Strange days indeed, huh?
Like (I imagine) most people, I have some mildly conflicting feelings about Michael Jackson’s death. I do respect the impact he had on pop music and nobody with at least one good ear can tell me his 70’s-80’s output wasn’t awesome. But I’m not terribly broken up by the death of – come on, let’s face facts here – a child molester. Or, if you would like to ignore the many horrible accounts to come out of his civil trial and just focus on the documentaries of the 90’s, at the very least a deeply disturbed man no parent in their right mind would allow their child to spend unsupervised time with.
But mostly, I feel some sense of relief, both for the ultimate legacy of the man, and my own mental health for not having to sit through what would have been next sad phase of Jackson’s life – the one where he ends up penniless and friendless, pathetically attempting comeback after diminishing comeback.
Because anyone who opened up a web browser or turned on cable TV today can agree, we would’ve seen every damn detail. The one thing media enjoys more than celebrities is celebrities in the decline. If you don’t believe me, do a quick Google image search of Peter Falk and tell me his disheveled, alzheimers-afflicted self running down the street isn’t on the first results page.
I consider it a point of pride that I’ve never seen an episode of “Jon and Kate Plus All Their Poor Therapy-Junkies-In-Waiting,” but it’s impossible in this day and age to avoid somehow absorbing the ongoing drama. Even if I hadn’t recently been over a friend’s house during what turned into a marathon viewing of E! (thank god, at least, for “The Soup” – and I’m convinced the E!xecutives have no sense of irony, that they allow that show to air on their network), I would’ve taken in the details against my will the last time I waited in line for a prescription at CVS and had to stare at rack after rack of tabloids filling me in (either I look at that, or I look at Ryan Reynolds on, like, “Men’s Health” and wonder if maybe he’s hitting the gym a little too much).
It is virtually impossible to dodge events in the so-called pop-culture sphere, whether you give a damn or not.
Now, the story of Michael Jackson’s death isn’t over yet – 50-year-old men don’t just have heart attacks and die (except when they do). Expect a lot of further uncomfortable investigations into the cause of death, and brace yourselves for the worst. Because the media will happily tell you alllll about it. Remember how bad you felt when you heard David Carradine hung himself? Remember how weird you felt when it trickled out that the hanging was accidental, and part of a (needlessly elaborate, I should think) auto-asphyxiation scenario?
Just…pace your emotions, is all I’m saying. There’s still plenty of time for this to get strange. It is, after all, Michael Jackson we’re dealing with here, and it’d be ironic (in a completely acceptable sort of way, I hope) if his death turned out to be mundane.
Ultimately, searching my feelings, this is what I got: how shitty is it that Farrah Fawcett died the same day as Michael Jackson? Any other day of the year, tributes to her career (such as it was) and battle with cancer would’ve dominated cable programming for days. But by 5pm this afternoon, her death was already a B-story to a “bigger” celebrity death.
I don’t really believe in any kind of afterlife where a consciousness remains, so I can’t imagine she really gives a shit, but still. Seems unfair, in the cosmic sense, to live your life in the public eye and not even count on your death to be the top story for more than six hours.
Also: I was at a wedding last weekend, and when the DJ took a final request, the dance floor happily shouted for “Thriller.” And that was the last time I’ll be able to dance to that song (badly, at that – I could never get the lurch/clawed-hand combo down) without that vague, “Oh, he’s dead now isn’t that sad” vibe. Or, alternatively, without someone on the floor making a bad joke about a Michael Jackson zombie.
I can at least promise that it won’t be me.