I thought that I could watch television news channels or surf internet news sites again. Certainly, our national period of mourning must have ended by now, or so I hoped. Alas, like the zombies featured in the music video for the song Thriller, the reports persist in haunting my search for coverage of worthwhile events.
The never-ending drama surrounding the death of Michael Jackson needs to cease. He passed away unexpectedly more than three weeks ago yet still remains far too prominent among media coverage. Despite the devotion of his blindly enamored fanatics, his superficial impact on the world does not merit the overindulgence of attention accorded to his life’s accomplishments, his funeral, the custody of his children and the division of his estate.
His cult of personality has ballooned to an absurd level, way out of proportion to his contemporary relevance or to human history. Statements crediting him with breakthroughs in the arena of civil rights resonate as curious hyperbole at best. As a role model for black Americans, particularly black males born since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Jackson left much to be desired. Granted, he transferred his success as a pre-teen pop star with his four brothers into a solo singing career. However, he chose to undergo multiple cosmetic surgeries over the course of his adulthood to obscure and eventually remove his distinctively black facial features. In the final few years of his life, Jackson resembled an alabaster and androgynous freak more suited to the day-time tawdry talkshows.
Further undermining the de facto sainthood accorded to Michael Jackson are the rumors and confirmed reports of his creepy interaction with children. Obviously, Jackson suffered from the deprivation of a healthy childhood. Due to his parents’ hard-driving exhortations to pinnacles of fame and fortune in the music industry, many of the joys of adolesence eluded Jackson. Evidently, he thought that by creating a fantasy-inspired home appropriately named “Neverland” that he could recreate the youth which he was denied. Nevertheless, any man who actively seeks the company of pre-teen boys who are not related to him stands out as strange. Jackson’s overt catering to preteen boys eerily resembles behavior employed by child molesters to lure in their prey. Regardless of whether he desired sexual exploitation of his young male companions or simply and selfishly wanted the typical boyhood experiences that he was denied, he rightfully deserved the scorn and condemnation that he received for his bizarre behavior.
Granted, Jackson’s albums rank as some of the highest selling of all-time. However, overblown statements labeling him as the greatest singer or musician or entertainer of all time need a strong case of tempering with historical perspective without the emotional tumult following his recent death. He never mastered any musical instrument; his ability to read and compose music has not been substantiated. Sadly, his legions of adorers mistake his effeminate voice, flashy gyrations and self-fondling for musical perfection.
What will cure the American, indeed, world’s obsession with this death of one man and its endless, overdramatized aftermath? Should we hope for the addition of another pet to the Obama White House? Will it necessitate O.J. Simpson's involvement in more felonious activities? Does another bubble-headed, bleached blonde, third-rate actress have to die unexpectedly? Perhaps, only the unexpected death of another washed-up pop star that also peaked in the 1980s will halt the gluttony of paparazzi's obsession with Jackson’s passing. So, will you help us out of this misery, Madonna?
COPYRIGHT BY CHARLES KASTRIOT JULY 2009