Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Grief & Folly


SOMEBODY WAS BOUND TO SAY what a lot of other people were thinking, and just because that someone was narrow-minded, reactionary blowhard Peter King, the Republican congressman from Long Island, doesn't mean his remarks were totally bereft of merit. King has made more than his share of outlandish statements over the years, but none caused a backlash quite like his Youtube video about the Michael Jackson media circus:
"Let's knock out the psychobabble. He was a pervert, a child molester; he was a pedophile. And to be giving this much coverage to him, day in and day out, what does it say about us as a country?"
You can question the timing of the comments -- but considering that half the country and most of the media seem to have lost their mind over the last 10 days, I thought if nothing else King provided something of a balance to all the over-the-top idolatry. I mean, pharaohs have been buried with less ceremony and adulation. But then of course as far as we know the King of Tut never busted out the moonwalk, did he?

Speaking of psychobabble, if there were an award for Most Cringe-Inducing Commentary on Michael Jackson's death, rap "artist" Jean "I need that Grammy" Grae would definitely be a contender, given her gushing, near-hysterical column in last week's Village Voice:
"I'm lucky and blessed to have been one of the millions who received Michael's magical, awesome, immortal presents/presence ... I'm not going to speculate on any of the controversy, the darkness--we all have, all of us. I can't judge anyone, and I won't ... No, I never met Michael Jackson. No, never even got close. But if he wasn't the most brilliant sliver of magic alive, I don't what is or ever will be."
Writing about Jackson but refusing to deal with the child molestation charges or talk about his tortured visage is like mentioning Richard Nixon but avoiding the Watergate scandal. By the same logic, when Phil Spector dies, I don't want to hear anything about his personal flaws or murder conviction... only uncritical, non-stop coverage of all the hits he produced in the '50s and '60s and the joy he brought to millions. Anything else would be disrespectful to his family and fans.

By all means, feel free to call me a "playa hater," but Jamie Foxx has always struck me as an unfunny, arrogant, ignorant, overrated, overbearing-narcissist-even-by-current-Hollywood-standards, jive-ass fool -- if I can still say that on the Internets -- so his remarks at the Black Entertainment Awards came as no surprise to me, but I'm glad others took notice of his needlessly exclusionary remarks: "We want to celebrate this black man," Foxx said while wearing an absurd Michael Jackson costume. "He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else."

Perhaps most disturbing was the almost unhinged tone in Foxx's voice as he spat out those words, channeling the vitriolic rhetoric of a Malcolm X as opposed to Jackson's lifelong message of racial inclusion and tolerance a la Martin King. Put me down in the camp that hopes Foxx's career bombs from here on out.

Continuing the charade, P. Diddy lent some much-needed ghetto gravitas to proceedings with his astute historical observation: "Michael is one of the reasons Barack Obama is president." Let me guess, P: your own career spent mumbling hip-hop cliches into a microphone and coming up with mad whack beats is another reason, right? I guess we all voted for Obama because we just knew his moonwalk put McCain's outdated dance routine to shame.

Rent-A-Reverand Al Sharpton was predictably omnipresent, holding court at seemingly every ceremony, offering more of his tradmark overgeneralizations and exaggerations:
"Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama ... Blacks never abandoned Michael. When Michael had the problem with his catalog, he came to Harlem and we marched with Michael. When Michael was indicted with the molestation case, black people stood by him, all the civil-rights leaders, and were criticized for being there."
At the Tuesday memorial, Ervin "Rent-A-Center" Johnson used his 3 minutes at the podium to relate that Michael Jackson somehow made him a better basketball player, and that he believed white fans brought his jersey into their homes because Michael was already there. Then Magic became the first person to work a product placement into a memorial service -- admitting that the best moment of his life was learning the King of Pop ate Kentucky Fried Chicken. Would it surprise anyone if it turns out Johnson was paid by KFC for the plug?

There's no other way around it, so I'll come right out and say it: After that garish funeral-palooza at the Staples Center, there are an awful lot of folk who need to take a good long look at the Man in that Mirror we've all heard so much about the last two weeks.

Looking back, that surreal tribute to Michael Jackson in a Philippines prison on June 27th was a dignified, classy celebration compared to what our own twisted celebrity culture had in store for us.

For me, the prevailing image of the whole spectacle will remain Joe Jackson -- an octogenarian ludicrously sporting a hoop earring -- repeatedly plugging his new record label -- only because someone else brought it up first, mind you. Four days after his son's demise, here was Joe and his business partner, the equally "opportunistic" Marshall Thompson, announcing the formation of Ranch Records -- because that's that Michael would have wanted.

In one clip, a CNN reporter repeatedly asks how the family is holding up, while a distracted Jackson appears far more concerned with bringing up the record label. Nice to see the gruesome exploitation continue after death.

9 comments:

jimithegreek said...

spot on!s

Love Bites said...

You've been reviewed.

Sarah said...

Peter King is 100% spot on. Seriously.

justin said...

Nice one Warden. This whole Michael Jackson thing has made me sick and I've avoided it all as best I could. Thanx for putting words to what I could only imagine was going on with this thing. Never been a Michael fan even in the slightest and regardless of his acclomplishments never found any reason to respect him. Even though his music was definately not my music, I was trying to find a positive in all of it and thought there was something to be said for a society that gave so much attention to a creator of music (there is nothing so noble as the art in music). The reality is that his was pop music and to me it is a reflected spectacle. Food for the masses and their gluttony. People just eat that shit up so what does that really say about our society or maybe just human beings in general as we glorify a superstar or just a sad tortured man. The whole thing really bummed me out man.

Angel said...

I do agree with you about it being impossible to mention Jackson without mentioning all the scandal surrounding him in the last few decades, and I agree that there are no words to describe how over-the-top the coverage of his death has been. It has been absolutely disgusting to watch dozens and dozens of people who wouldn't have spit on him had he caught his hair on fire again suddenly declare their undying love and adoration for this mortal man.
However, I have to disagree with you, as well. For one, I think you may be forgetting one very important point: Spector was convicted of his crimes.
Like it or not, for now anyway, we live in a society that says Jackson was found not guilty by a juroy of his peers. Therefore, he was innocent.
I don't know if he was guilty of what he was accused of because apparently I am one of the very few people on this earth that did not meet him andshare an intimate friendship with him. I cannot personally testify to the loving son, brother, friend, and father he was like so many people seem to be coming out of the woodwork to do/say.
He was a very talented music artist that did play a large role in ushering in a new era at the beginning of the MTV age, and that's all I know about him. (By the way, it's my humble opinion that Mtv was the beginning of the end for real music, but that's a whole other blog post.) If everyone else had admitted thats all they knew about him, too, this whole absurd circus would never have happened.

The Warden said...

Angel, I never denied his talent and popularity. Technically, he wasn't convicted, but he did pay an awful lot of money to make sure the charges went away. Not to make a direct parallel, but O.J. was acquitted also and most people seem to think he had a hand in the unsolved murders of two people. Not to say Michael killed anyone, but his defenders live in a la-la land where nothing he does is open to criticism. Thanks for your comment.

Angel said...

Warden, you know what cooks my ass about this whole thing, anyway? Where the hell were the parents? One, if a man molested your kid would you take money from him to keep your mouth shut? And two, WHO worth breathing the same air as the rest of us allows their kids to spend nights with total strangers just because they're pop stars?!
If he really did it, then not only should he have been punished, but in this particular case, so should the parents! (I get emotional easily, obviously)
Oh and by the way, your post about this is the only one I've bothered to comment on because it's the only one that ranted with intelligence. Thanks for the discussion.

The Warden said...

Justin: It bummed a lot of people out! The media had its perfect excuse: We're just giving the people what they want... night after night after night.

Thanks for the comment, Angel.

As bad as Michael's behavior was, let's assume he always had these problems but no one around him intervened. Didn't want to stop the gravy train, so they enabled. The whole family just creeps me out.

What's almost worse are all the people who camped out in front of the courthouse, all kinds of sickos and weirdos, who were so sure of his innocence. I saw a clip of a woman releasing doves into the air after he was acquitted. That was disturbing on a lot of different levels -- but at least it worked out okay for the doves!

ib said...

Could it possibly be mere coincidence that my most recent DMCA Take Down appears to have been prompted by representatives from Sony ?

Probably. I'm just a paranoid motherf@cker.