Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson ... Mass Hysteria

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the mass hysteria over Michael Jackson? I don't get it. Michael Jackson has been washed up, musically and artistically speaking, for over a decade. We have witnessed the spectacle of his disgrace and humiliation in both his public and private life, and the world turned its back on him and called him "Wacko Jacko" -- amongst other things -- just when he needed them most. Not long ago, an auction of his personal items generated no interest whatsoever.

Michael Jackson was a fabulously talented and amazing singer and dancer, and his "Thriller" album is still one of the best albums ever produced. It is still such a good album, I bought a copy for Phinnaeus and Marigold a couple of years ago. But "Thriller" was really Michael Jackson's last relevant album, and it was almost 30 years ago. Of course, everyone feels terrible that he died at such a relatively young age, but what on on earth is generating this over-the-top deification of an entertainer? Could there be a modicum of guilt involved?

I don't mean to sound mean-spirited, but I just don't get it... What am I missing?

45 comments:

ivan said...

At least he was lent an ear.
Deservedly.. Big one.
Not so with the hapless Vincent by his contemporaries.

pranksygang said...

even i have no idea why people are crazy about him after his death?
i love "Thriller", that song and dance in that are simply superb!

The Bug said...

Jo I am totally with you on this. I can't believe all the hoopla. It's starting to make me a little crazy - like maybe I should hibernate for a while until it's over. When do you think that will be?

Alissa said...

I think it's something along the lines of an artist's work suddenly going up in value when they die. Yes, Michael Jackson did have fame and huge success in his lifetime unlike many artists, but fame passed him on for a variety of reasons. Suddenly, people who have taken him for granted through these obscure years are shocked that he is gone. Dying young and suddenly helps as well. Had he come down with incurable cancer and wasted away over a period of several months, I don't think the hoopla would be quite as big. He was a hugely talented and hugely troubled person and his passing leaves a lot of mysteries and unanswered questions about his life.

Starlene said...

I've been wondering the exact same thing.

Nancy said...

I think it has gone over the top. He was a genius in so many ways, but was also a very troubled man/child. I think it is being hyped to sell, sell, sell. And having 24-hour news programs just seems to keep churning "stuff" to take up time.

Judi said...

I never understood the interest in Elvis but I was not of his generation. To me, he was just a singer with greasy hair.

IMHO...it was the contribution he made to the music world with his songs and dance moves unlike anything we had seen before; the tremendous influence on so many other pop artists; and, his crossover appeal to different races during a difficult time.

I believe I am correct in saying he was 24 when Thriller was released. That's a young age to reach your pinnacle.

I don't have Jackson on my iPod but his songs make me want to dance every time I hear one; they make me feel better.

Despite what one thinks about his personal life, he gave us entertainment. If he had not released anything else after Thriller, we would have still been given quite a musical catalog to enjoy.

Patty said...

I'm with you. I don't understand it either. But it's one way for the media to draw attention to themselves and it's also one way for some to make big bucks themselves by selling T-shirts and etc.

A true fan and friend would have stuck by him through thick and thin.

Kimberly said...

The hysteria could be because it wasn't expected. I was/am an MJ fan & his personal life seemed to be going down the drains for many of his last years...he was a huge icon & I am sure the industry & the tabloids will surely miss him.

greenpanda said...

Well, being young(ish), i first heard of him because of the (alleged) kiddyfiddling. So that is unfortunately what i shall always remember him for..... :(

Bobbie said...

I also can't understand why there is so much adoration for a drug-abusing child molester. Human nature, I guess.

Rose said...

Well...I've always liked MJ. Yes, he's had a lot of bad happenings goin' on and he's been involved in a truckload of stuff that's really quite awful.
But...in death, it can't be that bad a thing to herald his achievements? George Michael, Madonna, 50 Cent,Marilyn Monroe, Chaplin,Heath Ledger, Princess Di...there was always controversy. But musically, he did give us a bouquet. I associate a lot of his music with my childhood and different phases in life. Human nature, Billie Jean, They don't really care about us, I could go on and on. And I guess that's what was special.And why he'll be missed....by me at least. I think Jo...that today, ppl miss the man behind the music. Not the man behind the baby hanging out of the window.
Tomorrow however, is a different story. Life goes on, in that funny way it has of doing so.

Russell said...

The Michael Jackson I knew was the little boy and young man who sang with his brothers. I pretty much lost track of him after the early 1980s.

I heard a man this morning who said Michael had more talent than any other performer he had ever worked with. Elvis could sing, but not dance. Few performers can write songs and none that were the level of Michael's work.

Most people applaud performers, actors, athletes and even politicans for what they do on stage -- and most people really do not care all that much about the person's personal life (since the person does not seem overly real to many people).

I respect Michael Jackson for his incredible talent. I feel sorry for him and his family for the very sad personal life he endured.

lovelyprism said...

Amen Sister! I've been wondering the same thing. It's sad. He was incredibly talented and died young. But 24/7 news coverage? A live televised memorial on no less than six channels? I kept flipping through the channels for something else. *sigh* I landed on the home shopping network (which I NEVER watch) and it cost me 5 easy installments of $59. At least it's a workout machine I might actually use and the end benefit is a healthier me.

Amelia said...

I am not one who tends to judge at all, but I am TOTALLY with you in not understanding what the big deal is and why he MASS memorial service. There are alot of other people who have done far greater a service for the human kind who NEVER get noticed.

Rae said...

I have to admit that I have been down on his strange behavior and appearance changes during the last 15 years, but I grew up with his music and he is still a legend in the music field. It is too bad he squandered his reputation. I will not miss the man but I will miss his talent.

Leslie: said...

I think I mostly echo Russell's response on this one. I watched a bit of the memorial before having to go out this morning, and I thought it was wonderful - a bit of entertainment but in a respectful way and some lovely words in remembrance of him. I missed Brooke Shields' tribute & wish I could have heard it, as I understand they were kindred spirits along the lines of being child stars robbed of their childhood.

Katy said...

I actually wrote a similar post not too long ago. I just don't get it either. I also love how now if you even mention his scandels you are somehow a horrible person.

In all of this I only feel for the kids. They had a weird enough life as it was and now this. I just hope for them, all the media attention dies down soon and the world leaves them alone.

Marguerite said...

I don't only NOT understand it, but think that it's an abomination, considering the crimes that he committed against innocent children. I suppose it's all about money, Jo. It was all about money, then, and it's all about money, now.

jackc50 said...

if he had died shortly after thriller came out i might had understood. but he lived too long and we got to see some of the real michael. i say let him rest in peace and stop all the nonsense, for he was all too human. another king we don't need...jack c

SparkleFarkle said...

I have always admired Michael Jackson for his being different AND the difference he made. It wasn't just his contribution to the music industry (and the racial gaps he bridged through his musical endeavors), per se, that I'm talking about.

In songs like “We are the World,” and “Man in the Mirror,” Mr. Jackson spoke to the hearts of people and made powerful statements about the need for greater unity, compassion and peace in the world. AND DON'T FORGET, too, when Michael changed the world with "We Are the World" in 1985, bringing attention to the need of famine relief in Africa, the project also changed the way celebrities would get involved in humanitarian causes. (George Clooney, Brad and Angelina, etc. would later follow his lead.)

Much of the proceeds of Michael Jackson's records and tours were donated to charities devoted to African relief, college scholarships and HIV/AIDS. In 1992, he founded the Heal the World Foundation to relieve the suffering of children around the world, and his “Dangerous World Tour” that year gave him the opportunity, in his own words, to “visit children around the world, as well as spread the message of global love, in the hope that others will be moved to do their share to help heal the world.”

In 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records cited Mr. Jackson for holding the world record for the “Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star.”

Christopher Mays of YourCause.com puts best into words exactly what I wish I could about Mr. Jackson: "Most people think of Michael Jackson’s greatest legacy as his dynamic and powerful performances in both dance and song. Music and entertainment are what Jackson is best known for amongst most people around the world. His tremendous originality and creativity in dance and video performances changed forever the genre of rock ‘n roll music videos. His concerts were legendary because of the fire works, theatrical presentation as well as the richly soulful music. [But] Michael was genuinely interested in the welfare of others as much as in his career. This is a sign of a great soul, of a servant of humanity and a positive person.

Michael Jackson was not only an outstanding performer, he was an outstanding human being. There’s a lesson for us in his legacy. Each of us can do so much for one another other to bring greater well-being, deeper happiness, reach out with an act of kindness or compassion. We can all learn from his example to extend ourselves to heal the world one person at a time.

Sometimes people ask what can I do to make a difference? If you look at the life of Michael Jackson’s life the answer is simple. Everywhere you turn you can bring benefit to someone in some way."

Rest peacefully, Mr. Jackson. I, for one, will truly miss you.

Avril Fleur said...

I too, don't get it. He hasn't been in the news at all in the last few years and the few years before that was all bad or just weird news about him. His glory days are long gone. Great music, sad, weird life though. I felt barely anything at all when I heard of his death. I felt more for Farrah Fawcett to tell the truth, whose death was sadly overshadowed by MJ's.

Ruby Isabella said...

I think the media can be cruel and heartless and also the people who consume it. MJ was written off as a weirdo. It is easy to be glib and quick to judge. Now the media is looking at his life with some compassion so if they go a bit overboard, I'll forgive them that.

robert said...

Hope that his kids will be able to make living away from being followed until their end.
For me it was English that I learned through his songs and those of Aerosmith.
Currently would love to hear a bit of the sound of silence you wrote about earlier.
BTW - still going after Greek lessons?

Jo said...

Ivan, where do you come up with this stuff? :-)

Pranksygang, yes, "Thriller" is one of my favorite albums too.

TheBug. *heh, heh* soon I hope! Or else I will have to hibernate too.

Alissa, "fame passed him on for a variety of reasons." You have hit the nail squarely on the head!

Starlene, oh, goodness, yes!

Nancy, it has really turned into a form of hysteria. It's unbelievable.

Judi, I agree with you 100%. Totally! But, I don't think any of that justifies the deification of "St. Michael" that has been going on. It's just silly...

Patty, yes! His fans disappeared for years, poor man. Now he's dead, everyone suddenly is his biggest fan again.

Kimberly, oh, goodness, the tabloids haven't even started yet. His life will be fodder for years and years.

Greenpanda, "kiddyfiddling"? Oh, gawd, what a great word. Thank you. I love it!

Bobbie, yes! Why now, for goodness sake!?

Rose, oh yes, I agree with you. His music was fabulous, but I don't get all the ... mass hysteria over his death.

Russell, "I pretty much lost track of him after the early 1980s." Yes, I think we all did. He lost track of himself too. He had incredible talent, and I feel very sad for the personal loss to his family, but goodness, the falderal in the last two weeks is waaaaay over the top.

Lovelyprism, LAUGH OUT LOUD!!! I love it...! You can thank Michael Jackson for the new and improved you. *heh*

Amelia, "There are a lot of other people who have done far greater a service for the human kind who NEVER get noticed." I totally agree! Oh, goodness!

Rae, yes, sadly he squandered everything from his talent to his reputation to his money.

Leslie, I have to disagree with you about this. The past two weeks, and the memorial, was anything but respectful. It was gaudy and gauche. It was a spectacle.

Katy, I feel sorry for his kids too. What a circus!

Marguerite, yes, I suppose it all comes down to money, doesn't it? And people can -- and do -- get away with anything.

Jackc50, I agree. Stop the nonsense and let him rest in peace. It sounds as if he needed it.

SparkleFarkle, oh, I don't think anyone disputes any of that. My point is, this two weeks of mourning that has been going on has been way over the top.

Avril, I felt much sadder about Farrah Fawcett, too. She died and was buried in dignity, unlike Michael Jackson.

Ruby, oh, yes, I agree. But two weeks of mass hysteria? I just don't get it. What am I missing?

Robert, yes, Michael Jackson was a great singer and dancer, but... Oh well. And yes, but I am taking Russian instead of Greek. :-)

Wenderina said...

This just continues to make me feel that the media grabs onto something and WILL NOT LET GO until they've wrung every possible bit of interest from it.

I keep thinking - Poor Farrah, to die the same day and be totally ignored because of this circus. But no one deserves this much coverage. Who does he think he is Diana? ;-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think it's a media feeding frenzy. I agree that MJ was extremely talented but he has long since exhausted his allotted 15 minutes of fame; in fact, he had far more than his share, to say nothing of INfamy.

The whole notion of deifying celebrities shows how empty and sick our society is in many ways.

Patinho Feio said...

Jo, I'm glad you mention this.
I would also like to understand it, as I watch in amazement.
I entirely agree with you and Bobby, Marguerita en Kate.
He was a pedophiel and a child abuser. Yet, I hear nobody mention it. Can you explain that to me?
In any case, whatever music he would make, or however good he would dance, I would not even look at a child molester. I'm a classic music lover, but even if he was Rachmaninov!... I would not not want his music.

I don't understand why people just do as if this doesn't matter in his case.

Cedar said...

A life?
An illusion?
Or just another American tragic comedy?

I think Shakespear would have liked Michael Jackson.

Marcos Vinicius Gomes said...

Yes, there are some guilt and cynic tears for him. But the humiliation of his late days was cleaned up with the ceremonial with all that marvelous black liturgy and its simbology of resistance against discrimination!

Kathryn said...

I think some of it is remembering our own pasts. I remember attending one of his concerts, what i was like, who i was, & how very young i was then. So, his passing is like the passing of my youth in some ways.

I liked him, never believed all the things that were said of him . . . but i think he was a very troubled man & a very sad one & had done a lot of strange things. Tragedy happens in so many ways. If he had been happy his death would be tragedy at that age; since he wasn't happy his death is as much a tragedy.

Still, i think the coverage for him is over the top.

Mariana Soffer said...

People love public displays of grieve and whatever, remembering the past, but I find it kind of awkward I do not like to participate in those events, I think it is just a way to try to cover something else.
Bye jo

meggie said...

I am totally with you. What is all the fuss about. I never liked any of his music, or his dancing, so I am a real old fuddy duddy.
As to his disgusting family... least said, the better.

PhilipH said...

Money, money, money, lovely money, that's what it's all about now.

I have to say that Jackson was never my cup of tea. A bit of a one-hit-wonder and universally known as Whacko Jacko.

Death at such an early age is quite tragic, for anybody. But it happens; life goes on.

With Jacko it is just going on and on and on and on.....

CTVicky said...

Wow, 34 comments. I think I'll still had my two cents.

I feel it's because he was SO entrenched in pop culture, he was a household name for so, so long, that it's like losing...well, a member of the household.

It is a huge shock. I think despite everything that's gone on, noone expected him to leave us so soon, and so suddenly.

When someone close to you dies, it is only natural to glorify them. I think the only case that would be unnatural would be if someone who was a very mean person died.

I think even the people who believed those families and the people who called him Wacko Jacko still in their hearts know he was a very kind, generous person, and can still acknowledge the extraordinary talent he is.

He wasn't just very talented, he was idolised by oh, people like Mariah Carey, Usher and Madonna. He invented a dance. He had the voice of an angel. He made THE most amazing music videos. He put on brilliant shows.

He was probably the most talented man who ever lived.

The Panorama said...

Jo, I understand the hysteria. There are a lot of talented musicians but he was just brilliant. The way his music could move you. Also, it was his dancing, the moonwalking, it simply caught the fancy of the world.
I have been a fan and love his music. He may have been whacko but that still doesn't mean that he wasn't a legend. He was king of the pop.

Dee said...

In my opinion, you can explain it in two words. Mass Hysteria. It has been fed by the media. If you see teen agers, who hardly knew his music, turn on the emotions and want to die if they can't get tickets to his memorial,you know what the story is. Point a camera in their direction and the tears flow! AEG owns Staples Center and now the film of the program. They will profit from the whole drama.

Land of shimp said...

There are a couple of things about the whole situation that I think put it in perspective. I don't think it is about Michael Jackson, but rather the place/time/event his music makes people think of in their own lives. So the people mourning seem to be honoring their own lives as much as anything. His death being a reminder of things past in our own experience.

I've just been hearing and reading some of the responses from fans and that's what I've noticed. It's more about remembering slumber parties with sing-a-longs, or dancing in clubs. Thriller was great but I've got no strong MJ memories that are attached to him. It's sad that he died young, but he was something of a tormented soul.

Then there is the value of shared experience. It happened with Princess Diana died also, suddenly she was a much bigger, more important figure globally than she had ever been. Hey, she did a lot for AIDS research within her life but Mother Theresa died in the same period, and there was nothing like the outpouring.

Civilizations, societies, people in general like to share an experience. To feel united in something, often something sad, but look at the Harry Potter book releases that became a global event. Sometimes we as a country, or as a world, share in an event. Psychologically we do so to feel safer, closer to our fellows.

It's hardly ever about the actual subject of the event. If you ask most people now about Princess Diana, you don't get a long spiel about tragedy, or saintliness.

People talk more about what they did on the night of the release of the last HP book than they do the actual book. "We stayed up and read all night!"

It's about being united, and sometimes the subjects we pick our strange but in Michael Jackson's death, it isn't about MJ. It's about "Hey, what did you do to Thriller? Dance? Sing? Flirt?" and the recognition that we have something in common, while honoring the past.

The sad soul who led a life of scandal, and infamy, who seemed to loathe himself so fully that he essentially had his own face cut off over and over again, he's hardly the point of it. Not really.

Land of shimp said...

One other fairly quick thing: I think that there is also a tendency to honor people with decided feet of clay because we all hope that despite our own failings, we are good and worthy people.

Hence the "Whoa, Mother Theresa and incredible woman who lived a life of service to others has died." and the response was "Ah yes, she was very, very good." but the world didn't turn out with flowers. Princess Diana, a woman with marital difficulties, famous battles with the in-laws, and a self destructive streak, she was the person that got the almost maniacal grief response.

Paula Slade said...

I tend to agree Jo, there was a mass amount of "guilt" in the public's reaction, as many long ago had written him off, but I also believe that it gave the general public something else to focus on instead of a world out of economic control, and proliferated with terrorists and unstable governments.

Jo said...

Wenderina, "The media grabs onto something and WILL NOT LET GO until they've wrung every possible bit of interest from it." that's a scary thought, isn't it? And yes, poor Farrah. She was lovely, and she was ignored.

Hearts, that's what I don't understand. His 15 minutes of fame was over LONG ago. The public had turned its back on him. So why deify him? It's beyond comprehension.

Patinho Feio, yes, the child molestation thing has been swept under the rug, and now suddenly he is a saint. I think, in the fullness of time, the truth will come out. These things always do.

Ris, oh yes! Shakespeare would have LOVED Michael Jackson. And he would have seen the ridiculousness of the whole thing, too.

Marcos, oh yes, they did a wonderful clean-up job, didn't they? Well, the fact is, he was wonderfully talented -- extremely -- but he chose the life he chose, and didn't seem to care. He thought he was invincible.

Kathryn, I liked him too, but I'm afraid I did believe the charges against him. There were just too many... But having said that, even if the charges were not true, it does not justify two weeks or more of making him a saint.

Meggie, well, yes ... he was surrounded by questionable people, wasn't he? But he certainly was not St. Michael. :-)

Philip, well, hopefully the media will take up some other obsession, and he can rest in peace. He craved the limelight so much, it's almost a shame he wasn't around to see this. *heh*

CTVicky, gosh, I am not surprised that he died young. He has been heavily involved in drugs for years, and he died of a drug overdose. The human body can only take so much. I loved Michael Jackson's music, but I do believe the man led a questionable life, and did not deserve to be deified in the media. I have actually felt a bit sickened by it. But I do love his music!

The Panorama, oh, I don't disagree. At all. I loved his music. But what was the last thing he did? The last concert he gave? He was booed off the stage in London. He died, and he deserved to be buried in dignity, like anyone else. But this sudden sainthood in the media? I just don't get it...

Dee, yes, I agree. It's all about the money. People profited off Michael Jackson when he was alive, and they will continue to profit off him now.

Land of Shimp, you just may be brilliant. :-) I think you have summed the whole bizarre experience up in your comments here. I think people actually need these mass hysteria events, in some strange psychological way, and it is never about the subject of them. Yes, you have put it all into perspective.

Paula, yes, I do believe a lot of people felt guilty. Michael Jackson had been pilloried by the press and the public especially in the last decade. Now he's dead and everyone feels guilty. Interesting.

SparkleFarkle said...

Polish wedding "tintinnabulations" in my family last for days and days, and then, if we're lucky, days more! LOL! If there's a good reason to celebrate, you just don't want to let go. Seriously, in my book, sainthood's not too much to expect for Michael Jackson. RIP, Mr. Jackson, my thoughts and prayers are for your children. They must be missing their father so much.

Pouty Lips said...

You are not being mean spirited. I have not heard one honest reporter cover this story. There are two sides to it as you presented it. It is not normal for a grown man to sleep with 9 year olds even if it only platonic. Come on! Yes, the man was a a pretty great musician in his day and he gave a lot of money to charity but he was just as weird as a three dollar bill.

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Darslow said...

Ma'am, you my dear, sound like you had not only written off MJ years ago, but also developed a personal grudge against him for being human. First of all, Michael Jackson was exonerated of all child molestation claims. So as to whether he actually did it or not may not ever be known. I personally work with children and would have never imagined the manipulative and malicious behavior in which they could engage to destroy others. Although I believe Michael had many identifiable social and psychological deficits, I don't believe and never have believed half of the B.S. written about him. At some point, it became almost impossible to separate the man from the myth. Michael made many juvenile mistakes, i.e., inviting children into his bedroom without proper adult supervision. Also, he demonstrated various problems that rationally linked him to serious psychological issues, but to villify this man to no end without solid evidence was just inhumane. I agree with you that the mass coverage of his death was excessive, but to attack him personally without really having a clue who he was is fundamentally ignorant. I am not in a position to judge or to defend him on personal level, but there is no way in hell that anyone can convince me that Michael Jackson was not a musical genius. I came to enjoy MJ less and less over the years, but I never once discounted his entire life because of sensationalism and innuendo.