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No Tears for Michael

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At the risk of being called a “hater” and inflaming a lot of people, I would like to formally come out and opine that I will not be mourning the loss of the self-anointed King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Sure, when anyone dies, it’s a tragedy. The snuffing out of a life by whatever means is sad. Death is the reminder that our human existence is a tenuous thing. Here today, gone tomorrow. (I need people to die. When someone passes away, I am energized into working on my novel, simply because I don’t want to leave it half finished. I use death as a kick in the pants and as a tool to curb procrastination and to improve time management.)

MJ is everywhere: not just on TV, where every scintilla of information leaking out of California is probed and dissected, but on the local Detroit news and in the papers. Since Jackson’s passing, throngs have come out to the original Motown site to lay flowers and mementos, and there have been much teeth-gnashing and tears.

My tolerance for television is next to nothing. I turned down the TV (hubby in the room watching golf) and started reading Atlas Shrugged. Again.

So why do people care?

Michael Jackson was young. So what? Young people die every day, as do old people and those in between. The human condition says we want our graduations, our first jobs, our first home, children, success, and retirement, but not many look past that to the ultimate demise. It’s the one part of the human experience that no one wants to stare dead (no pun intended) in the face.

Michael Jackson was talented. Yes, so true. He was in control of dance moves that defied the law of gravity, and penned many great songs, although not much has come out of his camp in the last few years. Lots of other people are also talented, artists who aren’t privy to the lucky break or who don’t have (alleged) abusive stage dads in the background.

Michael Jackson was the poor child star. Here I have little sympathy, even though many child stars succumb to the pressures of stardom. Danny Bonaduce, Macaulay Culkin, the Facts of Life kids, the list goes on and on and on. However, others come out amazingly unscathed by an overdose of excess and attention. Could it be that their parents viewed them as children and not as commodities?

For someone who is a minor I can eke out some compassion. It ends when the “child” star gains the age of majority and makes his or her own choices as an adult. At some point you have to take responsibility for your actions, despite your background.

It is said that Michael Jackson was misinterpreted, mainly about his feelings toward children; that he loved children and thought of himself as the ultimate Peter Pan, the man who never wanted to grow up. Oh, puh-leeze. The man paid one child $20 million to avoid a trial, and was arrested and tried for child abuse of another, only to be acquitted by a jury of star-struck peers. (Is there such a thing as a “peer” of Michael Jackson? Wouldn’t that be a scary thought? And to find twelve of them in one jurisdiction? Yikes.) He admitted in a documentary to sleeping with other people’s little boys in his bed and saw nothing wrong with the concept.

Does no one remember that just a few short years ago people were referring to him as “Wacko Jacko?” I guess it’s normal among superstars to construct multi-million dollar amusement parks in the backyard, endeavor to buy the Elephant Man’s bones, and dangle babies from a hotel balcony. It's normal to have billionaire tastes on a millionaire budget. When one is rich and famous, it’s okay to defer to common sense to satisfy addictions to plastic surgery and drugs.

To hear the father, Joe Jackson, tell the media that he wanted his son to be remembered as a superstar was unsettling. If my child died of an untimely early demise, I’d want the world to know what a fine young man he was.
Accolades for a strange man who happened to be a damned good entertainer are one thing, but the final straw came when I caught a snippet of someone attributing the fact that Barack Obama is now President of the United States to Michael Jackson paving the way for a black man.

I’m sure Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. are turning tandem somersaults in their graves.

There are three people I do feel sorry for: Michael Jackson’s children. Through no fault of their own, they were born into a perverted sideshow, a world that has no resemblance to reality. It’s going to take a mighty strong constitution to overcome a legacy like that.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • http://jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Nicely said. Glad to see this perspective expressed. I agree with much of what you say in principle, but I don’t totally agree with you about MJ – I have lots of sympathy for people subjected to the sort of the thing he underwent as a tiny child and I don’t think one should be surprised that such people often turn out nutty or even bad.

    I also don’t agree that when anyone dies it’s a tragedy – the word is terribly misused in our society, and even in its weakened form, you wouldn’t apply it to, say, an elderly person who dies peacefully of old age…

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    We, the average citizens, as well as your Lenos and Lettermans, were the ones who pretty much derided him. But all the other media types and musicians never really saw him as that. And they’re the ones on TV.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Joanne, your piece speaks volumes of truth yet I must take minor exception. Yes, there comes a time when one comes of age and has to take personal responsibility. Insofar as the settlements are concerned, I continue to maintain that there has to be accountability on the part of the parents of these ‘victims’. These parents were seduced by delusions of a lavish lifestyle. You pretty much demand accountability from Michael and in your echoes, I say that it is beyond him. These parents are the Joe Jacksons in the lives of the children they used as pawns to advance themselves.

    Without the phenomenon that was Michael Jackson, I do not believe Barack Obama would be living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There’ll be plenty of debate on that point and frankly I don’t care who scoffs at this notion.

    So, while you may not shed a tear for Michael Jackson please remember this. Unless you have been exploited or abused as a child. Unless you were thrust into adulthood far before your body transitioned. Unless you lived in a fishbowl before you even entered primary school. Unless you walked in those shoes, you really have no clue at the sacrifice this child made. If you won’t shed a tear for Michael, at least shed a tear for innocence lost. That, Joanne, is what I mourn and readily shed a tear.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Joanne,

    It is remarkable how much your article sounds like one at Arutz Sheva today by Michael Freund. He wrote for different reasons, but the bottom line was the same. No tears for Michael Jackson. I remnember an article here written at Blogcritics Magazine that talked about how he called Jews “leeches”. It has generated 800 odd comments since its publication here, but because it talked about Jackson embracing Islam, not because he was a Jew-hater.

    No matter. He’s over. No tears. Bye, dude.

    Silas. I’m not going to disagree with you because you have something over me in this situation – experience. I respect experience.

  • Vicky Duggins

    I feel almost exactly as you do, Joanne. I feel myself starting to buy into the damaged boy/man with such remarkable talent, but then I see a clip of him carrying around Emmanuel Lewis or in the interview in which he defended having children sleep in his bed. Then I get creeped out all over again and remember that this man may have damaged hundreds of children over the years. That very much outweighs his talent. Yes, he was found innocent in a California court. But he settled out of court on at least one case. California juries also found OJ and Robert Blake innocent.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Actually, Vicky, they were all found not guilty. A completely different concept

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Jury verdicts don’t count for much in the good ol’ USA any more. Three successive generations of National Enquirer enthusiasts doth not an intelligent society make.

    And, Ruvy, thank you. We may not see eye to eye on many fronts but my respect for you remains steady.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Jury verdicts don’t count for much in the good ol’ USA any more. Three successive generations of National Enquirer enthusiasts doth not an intelligent society make.

    And, Ruvy, thank you. We may not see eye to eye on many fronts but my respect for you remains steady.

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Silas, I guess the perspective of childhood is in the eye of the beholder. I’m the oldest of six, and my childhood was far from storybook. In fact, you could probably say parts of it would be considered abusive by today’s standards. My father came from a similar hard life story from the wilds of northern Minnesota. My siblings take on their experience is different than mine and his is different from his siblings.

    True, parents are responsible to a point, especially when children are young. I have very musically talented children and understand the parental voyeurism that comes with raising offspring who are “better” than you are or could ever hope to be. I can also see by recent interviews that Joe Jackson is pretty twisted and it’s no wonder his son ended up the way he did.

    That being said, if MJ thought (and he expressed it to Oprah) that he was abused as a child, he certainly had the resources to work out his problems with a qualified therapist.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    You’re absolutely right, Joanne. Two wrongs don’t make a right. That being said, Michael Jackson didn’t have a shot. Once his father got the ball rolling, the record producers, entertainment moguls and press all took their respective pieces of the Jackson pie. He was the product of a dysfunctional upbringing by Joe Jackson and all the “management”. And, by living in that horrific bubble, Michael Jackson never stood a prayer. And, in this case, freak frenzied consumers are equally complicit in his death.

  • http://softmelon.wordpress.com RAYN

    It’s always a loss when a human dies but when I heard them comparing his death to that of John Lennon, a cold shiver went down my spine. Michael Jackson was talented but not THAT talented.

    Not one song from THRILLER has stood the test of time to be played on the radio today.

    “Don’t stop till you get enough” is the only song you hear on a regular basis and only at cheese ball weddings and drunken corporate Christmas parties.

    I think the biggest tragedy is that he overshadowed the death of poor Farrah Fawcett.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    I, too, largely agree with Joanne, but I also concur regarding Jackson’s being a victim of his fame. He was truly a “man-child.” His normal development was stunted. He never became an adult.

    Nothing material was ever denied him. Anyone having the balls to say no to him soon found themselves out the door. MJ was the penultimate “spoiled child.”

    There are many parallels between Jackson and Elvis. Both had been at the highest level of superstardom. They both lived in a bubble supported by myth and money.

    Even so, Elvis has made far more money since his death than he ever did in life. That’s likely to be true of Jackson in the years to come. His reported one hundred fifty million dollar debt will be as nothing. Chump change.

    What I find almost equally disturbing are the rabid fans. People who have invested so much of their lives in devotion to Jackson – or anyone for that matter – are IMO pathetic. The phrase “get a life” really has meaning in this regard.

    The coverage of Jackson’s life and death since he passed has been so ubiquitous as to render news of Sarah Palin as a welcome respite.

    Look at the number of celebrities who have died in just the last couple of weeks. They’re dropping like flies. Maybe it’s the Swine Flu.

    B

  • Clavos

    Well done, Joanne.

    It needed saying.

  • J.B.

    I am a huge Michael Jackson fan for many reasons. One being he awakened my imagination as a child. My childhood would have been pretty boring if he wasn’t around to “thrill” me. He was also polite. He made being “nice” cool in my opinion. Yet, despite my admiration for him, I appreciate your comment. I think it is nice to admit he was not perfect. He made obvious mistakes. I always thought it was publicity when those “stunts” occurred. I always thought it was part of his persona. A modern-art. Yet after he died, the truth–or most came out. He appeared to be a man who needed help. I would have never believed it when he was alive. Now, it’s regretably true.