OK, I've had enough!!!
Am I the ONLY one out there screaming "Enough Is Enough Already"?!?!?
After literally EVERY major network and cable channel devoted at least a part of their day yesterday ... and, in some cases, upwards of 12 HOURS of their day yesterday ... to The Michael Jackson Memorial, haven't we ALL really had enough now?
Jackson died almost two weeks ago ... and for every bit of these past two weeks
virtually EVERYWHERE we've turned we've been bombarded with Michael Jackson ... even at the PEAK of his career, when it may have SEEMED as though he was everywhere we turned, we didn't have THIS amount of media saturation!!!
Not to say for a moment that he wasn't a great talent ... he was, in fact, an ENORMOUS talent ... there's really been NOTHING quite like him. Michael took music, dance and video, combined them all into something that ONLY Michael Jackson could pull off, and elevated it all to a whole new art form ... unlike ANYTHING we'd ever seen before or since ... and, in the process, captured the hearts of the entire world.
But this latest media event approaches ... even surpasses ... Princess Diana proportions ... for all his talent ... and for all the great music he left us ... Michael was NOT a saint!!! Yet we seem to have made it our mission to elevate him to some sort of sainthood!!! Let's not forget that for MOST of his adult career, we called him "Wacko Jacko" for a very good reason!!!
Between his fascination with sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, a desire to purchase the bones of the so-called Elephant Man, a perhaps TOO close relationship with Bubbles, his live-in chimp, erecting a living shrine to Elizabeth Taylor, building and maintaining his Peter Pan Paradise, Neverland (at reported costs of about a million dollars a month!), what can only be described as an addiction to plastic surgery (I've seen estimates as high as 50-60 procedures!), skin-bleaching and now the revelation of his dependency on prescription drugs of MAMMOTH proportions, Michael Jackson was, in plain, simple facts, one strange dude!!! (Even stranger ... many of the most outrageous stories printed about him were planted by Jackson himself in order to stay on the front pages of the tabloids he would then criticize a short while later for not "leaving him alone"!!!)
And this doesn't even take into account all of the inappropriate sexual behavoir allegations that ALSO kept him in the media and on the front pages for years ... but suddenly, in death, this has all become fodder for a different time ... right now, we're told, let's just remember and appreciate the music. While his biggest, worldwide fans will quickly point out that Jackson was ultimately acquitted of these charges (at a payoff of what's estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty million dollars ... a pretty expensive neighborhood, wouldn't you say?!?!? ... and really, why would ANYONE pay twenty million dollars to proclaim their innocence?!?!?), this legion of fans cling to this acquittal as some vindication of Jackson's innocence. (Forget the fact that we're talking about Michael Jackson here for just a minute and tell me ... honestly ... is there ANY 40-something year old man living on the planet that you would feel comfortable with inviting young boys to come to his house and share his bed?!?!? ANY one ... ANYWHERE?!?!? Or would you, as a parent ... or simply as a sane adult ... want this guy locked up and put away somewhere???)
Yet we have elevated Jackson to an almost sainthood position SOLELY on the basis of the fact that his music made us FEEL good.
Well, it made ME feel good, too ... but enough is enough already!!! Come on, America, get a grip!!! Enjoy the music ... and pick and choose your favorite memories if you like ... but enough already with this elevated status.
Jackson's memorial service was beamed all over the world yesterday, watched by literally tens of millions of people ... perhaps even a HUNDRED MILLION people ... who wanted to express their love and say goodbye. Over half a million people entered an online lottery for 20,000 available tickets to witness this event live at The Staples Center in Los Angeles. Traffic was stopped and rerouted and, beginning at 10 AM California time people stopped whatever they were doing ... wherever they were doing it ... to watch the live telecast. NEVER before has this amount of mass grief been witnessed ... Princess Diana came the closest but I believe Michael Jackson even surpassed this. Certainly the world was shocked and stunned at the loss of John Lennon and Elvis Presley years earlier ... and worldwide grief and vigils were the calling of the day but we still never experienced anything even remotely close to this type of mass media saturation.
Elvis and The Beatles changed the musical world. They were innovators that impacted EVERY phase of culture ... music, movies, television, fashion, attitude. We've never really experienced THAT kind of culture shock since. Michael Jackson was a two-time superstar, first as a member of The Jackson Five in the early '70's and then again as a MEGA-star when he reinvented himself as a solo artist in the early '80's. Because stars of Elvis and The Beatles proportions were not forthcoming ... and we very well may NEVER experience the likes of which again ... we elevated "familiar" stars to mega-star status. (Hadn't we just gone through this same scenario in the '70's with The Bee Gees, a '60's act that had run its course and even split up, only to reinvent themselves to unfathomable proportion once the disco craze hit? Suddenly, since we didn't have anything on the musical horizon of Elvis or Beatles caliber, we were elevating "retreads" to superstar status!) Not that Michael Jackson wasn't worthy ... he certainly was ... as big as Elvis and The Beatles were, I don't think EITHER ever truly captured the love, excitement and adoration of the entire world the way Michael Jackson did. Certainly Elvis and The Beatles were HUGE ... the mania surrounding these two artists may never be surpassed ... but there was something "global" about Michael Jackson that appealed to HIS worldwide fans on a completely different level.
But when all was said and done, he was a pop star ... period. A pop star of mammoth proportion to be sure ... in fact, he named himself "The King Of Pop" ... and instructed those around him ... and the media ... to address him as such ... but when all is said and done ... at the end of the day ... he's just another in a series of dead mega-celebrities who leaves behind kids of questionable parentage (one of whom, let's not forget, he dangled out a hotel window!!!) ... a controversy regarding his sexual morals and a record of an overwhelming addiction to pain medication that makes Elvis pale in comparison.
And about that pain medication ... are you REALLY shocked by this? Between his hair and scalp starting on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial, breaking his leg while rehearsing, herniating a disc in his spine when he fell off a stage, untold plastic surgeries and skin bleaching procedures, taking hormones to keep his voice high and youthful and a work-out routine commitment to defy the aging process of any other 50 year old, I can't even IMAGINE how much REAL, intense pain he must have been in ... and we need to accept the fact that this was the REAL Michael Jackson ... not the comic book superhero he portrayed on stage and screen.
A tremendous performer? Yes. Tops in his field? Without a doubt. Did he leave behind a musical legacy that will last several lifetimes? I have to believe that he did. Did he help to change the world? I have to believe that in some capacity, he did. Did he help to HEAL the world? His charity efforts are legendary ... the good that Michael Jackson did throughout his career almost outweighs the bad ... almost. Michael, we'll miss your music ... and, quite honestly, some of your crazy-shit antics cracked us up ... and made for some entertaining pop culture moments (in a Trivial Pursuit sort of way) ... but it's time to move on and take a long hard look at the WHOLE picture. Michael Jackson WASN'T perfect ... nobody is ... but there also aren't a whole lot of people that we come across in a lifetime that are equally as talented and messed up all at the same time!
And it ain't over yet ... Michael Jackson's Memorial Service was beamed around the globe, viewed by perhaps as many as a hundred million people ... and highlights will continue to be broadcast for days to come. More and more details will emerge about Jackson's "behind the scenes" lifestyle ... toxicology reports will reveal the extent of his drug use ... there will be battles about his will and several more books will be written purporting to tell the REAL story of Michael Jackson's life ... and we STILL won't be any closer to the man because we're all so wrapped up in the legend and the spectacle.
And what about that memorial? Touching and moving? To be sure. The list of celebrities who were there almost makes you overlook the list of celebrities who WEREN'T there. Ex-Girlfriend Brooke Shields ... but not ex-wives Lisa Marie Presley or Debbie Rowe??? ... Motown Mentor Berry Gordy, who let The Jacksons slip away because he didn't believe they had the talent to write and produce their own material ... but not Quincy Jones, the man who helped Michael realize his vision and elevated him into the musical stratosphere??? ... Smokey Robinson and Lionel Richie ... but not Diana Ross??? Overweight Black spokeswoman Queen Latifah ... but not Oprah Winfrey??? And all the talk from the likes of Magic Johnson and Reverend Al Sharpton telling the world about all that Michael did to advance African-Americans when, in fact, Michael did everything humanly (and financially) possible to make himself look as UN-African-American as possible ... what the heck was THAT all about?!?!? Yet you couldn't help but get choked up when you watched and listened. (I couldn't help but wonder what Michael's family thinks ... tight and loving as they all are ... when they see the barrage of photos of Michael throughout his career ... and the OBVIOUS and RADICAL changes to his look ... do they silently shake their heads and wonder "What was that boy thinking?!?!?" or do they do what WE do when WE attend a family funeral or that of a loved one and whisper "Yep, that was Michael!")
Love the music ... remember the way it made you feel ... enjoy the moment and relive the memories ... how Michael Jackson will be remembered over time remains to be seen ... so for now, embrace the good. But really, I don't know that I can take much more than another day or two of this ... seriously, enough is enough!!!
In ALL the Michael Jackson press coverage I've heard these past couple of weeks, MUCH has been made about his collaborations with some of the best and the biggest in the business ... Quincy Jones, his producer, Lionel Richie, with whom he cowrote the anthem "We Are The World" (not to mention the superstar cast of singers who helped make that song a reality), Paul McCartney, who sang with him on the hits "The Girl Is Mine" and "Say Say Say", guitarists Eddie Van Halen and Slash, who make Jackson's hits "Beat It" and "Black Or White" (respectively) the huge, rock, pop and soul hits that they became, his brothers with whom he performed as The Jackson Five, his sister Janet, with whom he recorded the hit duet "Scream", his Motown Mentors Berry Gordy, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight ... but not once did I hear mention of the "comeback" song that The Jacksons recorded with Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones.
In 1984, their collaboration "State Of Shock" went all the way to #3 on the Billboard Chart ... and helped generate excitement for the upcoming "Victory" tour reuniting the Jackson brothers. Despite hearing The Michael Jackson Hit Catalog virtually non-stop for two weeks now, I never heard THAT song ONCE ... so we'll feature it here today as a deserving Forgotten Hit.
Michael Jackson was a true and deserving celebrity ... he earned the accolades he received as an artist and as a performer. Unfortunately, we now seem to live in a "Zsa Zsa Gabor Celebrity World" ... where you don't have to have done ANYTHING noteworthy to arrive on the front pages of the entertainment world. How sad that people like Paris Hilton or Heidi and Spencer or Jon and Kate today warrant the attention once bestowed on real, genuine celebrities with talent. We've even gone so far as to elevate the likes of crooked Governor Rod Blagojevich and likely murderer Drew Peterson to a manufactured celebrity status ... in what universe are these people worthy of our attention and our reverence? (Can you imagine some "wacky" radio host inviting Richard Speck on his program to play "The Dating Game" after killing those seven nurses?!?!) Have we stooped SO low ... are we SO starved for attention ... that THIS today constitutes our need for role models?!?!? C'mon America ... get a grip!!!