Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #321: Michael Jackson Is Dead, Alas

I managed to avoid the almost non-stop live coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial service, but unless I am willing to move to a cave in Uzbekistan, I just can't escape hearing at least some of the tidbits. The coverage of the memorial scored about 31 million viewers in the USA, a few million less than the last funeral given such coverage, the memorial for Ronald Reagan in 2004.

But I'm not here to talk about ratings, instead I'm going to tell you what I think the memorial told me about Michael Jackson the man and the world he lived in. And I've made a couple of lists...


1. His coffin was GOLD PLATED. Yep, a solid bronze coffin, plated in 14k gold. I'm sorry, but even an 18th century French market would look at that crate and think it was ostentatious and went beyond the line of tacky, to the realm of just plain nutty.

2. People are criticizing the family for putting his young children out on stage to somehow defend their father to wider world.

3. Many of the speakers went beyond telling the world about his success as an entertainer, but instead declared him the
greatest entertainer who ever lived, and giving him credit for things like the election of Barack Obama, which occurred about 20 years after his last major hit album.

4. Many of the same "friends and associates" are now trying to squeeze something for themselves out of his death, from his former personal videographer/manager (and former gay porn producer) selling insider tidbits to the highest bidder, and even Barbara Walters, ignoring the wishes of the grieving family to score some illicit footage with a spy camera.

5. The family is supposedly arguing over where to bury him. Some want him in Neverland, hoping to make it some sort of Graceland type theme park, while others want him buried someplace else where he could rest in peace, and not be part of a package tour, two-bits a gander.


1. I associate waste with Michael Jackson. Wasted potential, wasted talent, a thousand wasted opportunities, and millions in wasted dollars. What purpose does this coffin serve other than to promote some sort of image of Jacko as a mad wasteful royal wannabe, and giving the mutant grave-robbers of our post-apocalyptic future something worth stealing after society totally collapses in 2059? Like just about everything in Jackson's life, there were a million better things that could have been done with those resources, but those things weren't done for reasons that really don't make any rational sense.

2. Personally, I think those kids have enough baggage to deal with, and making them part of the on-stage circus just strikes me as exploitative. Of course exploiting and emotionally scarring children is a Jackson family tradition, and that's according to Michael himself.

3. This shows the tendency to glorify the man way beyond his accomplishments. He had a lot of hits, and one ultra-mega-hit album with
Thriller, but his career really didn't have the longevity or artistic adaptability necessary for supreme greatness in entertainment. Everything he did after-Thriller was pretty much indistinguishable from Thriller, with the addition of extreme plastic surgery and crotch grabbing to his repertoire. Also the rush to sanctify Jackson was pretty much a slap in the face of people like Martin Luther King, and the other African Americans who did way more than him, with apparently a lot less appreciation.

He was a great entertainer, his past success showed that, but he wasn't the greatest, and while he did a lot, he didn't change the world in the ways these people claim. And let's not forget how many of these same people wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole when his sales were in the tank and he was being accused of child molestation. Like Jackson's life, and Hollywood itself, there's no restraint, and a bloated sense of importance.

4. Too many of the people who claimed friendship with Jackson are now trying to profit from him, and his death. It tells us a lot about the nature of fame and personal relationships. He used his personal relationships to get attention, and henceforth profit, and they in turn try to use their relationship with him for profit.

5. Everything associated with Jackson always seems to end in an argument, and usually in litigation. It's only a matter of time before the lawyers get involved, and then things will get really ugly, and no one involved will be safe.

Of course the big lesson of all this is that Jackson wasn't just an entertainer, he, and his memorial, was the embodiment of Hollywood itself. The wasting of potential & talent, the exploitation of innocent people, the overweening self-importance and ego at the expense of reality, the sleazy and corrupt nature of personal relationships, and even in death, everything ends in arguments and inevitable litigation.

He could have been a movie studio.


  1. from what I hear, with the record sales that MJ's death is producing is enough to pay for that coffin by the time i get done writing this comment

  2. Maybe it's my Scots heritage, but to me it doesn't matter if his estate can afford it, or if AEG can afford it, or if Warren Buffet paid for it with the loose change from between his couch cushions. It's still a waste in my eyes.

    It's ostentation without purpose for a box that's supposed to go into the ground. It's like J. Edgar Hoover having himself buried in a stainless steel and lead coffin designed to survive a nuclear attack. Sure, the FBI had the budget to afford it, but that doesn't make it right.

  3. Claiming Jacko helped the election of Obama is stretching it. I like the total absurd hypocrasy of the entire thing. 10 years ago Latoya was on Geraldo calling Michael a pervert now she is singing his praises.

    There are two things I can give him credit for, he made music that had a appeal across racial lines and he pretty much set the standard for music videos.