My Twitter stream was awash in updates on the Michael Jackson memorial event on Tuesday and Facebook was only slightly less nauseating. I have not made my distaste for Jackson a secret and while I am sorry for his family, children and whatever real friends he might have had, I am puzzled about the Princess Diana send-off (her funeral frenzy puzzled me at the time too).
Michael Jackson was a has-been. He peaked in the 80’s and destroyed, willfully it appeared, his celebrity and ability to live off his glory years with behaviors that ranged from completely out of touch with reality to criminal at worst/just plain immature and stupid at best. In addition to his “eccentricities”, he was a scam artist who died hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to people and lending institutions he strung along with visions of a comeback since the mid-90’s. So how does an alleged drug addict whose best years were squandered in a materialistic quest to undo his “horrific” childhood rate a send-off fit for a king? Even a king of something of questionable worth like “pop”?
My personal opinion is that his family is being manipulated into participating in a great advertising con which will benefit them some and others a lot more. I also think that if the world weren’t in the grips of the worst economic downturn in the living memories of most, his passing wouldn’t have rated more than a “meh”.
Someone on my Facebook feed commented after the BET tribute to MJ that it seemed to her that the performers were there for themselves and not particularly broken up about the reason behind the performance. I didn’t see the memorial. We have thankfully not only stopped watching television but dropped our cable subscription as well, but I wonder who among the celebrity performers – actors, actresses and the like – was there for personal sentiment and not as photo op or notch for their CV?
The week Will died, the son of a prominent local family died of a drug overdose. I think it may have been a suicide but regardless, he’d had a troubled adulthood. As a teen he was a heralded tennis champion, but like many he peaked in the junior leagues and flopped trying to break onto the world scene. His sister was teaching at the same high school I was at the time though I wouldn’t have known her from a brick wall.
Will’s death rated an overpriced blurb on the obituary page. The newspaper only allowed a twitterish amount of character space for free and anything beyond “he’s dead” was at the family’s expense. This former junior tennis star with the wealthy successful father rated a front page story. His personal failures were downgraded with a heapful of sympathy and his squandered potential as a human being lamented. It pissed me off at the time and still rankles when things like the MJ memorial come up. I am still uncertain that “fame” or family connections or “talent” make one person worth more than another when all is said and done.
There are undoubtedly many, many other families laying loved ones to rest this week. People who’s passing will be barely noted by the world that came most closely in contact with them, forget the wider one. People whose characters weren’t questionable. People who didn’t use their bad childhoods as excuses to avoid growing up. People who manned up and took care of their debts to others. People who believed that respect, money, career, etc. is earned and not an entitlement.
I feel sorry for his mother. I feel for his children, his daughter especially who tried to defend him in her own little girl way, but I don’t think he merited the fuss and I am not looking forward to his “Elvis has left the building” period that is sure to come.