Friday, June 26, 2009

The death of a disco dancer

So, Michael Jackson died today. He was 50 years old, but his nose was only 8.

The news has been going crazy about it, as though nobody has ever died in the history of ever. NBC canceled their kinda-funny Thursday night lineup to switch to "All Michael, All The Time." CNN, knowing that nothing sells like death, ignored the death in Iran, Iraq and God knows what other country we couldn't identify on a map to go Whacko on Jacko. People were lining up outside UCLA Medical Center to get updates, or official word of his passing. CNN interviewed people on the streets of New York for their opinion. Some of the folks were crying. Newscasters did their best "grave, serious voice," the kind that Walter Cronkite used to save for the death of a President, or real honest-to-God Kings, not kings of pop.

Oh, yeah, Walter - I hope you'll rest in peace, by the way. It was reported that you were on Death's Door the other day. Some places reported that you were dead. Much like Abe Vigoda and that Monty Python skit, "I'm not dead yet." You were an inspiration to me during my budding television career, but more like in the whole "I probably shouldn't smoke while on camera" way than anything. Still, your grace and gravitas is sorely lacking in today's media. I miss it. We've been a little busy back here in the mortal coil to give you a proper send-off. Iran is squashing an uprising, using men with guns to shoot women with amazing cheekbones, haunting eyes, and more courage than the average man could ever imagine. The Republican Party is having a hell of a time keeping its collective zipper up, as two prominent GOP members got busted for cheating on their wives - one who railed against President Clinton for his adulterous tendencies, and the other who used tax money to go bang out some hot Latin love down in Argentina.

Fellow TV professional Ed McMahon died as well, a Korean War veteran, a beloved sidekick, and, in no small way, responsible for the viral video craze to catch on during the internet age. He and Dick Clark doled out bloopers during prime time, a predecessor to YouTube and all the DVD extra features we demand. 9 Washington D.C. citizens died in a horrific mass transit accident, and the repercussions of which has made the city you used to travel through a virtual blockade of slowed trains and slower cars. Former sex symbol Farrah Fawcett died today as well, succumbing to her years-long battle with cancer. And, on top of that, I think I read where some bomb went off in Iraq, killing another 50 or so folks. Nothing major, you know, when compared to a guy who kept a pet monkey, wore half as many gloves as society would demand, and had more face lifts than hit singles the past 20 years.

Let me get this straight - Gary Glitter writes a catchy tune, but he loves teenage Asian boys and their teenage Asian boy bits. He goes off to Vietnam to get a few for some sort of bizarre pre-teen sex/drugs/rock and roll/ thing and we can't listen to him anymore because he's a child molester. They stopped playing his big hit, "History of Rock and Roll Part I" - which you may know better as the "dot-da-da-daaa Hey! You Suck!" song. I get that. Child molesters are bad, at least, that's what Megan's Law told me.

BUT, Michael Jackson, who paid out MILLIONS of dollars to settle multiple child molestation cases, who had photographs of all sorts of nude children, and who damned near dropped his own son off a balcony a few years ago - *HE* is worth eulogizing??? Is it because, unlike Glitter, he had more than one Top 40 hit? He had almost as many Grammies as face lifts, but he's been around more kid privates than Pampers and been on more children than Osh Kosh B'Gosh, *HE'S* worth honoring? Crying in the street over? He's worth that?

Because that's what it comes to - celebrity. Michael Jackson was a child star. He was part of our lives way back before disco with the Jackson 5 and made a rock/urban hybrid sound on "Thriller" that only Prince (and ONLY Prince) could possibly emulate. (Linkin Park, take note of that. You've sold a lot of albums, but you still suck. Just a FYI for ya.) He did some acting - remember The Wiz? - and even turned his lesser-talented siblings into stars themselves, though Janet was legit in her own right, but LaToya, Tito, Jermaine, Randy, Reggie, Action, Pollack...sheesh. Really? REALLY? Really...?

Jackson became the King of Pop because nobody sold as many records as he did. Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones (Rolling and Roses), not even the amazing Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines combo, sold like MJ. He was a worldwide megastar. And, nobody became the poster boy for the excesses of wealth and trappings of fame like MJ. Neverland Ranch, Bubbles the Chimp, the obsession with the Elephant Man, the obsession with the Little Children - think about it - average folks who don't even care for Michael Jackson's music knew more about his personal life than almost any other celebrity. Who's the biggest star in the music world right now? Beyonce'? Miley Cyrus? The Jonas Brothers? Fergie? Bono? Bet you can't name their pets. Bet you can't identify the names of their houses. I'll wager you can't even guess who *their* necrophiliac crush is. The only person who has as identifiable questions would be the President - we know he lives in the White House. We know he recently adopted Bo, the First Dog, though, as far as we can tell, has yet to dig up the bones of JFK and put them in the Lincoln Bedroom.

But you could do all that and more with Michael Jackson. Hell, owning the remains of a dead man famous for his bizarre disfigurement wasn't even THE WEIRDEST thing Michael Jackson is known for!

Perhaps MJ's greatest feat was making people give a crap about him well-after he had so obviously lost his marbles. This manchild abused countless children, and yet was still free to roam the Earth. God knows how much therapy those children have had, and will need, just to even THINK about becoming normal. And, how much more they'll need after 10 hours of constant television coverage of their abuser, treating him as a deity.

All because of a couple of hit records.