Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Let Him Be

It's over, call it a day
Sorry that it had to end this way
No reason to pretend
We knew it had to end someday
This way

(Written by Nat Kipler / John McIntyre Vallins)

Johnny Mathis sang those words 30 years ago but he could easily have been singing about the circus the media has created around the Michael Jackson situation.

Personally, I stopped really being a "fan" back in the late 80s/ early 90s, when Michaelmania was in full swing. The easiest way to turn me away from something is to assert its popularity, and no one could doubt MJ's popularity in those days. I did manage to come into possession of his Off the Wall album -- yes, an actual vinyl album -- though I didn't buy it, I borrowed it and then the owner gave it to me while preparing to move. I really am sorry his life had to end the way it did, going into cardiac arrest of all things.

That drugs were somehow involved, though, was not much of a surprise to me, once it sank in that he really had died, that the news was not yet another Internet hoax. After all, it was reported far and wide that he had fired his kids' nanny, Grace Rwaramba (sp?), after she had tried to arrange an intervention over his drug use. The stated reason for the firing wasn't slander (accusing him of something untrue with malicious intent) but betrayal (airing business that was supposed to remain private), a tacit admission that he'd had a problem. And being surrounded by yes-people from that point on could only mean more and more of the same. The only mystery was if he would wise up and kick the habits (yes, the plural is intentional) or if he would succumb to them. We now know the answer...

But now that Michael Jackson, who has been treated anew like a personified media event rather than a person, has passed away and is soon to be buried, let's let him rest. So what if he cut his children's mother and his own father out of his will? What business is that of ours?

So what if his financial matters are a tangled web? That money is already well-earmarked, and the scrutiny that the press wants to give it won't change anything.

So what if he wasn't the biological father of the two oldest children? He may not have been the father but he was definitely the Daddy, which in the end mattered much more to those kids.

So what if he was alleged to have molested kids? First off, they were just that -- allegations -- from people who seemed more concerned about payment than justice. And what if they were true? I don't at all condone molestation or harassment of any kind, but come on, the man's dead. Let him rest without having to rehash the seedier stretches of his past. Pete King, a New York politician, expressed his frustration with all the press coverage Jackson's death has garnered, and I can sympathize with the frustration one hundred percent. But why did his statement have to include characterizing Jackson as a child molester, pedophile, and "lowlife"? If King had to vent, it should have been at the media outlets pumping up Jackson's passing to pump up their own ratings so they can make more money off soap commercials and liquor ads. Calling a dead man names is no better than digging in the sewer for sludge to throw at the hearse as it passes on the way to the funeral. I have real reason to doubt King would stoop to that in action, so why do it in words?

And now, of course, the merchandising machine is revving up, churning out CDs and DVDs and books and magazines and any kind of tacky souvenir someone would be willing to buy. And, if Tupac Shakur's situation (and Elvis Presley's) is any indication, it won't be long before some deluded fans and even a so-called investigator or two claims that "Michael Jackson is not really dead! He faked his death because [fill in your preferred rationale here]!!" The rational I'd pick is the number of unreleased recordings that will come out. One of the major beefs that the more vocal disgruntled recording artists have with the industry is how much unreleased music the labels hold onto, waiting for artists to either die or hit it big down the road with another label.

Whatever thoughts people have about Michael Jackson, what he accomplished, what he was accused of, what he could have accomplished if he'd done things differently, it doesn't change what has happened. He has come to the end of his road.

Let him be.

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