It is always interesting to see how our culture reacts to the deaths of our celebrities. This week has been fascinating to me with the deaths of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. Each one of these people were clearly past their prime productive years as entertainers, each one well past any real success, but the reaction to each passing has been different.
I am most dismayed by the universal love that Michael Jackson is receiving. I understand that he was such a cultural icon in his youth. I lived through it. I watched the videos, I listened to the music, and I was also paying attention as his life slowly devolved into a freak-show of his own devising. From the chimps, to the amusement park he built for himself, to the ghastly plastic surgery nightmare that became his face, he became his own worst enemy. This doesn’t even address the child molestation situations. I have heard people try to downplay the allegations as opportunist parents and a parasitic media, and I have to agree that these people have their own part to play in this saga, but no one invented the ‘Jesus Juice,’ or the adult alarms in his bedroom. Yes, Michael was a victim of abuse from his father, and his situation should be a warning to all parents who push their children into show business (the Lohans, Spears, Caulkins, etc could have taken heed), but this doesn’t absolve him of his responsibility to those kids who were around him.
So rather than deify a man so deeply flawed, I’ll celebrate the other two, who were both undeniably less influential (and neither was perfect by any means), but infinitely more respectable. Farrah and Ed, I tip my cap to you, and move on with my day. Maybe I’ll read a book.