Posted by: Rob | June 29, 2009

The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks

Now, I don’t know if Michael Jackson ever had any tour dates in Greece or not; the post title is from an old Eagles song and the tie in is the “freak” part because, in my opinion, Michael Jackson fit that label.

I only ever listened to any of Michael Jackson’s music in a peripheral way.  In the ’80’s you couldn’t avoid it, really.  It was on the radio and on television as the media picked up on the fervour and hyped it up to astonishing levels.  I never bought a single recording of his.  Not one.  Nor any other piece of Jackson fan trash.

In fact, other than those times when the media placed Michael Jackson squarely in my face, I never gave him a second thought.  And, I now patiently await the day when MJ-related headlines disappear from the top of my news reader.  I already hide anything entertainment-related and how the aftermath of MJ’s passing can be considered “news”, I have no idea.

I abhor the American cult of celebrity.  I don’t understand it, really.  I fail to see how so much “value” can be placed on individuals whose “talents” contribute nothing to the world, other than “entertainment” and tabloid fodder.  I am saddened, also, that Canadians have willingly imported this idea and are making it their own.  Is life really so uninteresting that you have to devote your energy to being the consummate “fan”?  Pity.

Although I recognize that I am in the minority, I am not entirely alone.  Alicia penned an excellent essay on the hooplah surrounding the deaths of “celebrities” and the resultant mourning sickness.

 Annie wrote a bit for her grog, again solidly re-establishing herself in the minority, inviting criticism for saying what many others think but are apparently afraid to say themselves.

However, the topper came from one of my regular reads this morning.  Jim Kunstler writes thought-provoking essays with uncommon flair.  Today’s piece – the man in the mirror – strips away the gauzy veil from Jackson’s existence and ties it in to his usual theme about how the US is driving at breakneck speed down a highway all the while ignoring the signs warning of a “BRIDGE OUT” ahead. Here’s how Jim sums it up:

When he dropped dead last week, the nation’s morbidly maudlin response suggested a cover story for the relief of being rid of him and all the embarrassment he provoked. One CNN reporter called him a genius the equal of Mozart. That’s a little like calling Rachel Maddow the reincarnation of Eleanor Roosevelt. A nation addicted to lying to itself tells itself fairy tales instead of facing a pathology report. Yet, like Michael Jackson, the undertone of horror story still pulses darkly in the background. The little boy who grew up to be the simulation of a girl was really a werewolf. The nation that defeated manifest evil in World War Two woke up one day years later to find itself stripped of its manhood, mentally enslaved to cheap entertainments, and hostage to its own grandiosity. Maybe in grieving so exorbitantly over this freak America is grieving for itself. All the loose talk about “love” from the media and the fans gives off the odor of self-love. America is “the man in the mirror,” the gigantic, floundering Narcissus, sailing into the stormy seas of history.



  1. Wow.

  2. I never thought he had any more than a squeaky voice. And given what we know about him, I can’t imagine what people see in him. John Lennnon was a bigger talent, and I don’t think he got this much press when he was murdered.

    I understand he died deeply in debt. What caused people to lend him enough money that he died owing $400 million? His day was long over.

  3. I agree. I think that most celebrities get paid handsomely for their work, but does any amount of money compensate for the invasion of privacy they often suffer. All of the stupid Entertainment Television shows that report on every burp and fart from your favorite celebrity, and the banal tabloids reporting on who gained weight and who was cheating on whom. It is all too much.

    I have my favorites, of course, but they are still just people. They are going to do the same stupid things other people do, and have all the same imperfections we all have. Just because they have more money, and are more recognizable than regular folks, doesn’t make them of any more value.

    On Michael Jackson, I think it is very telling that his family rushed in to get all his belongings from the rental home, only the day after he died. Wouldn’t most people wait till after the funeral before they started worrying about those things. If you are worried about theft, just hire guards, they can afford it. I think they had suspicions of what might be in there, and what it might confirm about Michael Jackson.

  4. Everyone enjoys a freak show, no matter how un PC that might be to admit. Back in the 80s he was a legend, I cut my teeth on Thriller, and BAD, and Billie Jean. But yes, in later years, a badly damaged and rather sad figure.

  5. i was sad when Kurt Vonnegut died – not because of his celebrity, but because we’d lost a great thinker, feeler and writer. reasonable amount of grieving for lost talent…

    yep. kid could sing and dance. he’s dead. so fucking what?

  6. Bruce Springsteen seems to have handled his fame and place in history quite nicely. They’re not all train wrecks.

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