Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958 - ?

Unless you've been living on the dark side of the moon, without radio or internet contact, you're probably aware that Michael "King of Pop" Jackson died on Thursday, June 25th, 2009.* His death, as a friend of mine pointed out, did what the Iranian government could not- it stopped the internet, breaking Wikipedia due to an influx of updates, and taking down several major websites.

While I was shocked by the announcement, I can't say that I had the reaction that a lot of people are having. Michael is being revered as some kind of "God of Pop" now, not it's King. In death, all his past failures and indiscretions are being cleverly ignored or forgotten in favor of his music, his personality, but most importantly, the "way he was" before things started to go... weird. I really don't have a problem with this, however. I find myself remembering the good times too, like the first time I heard Black or White, and how, even at the young age I was, it brought tears to my eyes for having such a powerful message.

What I can't understand is the fevered obsession that has spread across the world with this news. It is an event that seems to be gaining as much media attention as September 11th. His funeral is being predicted as even bigger than Frank Sinatras.

Yet if death is the end, then, for me, Michael Jackson died somewhere between 1995, when HIStory was released, the last album that had songs in it I liked, and 2000, when things started to really turn weird for the King of Pop. By 2002 he had two sons christened Prince Michael and Prince Michael II, the latter of whom was also referred to as "Blanket". That was when I stopped listening to news about Jacko.

Please don't get me wrong. His death is of course a tragedy. Of course it is right to be mournful. But I feel the same way about Michaels passing as I do about a person killed in a car crash in Cavan. They both had the potential for greatness, an influence on so many peoples lives. They'll never get to do all the things they had planned. But I didn't know either of them. It doesn't affect me personally. Their loss, while sad, means little to my life and how I live it. It is their family and friends that will have to continue without them in their lives. The people who knew and loved them will have to live in a world that is a little emptier now. All these things are cause for sadness and silence.

But it is not cause for what we are seeing now. Millions across the world are mourning Michaels loss as if he was their brother. He is being called the greatest dancer and musician the world has ever known. According to the ticker on Sky News, people seem to think that we have lost one of the worlds absolute greats. Really? Eh... no. Not in my eyes.

And maybe I've just realized what my difficulty with the media attention is. Michaels death is not what is important here. He has gone onto wherever his beliefs will take him. A place where he can find peace. It is his family that must deal with the loss. Both his parents are still alive. He has eight brothers and sisters. Countless cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, family and friends. And they are who I am sorry for. They cannot grieve the way the parents and family of the car crash victim can. They are going to be surrounded by rabid fans and media for weeks to come. Leave his family to morn their loss. Leave them in peace.

What scares me most about this event is how fast the world knew. With internet, text messaging, twittering and a whole range of world-wide social networking systems, I found out about it while out at a meal, away from radios, televisions and computers. Worse still, according to his Wikipedia page, "Jackson was declared dead at 2:26 pm local time (21:26 UTC)" which is 22:26 Irish time. I was informed of his death at around 11pm, a mere 30 minutes later.

Will my death be recorded that fast? If it means that my family and friends can morn me in peace, then I hope not.

*- If that is the case, then how are you reading this now? Oh, and, sorry to break the bad news.