Hey you guys,

I was at the office recently and Keith asked if I wanted the second season "Flavor Of Love" DVD. "What are you talking about? All the members of Public Enemy died in 1994 before they could soil their legacy with degrading reality shows." I replied

What I was getting at is that for every Martin Scorsese or Robert Altman who continues cranking out great movies well into their golden years there are dozens, if not hundreds, of musicians, writers or filmmakers who live long enough to devolve into grotesque caricatures of themselves.

Take Woody Allen. If he'd died in 1992 after making "Husbands And Wives" he'd be revered as a genius gagsmith who matured slowly but surely into a master filmmaker whose heady, cerebral films wrestled with profound moral and philosophical issues.

But Allen didn't die in 1992. And the stunning work ethic that fueled his 70s and 80s heyday became his undoing. He became an autopilot auteur cranking out a terrible-to-mediocre movie every fucking year (Sweet & Lowdown excluded). Critics and audiences that once swooned over the prospect of a new Allen movie came to dread Allen's new releases or at least view them with the trainwreck fascination of someone watching a 46-year-old Rickey Henderson play for a minor league team. Of course "Everything Else" doesn't make "Annie Hall" any less of a masterpiece. But fourteen years of "Everything Else"'s have seriously degraded Allen's once formidable legacy.

Similarly, Flavor Flav's disastrous second act as a reality TV sideshow has largely usurped his P.E legacy. I think most kids today know Flav as the jackass from VH-1, not an integral part of one of the greatest, most important groups of all time.

At the risk of sounding morbid I think every celebrity has an Ideal Iconic Death Age (or IIDA if you're into the whole brevity thing), a year when their passing would have the most iconic resonance. Many of these IIDA fall somewhere in the mid-twenties, when artists are old enough to have laid down a formidable body of work but too young to stumble into the countless self-destructive professional traps that come with insane amounts of money and success (like degrading reality shows or endorsements). Kurt Cobain's IIDA for example was 27. James Dean's was 24. 2Pac's was 25.

A general rule of thumb is that the longer a celebrity lives, the less iconic they become, which is why our pantheon of pop icons is filled with beautiful young men and women who lived fast and died young. I could go on and on (and usually do) but I'd rather throw it to you, my beloved readers. What do you think is the IIDA for your favorite star and why?

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