Dottie Rambo Funeral DVDs
Copies are on sale now through June 30. I think this is what most people assumed would be the eventual outcome when the funeral wasn’t streamed online, as is increasingly the practice with sg memorial services these days.
It’s all being handled through the church of Rambo’s daughter, Reba, and Reba’s husband, and unless I’m missing something, this offer seems to be made without any connection to the “official” Dottie Rambo website, run by Rambo Evangelistic Association, the entity under which Rambo toured and sold her product. The Association’s website shouldn’t be confused with this website, which is sort of a shadow or back-up website for the Association’s official website that was overwhelmed at the time of Rambo’s death. For a while, the shadow site appeared to be releasing statements from both Rambo’s family and her manager, but the video is for sale on neither the official website nor the shadow official website, which suggests … well, I dunno what it suggests … it’s all very confusing. But with all due respect to Dottie Rambo’s family and friends, selling the DVD of her funeral seems more than a little tacky.
Before all you Rambo loyalists unload both barrels, hear me out. For people whose family lives have been an openly traded commodity in the entertainment marketplace for decades, it’s doubtless difficult to find ways of mourning that meet the private needs of those closest to the departed, but also provide some way for loyal fans to express their genuine feelings of loss and sadness and appreciation for what an entertainer’s life meant to them.
I also know it’s common place in evangelicalism to call funerals “home-going celebrations.” And though to me the term diminishes the reality of grief and undercuts the importance of formal memorials and other rites of death in the grieving process by implying that we should really be happy instead of sad, that’s just my feeling about it, and people are entitled to grieve however they like. As a child, I remember members of my family would take Polaroids of different ones standing at the head of a dead family member’s open casket at the visitation, and when I tell many of my friends who grew up on coasts or in the north how this was perfectly normal, they are positively mortified. So there are clearly different cultural norms surrounding mourning practices, and what strikes one person as strange or macabre may be to another a customary way to bury the dead.
But when you film a funeral, package it and put a retail price on it, “home-going celebration” sort of starts to sound less like local custom and more like a marketing campaign (a friend with a better memory than mine reminded me that there are echoes in all this of the Kim Greene/Dean Hopper wedding that was recorded and sold … another quasi-public event turned into a marketable product by a family of entertainers).
Proceeds go to a memorial fund in Rambo’s name, and I have no idea who are what is the beneficiary, though it’ s not unreasonable to infer in this DVD offer an appeal to defray funeral costs (Update: see eletter below). There is a raft of emails in my inbox from different people making very different claims about the status of Rambo’s estate at the time of her death. And though I do think once you start commodifying a funeral service the way this DVD does and then offer it for sale in a way that at least implies the money is to offset the expense of the memorial, you do to some extent make an issue of financial information and other details that would normally be not for public consumption, my point is not to suggest anything untoward is going on here.
In fact, I suppose one could argue that there’s no better way to celebrate the open-book life of a singer/songwriter who spent her career turning private experience into salable commodity than to turn her last appearance in this world into a product for public consumption. As I say, one could make that argument, and plenty of people would (and probably do) find it persuasive. I just won’t be one of them.
Update: Here are a few excerpts from an e-letter from Rambo’s family on May 30.
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While literally thousands of you have expressed your love and support, a few have said some very critical and hurtful things to us concerning the way we have shared with you what we’re walking through. Many still believe that because Momma looked like and sounded like a million dollars every time she stepped on a stage or in front of a TV camera, she must have had millions in the bank so that a moment like this would come and go with little or no need for assistance… And the truth is… Mom was, and is, one of the wealthiest people this planet has ever known. But her wealth was not in dollars… Her wealth was, and is, in the millions of people in the world whom she called “Dottie’s Dearest” and they loved her as family.
That’s true wealth!
Though hard for some to believe, Momma Dottie lived a very simple life. Because of the physical challenges she endured the past two decades, the medical bills basically drained her of her life savings and resources. Those physical challenges caused her to be dropped from her medical coverage years ago, and ever since, she has had the distinction of being tagged “uninsurable”… Needless to say, in a moment like this, that increases the challenges. But we, collectively as a family, are meeting the challenges head on and not running from them.
For those who have questioned why we would make her Home-Going service available by creating a DVD or allow it to be aired on Christian TV, please allow me to respond… In no way are we attempting to capitalize on Mom’s home-going by making a commercial piece of product that will be stocked on the shelves of stores across our nation for years to come. It will only be available through our office until June 30, 2008. What we were, and are, attempting to do, is share the moment with thousands of precious people who couldn’t make the journey to honor and celebrate her life the way we were blessed to do.
So, yes, there will be a DVD in a few days… a full 2 hours and 22 minutes of anointed music and ministry. Perhaps not the best quality video you’ll ever view, but it’s put together in a very simple and elegant way that reflects the classiness of the lady we call, “Mom.” Because so many have requested copies of the program from her Home-Going service which includes her obituary, we have included it in the beautiful artwork for the DVD. It will hopefully fulfill our desire to get you as close to this great celebration as you possibly could be without being there.
We are making this DVD available to everyone who has felt the weight of this moment and sent in a gift of $15 or more honoring Mom to the Dottie Rambo Memorial Fund.
We believe God will bless you for your giving, and He will also give us the ability to care for any area of financial responsibility that remains.