Open Thread for June 26, 2009

The King of Pop is dead at 50.

The King of Pop is dead at 50. The media circus has already started. The national crisis has assumed such dire proportions that MTV briefly reverted to showing music videos last night. Many are still in a state of shock.

How are you holding up? What are your thoughts about the man, his music, and his decisive influence on the course of global popular culture? And what’s your reaction to the full-court press in the television, internet, radio, and print media?

14 Comments on “Open Thread for June 26, 2009”

  1. Trevor #

    I think the shock of Jackson’s death has a lot to do with why it’s suddenly at the top of every broadcast on the 24-hour news networks (and Fox News). He’d flirted with returning to prominence so many times over the past decade, and then retreated from view, that it’s hard to believe that he could really go away for good.

    On the whole, I think now’s not really the time to highlight his sexual molestation stuff, at least not as the lead in the story. There will be plenty of time to examine what his legacy is in terms of his criminal cases (especially if new light is shed on what he may or may not have done).

    The weirdest in memoriam so far was on the NFL Network, which took a moment to observe Jackson’s passing. It reminded me of the “in memoriam” reel at something like the Grammys, where celebs who may have only had a passing association with music are honored when they pass away with a tangential clip or some highlight from their career that includes music. Jackson, of course, performed at one of the early 90s half-time shows of the Super Bowl. Hard to imagine that Michael Jackson and football would be a natural marriage in light of his post-93 career and personal downward spiral.

    You can question on some level whether his passing really merits this much scrutiny and attention (I mean, there’s still violent deaths going on in Iran, for instance), but someone of his status, no matter how tarnished (or perhaps because of how tarnished he became) deserves some mention.


  2. Gab #

    I agree with Trevor. I saw a cartoonist on CNN this morning that got flack for making one showing the devil talking to St. Peter about MJ, saying, “Wanna flip a coin?” He mocked Tweets saying it was tasteless by dismissing them as members of the Jackson family, and he defended himself saying something like, “As a cartoonist, if I’m going to draw a picture, I have to be honest and can’t just ignore the other aspects, blah blah.” My response to that is, then don’t draw a friggin’ cartoon about him yet. He has a choice, after all.

    There were other things I was hoping to talk about on the Open Thread this week, but it all seems so… hollow now that all of these people died this week.


  3. Ethan #

    Here’s what I think; It’s time people separate artists and their work. As an artist, there is no doubt that he is one of the greatest musical talents ever. As a person, well I’ll just say not great. So here’s the issue then, his talent died years ago. He hasn’t written anything worthwhile in years and while he could still entertain a crowd, it doesn’t compare to how he used to. But that’s the thing, you can still listen to all his music and watch all his videos. Those are preserved forever. His passing, of the person, deserves mention, but does not come close to meriting the attention it’s getting. He was not a good person and the world is not any better or worse without him. He had resorted to drugs, was a complete shell of his former self and was just tabloid material at this point. Sorry he’s gone, sure, but upset about it, hardly.


  4. Gab #

    Ethan: Can’t we be upset that the artist is gone? He was about to start that thing in London, and just because he hasn’t made anything new recently doesn’t mean his ability to entertain now has diminished. Fans still went crazy over him- those London concert tickets were the fastest-selling tickets in history. And I think this is *because* of that separation, almost as if he were two individuals. So yes, plenty of people *are* upset- at the loss of the artist, not the [insert negative alternative here].

    This is another example of the interesting stuff that goes on in Congress:

    And I’m rather in shock about this article:


  5. Megan from Lombard #

    a slightly different topic- anyone gonna watch the Doctor Who special on Saturday? It was the Christmas special and the beginning of it aired as the shows ‘Children in Need’ special.

    It looks like it could be really good and (unfortunatly) it starts the countdown to Tennants final episodes :(


  6. Amy #

    Elvis died in 1977; John Lennon died in 1980 and while I wasn’t alive yet, I’ve seen footage and pictures of the aftermath. The response to MJ’s passing is very similar to the catharsis that fans experienced for them. People form serious bonds with iconoclastic artists like these, because music often provokes such visceral responses within us; we imprint the songs in our memories and lives. All three men were so influential in music and subsequently our lives. We should give pause, we should let it all out, and then move on in a healthy way. What’s sad, is that the media outlets are going to use and abuse this story for weeks to come. Until those toxicology reports come back. The firestorm has only begun in the US and maybe worldwide. In Germany, “Der ‘King of Pop’ ist tot” graced the papers this morning.

    I am upset by his death, because I’m a child of the late 80’s, early 90’s and I grew up with his music, but by the same token, I’m very glad I don’t have a television here.


  7. Gab #

    Megan: Watched it. ‘Twas fun.


  8. Megan from Lombard #

    @Gab: really? awesome! I had to work during it but I remember to set the DVR…I’ll have to squeeze in time between my summer class and work to watch it ^-^


  9. Gab #

    Even more death: Billy Mays (the “Infomercial King”) was found dead this morning.

    Good grief, what the blazes is going on?


  10. Saint #

    I think that, when someone especially famous dies, we get the impression that lots of famous people are dying, even if they aren’t. The especially famous person’s death is a story for a long time, and at a higher level than other less-famous people who may die. That means that there is the appearance of overlap as news outlets try to keep writing about the super-famous death while other people die.

    It’s similar to the “election year” effect in politics: there are about the same number of elections on every even-numbered year, but on presidential election years, the added attention to politics makes more elections news, and the impression is that there are more elections happening on presidential election years.


  11. Marmaduke #

    @ Ethan:
    Michael Jackson was a mess. There’s no doubt about that. You say he was a complete shell of his former self, but are you aware of what he’s lived through up until that point? When you try to judge as to whether he’s worthy of your grief, you can’t separate the artist from the person because the artist was the person. His life’s work played a significant part in the individual he developed into. And while one shouldn’t use their upbringing as a crutch there’s no denying that a poor childhood (horrible abusive father + international fame at a young age) will do a number on your psyche.

    But if you do want to look at him as a person, you would see that he was a guy who suffered from multiple physiological conditions, demonstrated extremely poor judgement in those who he surrounded himself with (i.e. needy, manipulative families of young boys), and as a consequence eventually ended up depending on prescription drugs for his stress.

    But this guy was loaded and one thing he didn’t have to do was get involved in as many chartiable organizations as he did. One can write off a celebrity’s sincerity when they toss a couple million at one organization their PR suggests they support. But when they give significantly and constantly, when they make several songs and music videos, and when they actively participate in and organize socially conscious events it’s clear that this person has a compassion. Michael had a lot to give in the music world, the third world, and the world of those suffering through cancer, AIDS/HIV, and alcoholism.

    He was eccentric. He was too trusting. He was socially immature at the worst of times. He was frivolous with his money. He had too many facial reconstruction surgeries. None of these character flaws can compare to the impact he left on so many lives. Please don’t say he wasn’t a good person because of what the media has spun.

    And sorry about the rant. As a small disclaimer, I’m a fan of Michael Jackson’s music but I was never a diehard Fan. I just need people to realize that multiple factors create an individual and many events in their lifetime shape who they are and who they will become.


  12. Gab #

    @Marmaduke: Spot-on. I’d only add that because of his psychological trauma as a child, he was clearly suffering from multiple, diagnosable mental disorders: most notably, psychological evaluations of him state his mind regressed to that of a ten-year-old.


  13. Marmaduke #

    oh most definitely. I just wish those closest to him could have offered him better guidance. I’m not sure if he was getting help, though I doubt it. But they could have at least dropped some hints as to how this would look to everyone not living in Neverland. When Britney Spears shaved her head and the media had a field day, I was constantly reminded of him and his scandals.


  14. Gab #

    Yes, I think part of the tragedy is how those “friends” of his and his family let him behave the way he did in public and didn’t protect him from himself.


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