Monday, June 29, 2009


I do hope, gentle reader, that you did not spend too much of your weekend mourning the demise of Michael Jackson, or even talking about said demise. Because (and I don't really need to tell you this do, I?) time spent in such a way would be wasted, wouldn't it? Your emotions were manipulated, were they not? Manipulated not by the Mass Media - that is like so 20th Century; no, said emotions were manipulated by your Twitter pals, and your Facebook Friends: people you know, sort of. They all rushed to make a comment, each one hoping that he or she would be the one who told you and countless others about it. And so, it came to pass that a rather inconsequential event became terribly important.

Or, to put it another way: Michael Jackson was forgotten, for the most part, by ordinary decent people. He was, after all, Creepy and Weird. The only people who did not share this opinion were His dedicated fans, those who stayed with him long after He stopped making half-decent records and throughout the child molesting stage of his life. Why so? Answer: the dedicated fans are (a) creepy and (b) weird. They wouldn't have minded if he had been found guilty; they would have offered their own children to him. The rest of us carried on our lives, feeling vaguely uncomfortable about what we did in the Eighties.

Then He died, suddenly. It made the news. It stopped the news. Everybody remembered Him, and what He had meant to them, back then, before it all became rather sordid. And everyone felt sad. But everyone also secretly rejoiced, because His demise was an opportunity for everybody to come together, to share their feelings and their memories. And such mourning for our past is acceptable, in this post-ironic culture; not just for the Proles, who have always enjoyed mawkish sentimentality, but also for People Like Us. Look: even the Guardian is doing it.

It is better this way. Concerning ourselves with the death of a composite media figure (the King of Pop, as he insisted he be called by any media outlet that was wanting of his blessing; an insistence that has now paid dividends, since it is as the King of Pop that he is known) is so much easier than dealing with the real problems, like the millions of plastic beads flowing from exfoliating soap into the oceans, or that interview on Nine to Noon with Charles Clover about the imminent extinction of fishes.

Me? My weekend was rad. We went to Labretta Suede's garage sale, an opportunity to drink beer in a garden in New Lynn, surrounded by retro Americana. Then we played Super Mario and Kirby on the Wii. The past is so much better these days than it was back in the day.


Robyn said...

Most of the online grieving I've seen my pals do hasn't been for the pale-skinned, stringy-haired, micro-nosed, messiah-complexed washed-up, addicted dancer-who-can-also-sing.

But rather they're grieving the "Off the Wall" era Michael Jackson - the beautiful 20-year-old boy, with brown skin, full lips, a broad nose, an Afro do and was more a singer of really joyful songs than a dancer.

But that Michael Jackson really died sometime in the mid-80s.

Peter in Dundee said...

I am reminded of the outrageous, over the top hoopla that accompanied the death of Saint Diana of the Landmines. We had to endure that one while in London. The funeral cortege passed our house (we had the M1 at the bottom of the garden). It was awful.

So I have tried hard to ignore the hoopla over MJ's death. I agree, the brilliant man he was died a long time ago.

Giovanni Tiso said...

And so, it came to pass that a rather inconsequential event became terribly important.

Oh dear no, no no no. He might have died as an artist twenty years ago, but he remained relevant, one of the very few for whom you could actually use the word icon, and reflection seems only appropriate on the time of his demise. I wouldn't presume to engage in such speculations myself, but I'd dare you to say that pieces such as this one by K-Punk are pointless. I also liked Owen's contribution, not least for dredging up the moniker of "Stalin of Pop".

Paul R said...

Not being a twitterer, this is how I found out:

(not the cartoon itself, but the method described?

Philip said...

Icons are like taxis and noses. There's always another.

Word Verification: diumbea, Princess Diana and Princess Beatrice in the mouth of a more than usually sober and articulate tabloid hack.

Marie said...

From my son's friend at their intermediate school class presentation (though not as an official part of the presentation):
Did you hear what they're going to do with Michael Jackson?
No, what?
Melt him down to plastic and make him into Lego so kids can play with him for a change.