I wasn't going to post anything about the untimely passing of Michael Jackson. It's not about politics; it's sad and tragic when anyone dies suddenly at age 50; I did like some of his music; and I appreciate how clever and inventive he was (at one time) in making the most of the then-new medium of music videos.
But enough is enough. We're well into Day Six of all-Michael-all-the-time news coverage that saturates the networks, cable news, radio, papers, magazines and the Web -- and they're is no end in sight, as breaking news about his will, the paternity of his children, the maternity of his children, the autopsy, the other autopsy, the doctor, the investigation, the many possibilities planned or not planned for the funeral and/or public memorials, and of course, the Jackson family.
All the while, the distraught fans troop to and from Neverland, the Apollo Theater, MJ's boyhood home in Gary, and every other place with an association, however attenuated, with the self-titled "King of Pop." One typical fan I saw on the tube, a 30-something white woman who drove from Tennessee toting a 4-5-year-old girl to hang around Neverland until she was interviewed on TV, saying that she wanted to pay her respects and make sure her daughter saw this "history." So the outpouring of fan grief is what makes this so newsworthy, right? Maybe, except for the fact that we'll never know how many fans gather at these makeshift memorials due to heartfelt grief and how many because they know the TV cameras will be there. Doesn't the presence of dozens of reporters and cameras certify this as a big deal (or "history")? Isn't the "fan" response much like that of demonstrators who start chanting slogans when the TV cameras run?
And then there are the over-the-top encomiums. Naturally, no one beat Al Sharpton in this department (or in managing to milk the event to shine the light of publicity on his humble self). Rev. Al told the throng at the Apollo that The Gloved One had broken race barriers as a "crossover" act (i.e., a Black performer who appeals to white people), thus paving the way for countless others in the entertainment world and even President Obama!
Huh? Didn't that trailblazing crossover happen in the 1950s and 1960s with Sammy Davis, Jr., Ertha Kitt, Johnny Mathis, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and a host of others in pop and rock music (many far more talented than the "King")? In fact, dozens of African-American singers, actors and comedians were household names for people of all races across America before many people knew much about Michael Jackson. While MJ performed with The Jackson Five back in 1968, he did not become a star as a single by any standard until the late 1970s. So what is Rev. Al talking about?
Most of this is foolish blather. On-air talking heads now refer to MJ softly as having been "eccentric" or "sometimes controversial." I'll say he was "eccentric" -- if that means bleaching your skin and undergoing plastic surgery to alter the racial aspect of your face, always talking in a falsetto voice, keeping a pet chimpanzee, pretending you're Peter Pan in your 40s, reportedly ordering up children through surrogate mothers without even contributing the sperm, dangling one of them as a baby over a balcony edge, paying two guys to walk alongside you in public holding umbrellas over your head to shield you from the sun like Pharoah, and sharing your bed with small boys, among many, many, wierd and creepy things.
The Jackson saga will go on, and on, and on, I'm afraid. But the next few chapters may be less appealing to the fans and others, although everything is grist for the media mill. The family members, the ex-"wife", and others are lawyering up, with MJ's will and the fate of Jackson's estate, potentially a huge cash cow for years to come, at stake. Sadly, the three children may become pawns in a brawl over MJ's money. Then, the medical examiner will report what happened to Jackson, and even if the findings are supposedly private, they will leak in detail, and god knows what we'll find out.
In the end, it might be better for Michael Jackson and his family (certainly his kids) and even his true fans if there were more modesty and a sense of regard for propriety about his passing. Give the man and decent burial, and let him rest in peace.
What do you think? Post a comment.