"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

Jackson Dies, Media Industry Rejoices While Pretending Not To – oh, and how to nail your Moonwalk

[Mass Moonwalks have already been organized in London and Vienna. Here is an instructional video so that you can nail it and join in.]

Jackson was weirder than Elvis and sold more records, ergo instant media bonanza and Internet meltdown. Nothing like a premature celebrity death to keep the ailing newspaper industry from its long overdue one or the Internet from spreading sanity-threatening, pandemic memetic flu.

You see, the Internet is a giant pile of interconnected tubes which has the principal function of amplifying celebrity and thus revealing that the vast majority of humans are sheep. An entire country twice the size of France may be on the brink of revolution but no matter, Michael Jackson has died and the heat generated by overloaded server farms threatens accelerated global warming. Google originally thought that the number of queries it was receiving today was a Denial of Service Attack.

Anyone dying is sad, but as Andrew Sullivan points out, sadder than Michael Jackson’s death, was the normal life that was stolen from him from childhood. It’s the only sensible point I’ve seen today, other than Gawker which taking its traditional ‘meta’ stance and instead of morbidly following the Jackson wake is doing an autopsy on the media coverage itself. Gawker points out that in country where libel laws don’t extend to the dead, having been charged on 4 counts of child molestation is not going to make this pretty in the long run.

This is a rare opportunity (the last one was possibly Princess Diana’s fatal car crash) to look at what happens when ordinary humans temporarily become weirder than Jackson himself, with emotion either genuinely felt and therefore often hysterical, or cynically milked and therefore deplorable. The lasting story here will be the supra-normal reaction of the fans and of the media.

Here is a small roundup of media absurdity so you can switch off your radio, unplug the TV at the socket and tape up the windows for the next 48 hours.

The BBC, under the headline: “Africa cries for Michael Jackson“. is reporting that Michael Jackson’s brother, Marlon, is planning to develop a hybrid slave history and Jackson Five theme park in Nigeria, where, In Lagos, a Radio Continental presenter broke into uncontrollable weeping live on air and her co-presenter had to take over.

Back in Britain, the BBC has some choice quotes from Jackson’s UK bodyguard:

Everyone thought he was this weird freak, but when you’re with him he’s as normal as everyone else“. Is he blind? “We used to dress him up and sneak him out of his hotel room and do normal things in shops“. Lets be straight, playing ‘lets do normal things in shops’ is not a normal game.

The Tampa Liberal Examiner claims that:

“‘Weird Al’ Yankovic wouldn’t be ‘Weird Al’ without those infectious Jackson parodies“, missing the obvious point that Weird Al would have been, in fact, a whole lot weirder if he’d done a straight up imitation.

Zeenews India wins the worst headline of the day award with a painful attempt at poetic metaphor:

‘Moon walk’ into dreadful shadows

while the San Francisco Chronicle wins the most pretentious, staying on the Moonwalk theme:

…billions of humans disagree about the nature of God. But everyone knows what the moonwalk is.

The sycophant award goes to Deepak ‘I knew Michael personally, we were best friends’ Chopra on Beliefnet:

I sat with him for hours while he dreamily wove Aesop-like tales about animals“. Not something I’d be able to sit through without narcotics, personally.

The Web and Twitter are awash with adolescent ‘nobody understands how I feel’ self-indulgence so I’ve picked out only one sample via WJZ Baltimore which is no more atypical or less bland than thousands of others:

I was @ a concert and I was a contestant at all Michael Jackson look-a-like contest! it will hard to cope with his death!!” Oh well, we still have his double. Seriously though, what kind of sadist organizes a Michael Jackson lookalike contest for kids?

My favorite quote so far, however, is this one from Hitfix:

It’s always the little strange details about someone that super-famous that stick out“.

What, tiny details like him changing from a six foot African American man to a bad wax works’ white version of Diana Ross with a child’s voice?


10 comments on “Jackson Dies, Media Industry Rejoices While Pretending Not To – oh, and how to nail your Moonwalk

  1. Dan Westlake says:

    Michael Jackson made a vast number of truly amazing records. No other artist came to close to his mainstream popularity while also being almost universally recognised as a genius by musos. He proved that amazing music and commercial success are not necessarily mutually exclusive. He was also a more or less peerless performer. When he comes to be laid to rest I think it would be a beautiful touch if the pallbearers carry Michael to his final resting place while doing the the moonwalk.

    Dan Westlake

  2. hntrnyc says:

    Bravo David for verbalizing what many think but too few say. With everything going on in the world yesterday, Cable News' switching to full time coverage of this singular story was both astonishing and sickening.

    1. Dan Westlake says:

      Complementing David while complaining about the over exposure of Michael Jackson's demise is startlingly ironic. Can't you see that what David, yourself and myself are doing is exactly what the cable stations you are complaining about are doing???

      here is an interesting link about the effect MJs demise has had on bandwidth:


      Dan Westlake

  3. A noisy mouse says:

    Uhm, some poster on you tube said this: Michael Jackson was truly, a 'smooth criminal'. He stole the moonwalk from Fred Astaire, the Beatles rights from Paul McCartney, and a day of mourning/tribute from Farrah Fawcett. and not Fred or Sir Paul or Ms. Fawcett could "beat it."

  4. Tom Foremski says:

    I was hoping that here at least, on Smashing Telly, there would be at least place that was MJ free :)

    It's a strange effect how his music sounds so much better, it's as if someone had secretly remixed and remastered his songs, because I don't remember them sounding this good, this genius…

    Stevie Wonder is going to sound out of this world.

    1. david galbraith says:

      "I was hoping that here at least, on Smashing Telly, there would be at least place that was MJ free"

      No such luck, just like people were obsessed with Jackson when he became a freak, I am morbidly obsessed by what freaks people have become who were fans.

      I like Michael Jackson in the same way I like car manufacturers – i.e. I like nothing he made after the 70s. I always though that Thriller was an overwrought piece of tasteless crap.

      Give me the Jackson 5 any day.

  5. Tom Foremski says:

    PS: It's so sad that MJ had no friends to tell him he was in the ozone layer. Very sad. How come Deepak didn't say anything to him instead of listening for hours to his animal fantasies? I thought Deepak was deeper than that with all his PBS guru shows.

    1. david galbraith says:

      I'm surprised you think that Tom? Isn't it obvious that Deepak is a shallow social climber, not the kind of friend that anyone would want?

      Isn't it also pretty clear that when anyone becomes rich, famous or powerful that they both solicit and attract those who tell them what they want to hear rather than what is good for them.

  6. hntrnyc says:

    Saw the Martin Bashir interview from 2003 with MJ over the weekend as it was such a car wreck I couldn't help looking . How anyone could watch this and not get completely creeped out by Jackson is beyond me. He (MJ) actually vehemently denied having any plastic surgery except on his nose, which he explained, "so I could breathe better and hit my high notes."

  7. Marc says:

    Yeah he was a little fucked up because his daddy fucked him up and not easy either to deal with all that fame and money especially when you got fucked up childhood.

    He deserves respect though. And George Carlin is right: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uC8LSV-j2g

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