Monday, June 09, 2008

Martin Kelly

I imagine that I'm not alone in having vanity search alerts set up for my name. I set this up originally when I was on the WMF's Communications Committee and would occasionally interface with the press, so that I'd be a bit more aware of where a particular contact has spread. Of course, since my name is the same as the program coordinator for one of New Zealand's TV stations, a tech writer for, and countless other semi-interesting people, not to mention very similar to a well-known actress and part of the names of a well-known writer and the CEO of a well-known pharmaceuticals company, there are a lot of false hits.

The most recent spate of false hits, though, is for Martin Kelly, who was apparently a famous British plastic surgeon in London. I'd never heard of him, but I don't pay much attention to celebrity matters. It seems that his wife was a TV star of some sort. He apparently recently died, unexpectedly, of a heart condition. Death tends to increase one's visibility to the media, at least for a short time, and apparently also on search engines; Google Webmaster Tools tells me that "martin kelly" is the number 2 most common search term matching my blog in the past week, just below "kelly martin" and just above "illinois toll road".

The articles I've seen about Dr. Kelly suggest that he was a generous person well-regarded for his humanitarianism. Plastic surgeons who do cosmetic procedures tend to make a ridiculous amount of money off their commercial practices, and it is quite common for this demographic to offer the reconstructive aspect of their skill for free, especially to children. (For example, virtually nobody has had to pay for a cleft palate reconstruction in recent memory, due to the widespread generosity of reconstructive surgeons.) So the question for me is whether Dr. Kelly is merely ordinary, or actually extraordinary, in his generosity in this regard.

The main thing about this that interested me is how drawn out the media coverage of his passing has been. I assume this is because of his celebrity status and, perhaps more so, because of the celebrity status of his widow. I'm sure many other doctors have died in the days since May 20th; I imagine at least some of them were at least as generous as he was. None of them have garnered this much media attention. Why does Hollywood and its periphery merit so much attention? Perhaps a hint of the reason can be found here.