Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson

It has only been 48 hours and already I feel like I am in Michael Jackson purgatory. I’ve heard the 911 call dozens of times. I know the coroner’s preliminary results. I know the family has request a second autopsy. I know what time Janet arrived at the house. I know the children’s mother may get custody. I know the nanny may get custody. Will this ever end?
Michael Jackson had talent. At one time he had a great deal of talent, but that was a long time ago. His greatest claim to fame in the last two decades is that he was possibly the weirdest person on Earth. Next to Jackson, Herbert Khaury (Tiny Tim) was merely a bit odd.

Mark Steyn writes:

For a while, the weirdness exercised a global fascination. The prestigious Oxford Union invited him to address their members, and Michael Jackson flew in to Britain wearing his trademark surgical mask, a wise move considering the country was then in the grip of Mad Cow Disease. On an official tour of Blenheim Palace, which must have been a bit of a comedown after Neverland, they rolled out the red carpet, but he insisted it be heavily disinfected, and it squelched under his crutch. Crutch, not crotch. Due to some domestic mishap, he was grabbing the former rather than the latter. At Oxford, he called on the world to adopt his Children’s Bill of Rights, including “the right to be thought adorable” and “the right to be listened to without having to be interesting”. The right to a $30 million out-of-court settlement, won by a 13-year old former playmate of his, was not mentioned.

And there’s Jonah Goldberg discussing the media’s insistence that Jackson was an “icon”:

“Love him or hate him,” the implied logic went, “he was an ‘icon.’"

Yes, well, maybe so. But that doesn’t let you off the hook. Even though the term sounds neutral, it isn’t. An icon, technically speaking, is a religious symbol deserving of reverence and adoration. The networks may not have intended to use the word that way, but they certainly showed an unseemly amount of reverence and adoration for the man.

I think part of it is the narcissism of our celebrity culture. Here was a guy so many of “us” read about in People magazine for so long. His passing, therefore, isn’t a loss in the sorrowful sense of the word, but in the selfish one. It’s a loss of an interesting subject, a creature to gossip about and to fill a few minutes on E! or Entertainment Tonight.

Since at least 1993, Michael Jackson was less a talented entertainer and more a real life creepy Willy Wonka. The Johnny Depp version. This story won’t be over any time soon. Next will be the fight over his kids, his money, his songs and his “image”. It is a shame.

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