June 26th, 2009 · 10 comments or link to (permalink)
[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?