We probably should have seen this coming. Think about all the mysterious websites devoted to spreading larger-than-life tales about his life. Bill Murray been called the Internet's "Holy Fool," someone who transcends the trappings of typical stardom. Even when a story is not about him, like say one about a despicable pharmaceutical creep buying an impossibly rare Wu-Tang Clan album for $2 million, it becomes about him. That can't just be coincidence or magic, can it?
He's the "nation's greatest treasure," "just the greatest," and both "the best person alive" and "the coolest human being alive" Everyone on the Internet has been indoctrinated into the cult without even drinking any Kool-Aid.
We ignore his imperfections and fuck-ups because he represents something more than his physical being now; the Times recently grappled with this in a piece about his ascent to "secular saint," noting that his visage "now rivals James Dean, Elvis Presley and Albert Einstein in image appropriated bric-a-brac." People are "strangely moved" to make (and purchase) Murray prayer candles because...well, because Murray "symbolizes nothing short of 'humanity.'" And once we start projecting the weight of humanity on one man's incredibly glib shoulders, it's bound to have an effect on him.
The New Yorker described him as "radically available, and yet unknowable," which certainly sounds like a cult of personality a.k.a. L Ron Hubbard. He has a 1-800 phone number that also creates a veil of availability. And he's been going out of his way to recruit younger disciples to continue spreading his philosphy.
And so we come to this week in Morocco, when Murray made an appearance at the Marrakesh International Film Festival. He was there ostensibly to promote his recent (and critically-maligned) film Rock The Kasbah (which was shot there), but the event, like so many others he is invited to, turned into a Murray celebration. He was honored with a career tribute presented by Sofia Coppola, and then he visited Marrakech’s Jemaa El Fna Square, where he presented an outdoor screening of Ghostbusters.
I work for a website about NYC, and we write almost exclusively about NYC events and personalities. There's no reason I should be getting sent emails about a movie screening in Marrakesh. And yet, I was sent the below clip of "an enthusiastic crowd of 20,000 Moroccans" losing their fucking shit for Murray, along with a compendium of quotes from his speech that only confirm my suspicions that this was the first official Bill Murray cult gathering.
"We are all here, we all came from God, every one of us is a manifestation, each and every man and woman here on the planet is a manifestation of God and to that end we must all work," Murray said, presumably before introducing his five-point plan for fixing the world's ills through dissemination of Murray prayer candles. "I’ll go further to say that I’m here because I love this country and I love these people and I love the best part of me ― which is when I love other people. I hope that you will share with me that wish to do our very best to live under that grace of love."
Just watch the clip below and try to tell me Murray couldn't buy a Greek island and bring his followers to live in peace and tranquility there.
Anyway, if I'm right about all this, Mitch Glazer is definitely the first apostle.