Thursday, November 24, 2011

Twenty years before Freddie’s death, November 24th was an anniversary of a different kind

One is famous for giving and the other for taking. 

On November 24th, 1971, Dan (D.B.) Cooper, an American aboard Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 hijacked the plane, pocketed $200,000 in ransom money, donned a parachute, and jumped into the history books as one of the most popular unsolved crimes in America.

On November 24th, 1991, Freddie Mercury died less than 24 hours after the world learned he had AIDS.

For the twenty years between Cooper’s escape and the end of Mercury’s life, one could assume Cooper spent the $200,000 on Queen collectibles over those two decades.

That would explain why no one has heard from him. Like a crazed fan, he no doubt isolated himself in a remote cabin the American Pacific Northwest and immersed himself in a mystery more far-reaching than his own . . . how Farrokh Bulsara, born in East Africa, rose to become arguably the most celebrated Asian entertainer in popular culture. 

A quick look at their Facebook pages shows their relative popularity in contemporary terms:

Sure, Freddie kicks Cooper’s ass in Likes and people talking about them, but what about their respective popularity across the entire Internet? Here are some statistics I managed to pull from a variety of search engines:

  Mercury Cooper
Alexa (web traffic) 1,096 23
AltaVista (web search) 10,100,000 1,890,000
Bing (web search) 9,060,000 1,620,000
Blinkx (videos) 44,000 88
BlogScope (blogs) 626 284
BTJunkie (bit torrent items) 152 0
Gigablast (web search) 151,302 10,746
GOO (Japanese search) 2,440,000 194,000
Google (web search) 18,500,000 1,350,000
Google Books 23,800 24,800
HotBot (web search) 10,100,000 1,920,000
IceRocket (blogs) 11,061 717
IsoHunt (bit torrent items) 734 45
Lycos (web search) 10,100,000 1,920,000
OMGILI (forums) 832 33
REDIFF (Indian search) 1,510,000 258,000
Technorati (blogs) 7 0
The Find (shopping) 2,329 130
The Pirate Bay (bit torrent items) 65 0
Torrentz (bit torrent items) 127 3
Yahoo (web search) 8,660,000 1,650,000
YouTube (videos) 86,200 734

Again, no contest. One stat is not like the others, though . . . Google Books. Cooper is referenced in a thousand more books than Mercury, which is curious. Is it the nature of Cooper’s fame that has generated more written discourse and scholarly debate about what happened? I suppose if Cooper had twenty years of creative output and public spectacle like Mercury, we might see his Internet numbers correspond to his increased digital presence.

Nonetheless, for a guy whose identity is limited to a couple of FBI drawings and the evidence of his crime being a few bundles of $20 bills found in a river, he’s managed to generated an inordinate amount of cult-like attention. The likelihood that he died from the jump is the official FBI opinion, although his case has remained opened all of these years and the recent discovery of a French Canadian comic book that describes how a character named Dan Cooper hijacks a plane and absconds with ransom money has reignited the interest in his cold case after 40 years.

One other interesting parallel exists between Cooper and Mercury and that is a legacy of copycats. Cooper inspired at least 15 similar hijackings — nothing to be proud of, I’m afraid — but Freddie kicks Cooper’s ass here, too, with those countless musicians, singers, and performers he’s inspired.

Although I like the tune, it’s too bad Freddie didn’t write a song based on D.B. Cooper instead of Leroy Brown. If he did, November 24th would then be that much more aligned between the two individuals.


No comments:

Post a Comment