Monday, July 6, 2009

The Media Canonization of Michael Jackson – For Their Own Benefit

Enough of the Michael Jackson coverage. Enough.

The media, who was quick to vilify Michael Jackson during his trial for child (sexual) abuse years ago, has now gone in the other direction, giving constant coverage to his recent death, portraying him as a near saint.

There is an unwritten rule that one should not speak ill of the dead. The media, in this case, has gone almost overboard to follow this rule, covering Michael’s musical accomplishments and life as if he were a god, and wiping away any of the other “strangeness” that permeated his life. For me, I rarely follow silly rules.

Michael Jackson was a talented entertainer. Yet to me it seemed clear he was troubled. His bizarre Neverland ranch with its carnival rides and super-secure bedroom with a tiny secret room in his closet, his constant cosmetic surgery, his now apparent drug abuse – all seem to be signs that this was a man who needed mental help. He appeared to have been surrounded by sycophants and “yes men” who had no power or desire to get help for this seemingly troubled man. I suppose as long as Michael Jackson was making money for them, no one wanted to rock the boat.

The media never hesitated in the past to cover the strange life of Jackson. But now, because it can bring them more viewers, the media is ignoring the past and going overboard in praise to Jackson in his death, in effect fueling the desire for people to attend his memorial. So many people want to attend the memorial at the Staples center; over a million had registered for tickets, yet fewer than 9,000 people could be selected. The city of LA is concerned that many people will still descend on the area in order to be a part of the memorial and that chaos may ensue. If course, the big television media outlets are sending some of their top people to cover “THE EVENT” because, after all, they want it to be a big deal. It would mean more viewers. It will also give the media another chance to canonize Jackson into entertainment sainthood.

I will admit that, at one time, Michael Jackson was a pivotal entertainer who was hugely popular. But in all honesty I can’t think of one piece of music that he has done in many years that is memorable. In fact, the music industry seemingly has passed him by long ago. Maybe, like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson had his core group of die-hard followers who, through thick and thin, thought he was still a superstar. And these are the people to which the media will cater for now. Likewise, I suspect that Michael’s family could very well be working behind the scenes right now to find a way to milk the fans’ love for Michael for years to come, with the media speculating that Neverland will be a destination for fans just as Graceland is for the fans of Elvis. Even in death, people can find a way to make a buck.

But give the media time. After the “king of pop" is buried, the media will turn their attention to the seedy side of Michael Jackson’s life and begin to expose it and tear it apart. After all, a person can’t be canonized as a saint until the devil’s advocate has his/her turn. Based on what has already been exposed and/or speculated about Michael in the past, the media will have many months of even more coverage. It’s sad really, with all the things going on in the world that this death seems to occupy so much of the media’s time. What they may not realize is that while people are talking about Jackson's death, many people I encounter comment that they are tired of the story already and they want the media to move on. And they will, after they have played their devil’s advocate role and squeezed out every last drop of the story. For me, while I extend my sympathies to Michael’s family on his death, I won’t be spending any time mourning him or glorifying him – or watching any of his memorial coverage on TV. There are more important things – and people – in my life that are more deserving of the attention.

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1 comment:

samfan said...

Great post! I completely agree, I was in LA when he died and it was crazy! People were going insane, and the media coverage was intolerable, I seriously didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world.