Friday, July 03, 2009

On Michael Jackson's Death

A few thoughts, probably not worth posting.

1. I hated all of the evening network news coverage this got. Iran went from being a lead story to not even being a story at all on the day Jacko died. Cap-and-trade, bank failures, Iraq, Afghanistan, and multiple state financial crises also either weren't covered or were on the backburner. This continues with the whole estate & custody battle. Network news is a sham.

Thankfully, PBS NewsHour hardly mentioned MJ and Farrah Fawcett's death and put other REAL news ahead of it.

2. I don't understand why everyone is rushing to download and play his music. 2.6 million downloads and counting this week, an online record. His albums are in this week's Top 10. What?? Were people afraid the music would disappear or something?

It had been "uncool" to listen to Michael Jackson music for years, and radio stations hardly touched it. Now, everyone's doing it. Why? Did his death erase the stigma? If so, why?

3. I had some brief nostalgia. I just had a Facebook conversation with a friend of mine from 2nd grade (1987, when Bad was released). I remembered that he had had a vinyl copy of Off the Wall at his house and was a huge Michael Jackson fan (we all were, which is why I remember it). He's now a drummer and his style of music is what I will call "alternative/metal" (knowing that this is a false mischaracterization, sorry). I asked him if he had erased the MJ fanship of his past. His response:

Nope, I haven't erased that at all, haha. I remember getting the 'Bad' tape and going over the insert so much that the panels came apart! I didn't understand it then, but I just loved the vocal melodies and the tembre of Jackson's voice. To this day after 15 years of playing the drums, it's still vocals that make or break a song to me. To tell the truth, I wish I had Off the Wall on CD and I still think MJ kicks butt[sic]. I should get that and Thriller, too.

Did my parents buy me Bad, or what is an aunt or uncle for my birthday? I think my sister had Thriller, which I just borrowed.
I also vaguely remember someone in my preschool class having "parachute" pants (circa 1983, when Thriller was doing it's 80 week chart-topping). No comment from him, yet.

I'm willing to admit that Billie Jean is one of the greatest pop songs of all time
and it's been in my head all week. You can watch the classic video on YouTube here. Watching this I think that Justin Timberlake in many ways is a copy of the old-school Michael Jackson.


Keith Walters said...

I think it is interesting that over the past year several celebrities have died and the cause has in one way or another been at least causally linked to being overmedicated. The very pills they were using to retain their youth end up killing them. Furthermore, I can think of no other individual who more embodies the perpetual adolescence of our age. Here is a man who lived at Neverland Ranch, named after the fictional land of Peter Pan where children never grow up, and who over the course of his life and his quest for youth and the recapturing of this childhood in many ways became a completely different person. I think that the lives of these individuals and the outcomes of their quests should challenge some of the fundamental presuppositions of American pop-culture; although I doubt anyone else is thinking hard enough for that to happen.

JDTapp said...

While I think many are trying to perpetuate youth, I'm not sure the meds are supposed to do that. Most stars from Elvis to MJ seem to have trouble sleeping and get doctors to prescribe them crazy high doses.

But you would think that "the lives of these individuals and the outcomes of their quests should challenge some of the fundamental presuppositions of American pop-culture" would you? I mean, stars have been self-destructing for thousands of years. Yet, everyone wants to be like them.

Everyone wants to be treated like a god, if only for a brief instant. Then once they feel that, it's hard to let it go.

Jackie said...

I totally agree that the news coverage over his death was absurd! When Joey told me "you're not going to believe this...but Michael Jackson just died" I replied, "yeah right, I don't believe it." And since that moment I had the "Billie Jean" song stuck in my head too. I felt bad for the Fawcett family who got overshadowed in the news of MJ. She inspired hairstyle trends for a long time, and fought a pretty hard battle in her last days.