Thoughts on the Death of Michael Jackson
The life, death, and career of Michael Jackson are now ubiquitous. Turn any media on, and there it is, staring you in the face. I first found out by flipping my cell phone on and staring at the Yahoo headline. It seemed ill-fitting that such news was first shared between me and my phone. It’s as if I expected another human to deliver such news, the death of a pop icon.
What are we to make of all the media attention to Jackson’s death? What are we to make of the life and career of Jackson? Entire books will soon be released on all of this, so I won’t try to compete (nor am I capable) with the experts. Nor will I try to provide a savvy analysis. Instead, let me share some reflections by Andrew Sullivan
I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.
I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours’ and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.
And Carl Trueman’s thoughts, which I found insightful:
I never liked Jackson’s music but he was clearly a hugely popular and talented entertainer. And he continues to entertain in death — not just because his records can be played but, at least for a week or two, because the media are able to play his death as one more big showbiz event, burying the tragedy of real death, real bereavement, and really shattered and terminated relationships under the schmaltz of the faux-bereavement of his fans through the sanitizing and distancing medium of television and video. Of course, the response to his death by the people on the street says a lot about the importance of entertainment in our age, indeed, about the idolatries of the modern world. But is also tells us something about the entertainment media. Like casinos in Las Vegas, come rain or shine, the House always wins.