.
We all saw plenty of "R.I.P. Prince" social media posts, and they often came from those who never mentioned the singer when he was still alive. Why is there such a strong desire to publicly share in our grief but not in our fondness for a living celebrity? Why not have a tribute show for Bill Murray now?
"I've always been a big Bill Murray fan," said artist Nick McManus. "I lived a real 'Groundhog Day.' The school that I went to, whenever it rained, they'd just play 'Groundhog Day' forever. It was that and two other movies for five years."
McManus displayed a Polaroid from a dinner at Bill Murray's son's Brooklyn restaurant. When leaving the restaurant that night, he ran into Bill Murray's son but mistook him for the bassist of a friend's band. "He actually knew the band I was talking about, but he just said, 'Nah.' My friends never let me live it down," said McManus.
Like McManus, artist Shana Pederson loves Bill Murray and was immediately drawn to the theme of the show.
"With everything that's going on in the world right now, it's nice to just have fun with a theme, instead of it being sad, like celebrities actually dying," she said. Her piece was an illustration of Murray as a zombie, inspired by the actor's cameo in "Zombieland."
But if Bill Murray actually died? "He better come back as a zombie," Pederson said.
Bill Murray is gonna die one day and that just breaks my damn heart— Trevor Shelton™ (@JustMeTrev) December 15, 2016
Yep, us too. Can we all just agree that he'll never actually die?