So for me, the problem has not really been the amount of Michael Jackson coverage (though I have to admit being surprised--I would have expected this magnitude if he'd died perhaps 15 years ago, but not now, so far removed from his hit-making days and with so many years of freakishness and lurid allegations under his frilly cloth belt). As I said the day after his death, I was a fan of Jackson as an entertainer. It's the tone of some of the coverage that is getting really, really carried away.
Today puts the capper on it. This comes from Professor Cornel West (via John Kass in the Chicago Tribune), who desperately needs to have a drink and lie down for awhile:
It's almost like a crucifixion, in terms of the cross you have to bear...We reap the fruits of the resurrection, in terms of the power that emanates from [Jackson's] sacrifice. He sacrificed his childhood because he loved us so. He didn't just entertain us, he sustained us.Yes, Joe Jackson so loved the world, that he sent his five begotten sons....
The rhetoric of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Michael Eric Dyson, and the usual collection of hucksters has been little less hyperbolic than West's. And all of this raises a few questions. For instance, when did Michael Jackson, who spent the last 20 years of his life trying to erase any vestige of his blackness, including (according to some reports) having "his" children conceived from the donated issue of another man so they wouldn't be black, suddenly become an African-American messiah?
Let's make something clear. Michael Jackson was not sacrificed by anybody, nor did he sacrifice anything for anybody. America did not "fail to appreciate him" as his brother Jermaine has laughably claimed over the past couple of weeks. Jackson made in the ballpark of $500-$700 million in his lifetime because people liked his records, videos, and concerts. He was on the cover of every major magazine dozens of times. Even now, he's receiving day-and-night coverage, 13 days after his death. America gave him all the attention he deserved and hundreds of times more. He was an extremely talented but very, very weird guy who made some horrible (and possibly criminal) lifestyle choices, and also made more than the GNP of some small countries off of a fawning American public. He made no "sacrifices," nor was he in any sense a savior of anything or anybody.
Okay, he had a tough childhood. So do about a billion Third World kids--and they don't get to spend the rest of their lives spending millions on choo-choo trains to recapture what they thought they should've had. The fact is, all things considered, America gave Michael Jackson a shot at an exceptionally good life, and he got to create for himself an idyllic childhood that lasted about 30 years longer than a real one would've.
So Cornel West, Al Sharpton, Jermaine Jackson, and a bunch of their media enablers need to relax for a few days before they say something embarrassing.
As if these guys were capable of being embarrassed.
Michael Jackson Cornel West John Kass Al Sharpton Jermaine Jackson Michael Eric Dyson