Saturday, June 27, 2009

Death. Mourning. Maybe.

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.

7 comments:

Renee said...

I'm pretty sure we don't even have to agree to disagree on this one. I agree that the man was a train wreck. I just have a lot of empathy for train wrecks. I feel for him, and I think it's sadder to see him die, because he was past redemption in this world. That's some tragedy right there, especially knowing what he had to offer, under all that crazy.

It could be that the people you see as mourning an icon are really mourning more for the "What Could Have Been" of a man's life. Isn't that what most mourning is anyway? I think that's why Farrah and Ed haven't struck a nerve. They lived long lives, and they died without disgrace.

Renee said...

Also, obviously, I believe he contributed more than Farrah or Ed to my world view. So right there, he gets more notice.

If you really feel sad for Farrah or Ed, I say, go for it, celebrate those two. But to do it out of spite seems kind of weird. Just saying.

Anamika said...

The tendency to deify dead celebrities seems to cross cultural boundaries. I have seen this as much in other parts of the world as I have here. But then, my take is, beyond the initial couple of days of mourning or maybe interest in the news, most normal people go about their business as usual. Much of it is the media trying to make the most of the news.

Given last week, I can't help but remember Diana and Mother Teresa's death within a few days of each other. Granted Diana did charity work also. But I don't think you can ever compare Mother Teresa's life of service to humanity to that of Diana's. But the way the media coverage went, one would have thought their work was comparable and in general Mother Teresa was a passing coverage here and there...

Renee said...

The last thing I said sounded bitchy. I was going for "casual" or something like it. Stupid internet.

Homer said...

I'll just clarify a couple of things:

1. My interest/sadness/giving a shittiness in any of these cases is limited to about as long as it took me to write any of these posts. All three of them were about as culturally relevant as the other currently, each existing as an artifact of an earlier age. I really, really don't care.

2. Outside of this singular fact: dude was a pedo. Shoulda been in prison. The reason I wrote anything about him other than a comment on Renee's blog was the fact that for the past two days I've been in the gym and all of the televisions are either showing ESPN (which is good) or CNN (which is not). CNN has been going non-stop (speaking of which their CNN special "The Man in the Mirror" will be airing at 11 pm tonight!!!) with analysis, and general time-wasting 24 hours a day since the announcement of his death. WTF? Now I am going to get wall to wall coverage of the BET Awards red carpet with commentary and opinions about our loss? What did we lose again? When was his last relevant moment? People who haven't molested children die every day and no one gives a shit. It kinda got to me.

3. Agree, or disagree, it is okay, that is what makes the world such a wonderful place. Now onto more important things. Like which celebrity is going to go into rehab next (my money is on Lohan. Whenever anyone asks any question about which celeb is going to do something stupid the right answer is always Lohan).

Sheri_Beri said...

Did anyone have Billy Mays on their list??

I LOVE the comic Kat Williams and I think his view of Michael is dead on. In Pimp Chronicles I, Kat talked about how he keeps things at his home for his "bitches", Alize, silk pillow cases, etc... He wants women to feel comfortable when they come to his home. He said if you liked little boys, what would you do? Build a theme park? Make everything in your home exciting for young boys...

On another level, I get it was shocking. Ed and Farrah were expected. Ed was old. Farrah was going through her battle in the public. MJ was only 50. I loved his music. I loved his videos. As a performer, minus his horrific looks, he was exciting. WAS. Yes, he inspired MANY other artists. In as much as Elvis will be remembered, so shall MJ. As evil a thing as he did, I get that his music is iconic.

But Homer... I too am sick of all of the specials and media coverage. Is it really necessary to find out how everyone at an awards show or all of these celebs feel about his death? What are they going to say that's so different? So what is the point of asking? We get it.

Kristin said...

Amen, Homer.