James Gandolfini, a terrific actor and by all accounts, a great guy, passed away today after suffering a heart attack. That's unimaginably sad news for his family, for his friends, for his fans, for acting and for anyone who hates to see good people taken away too soon. For Amazon though, it was a despicable chance to sell some Sopranos DVDs.
As news spread that Gandolfini had passed, Amazon's Facebook account posted this:
On the surface, it's a sweet and appreciative note to a person who changed the fabric of pop culture and whose face deserves to be on television's Mount Rushmore. But where the Facebook post went wrong was that it insensitively linked to Amazon's DVD product page for Season One of the Sopranos. Like Amazon was capitalizing on death. Like it was a classless promotion. A shameful way to spur sales. A post in absolute poor taste.
Amazon has since deleted the Facebook post but to be honest, it's not like they were completely, absolutely, rot in hell wrong. It was a simple mistake probably made by a too eager social media "maven". It wasn't a blatant everything must go Taco Bell on MLK day-type post. We don't have to suddenly stop shopping at Amazon, it's not like it rudely maneuvers every celebrity's death in order to get a spike in sales. We just all have to be smarter. The rules of social media and things like it are still being written. With how quick things pass through the wire, being sensitive or insensitive over the Internet is like balancing on an invisible line—you're never really sure which side you're even on.
But there's a more right way to do things and there's a less right way to do things. In death, showing your respects and giving family and friends a chance to mourn is more right. Capitalizing off a death with a few DVD bundles sold is, well, less right. Let's not do it again. [Consumerist]