There is a great disturbance in the pop-culture Force.
Michael Jackson is dead. He who has been in my vision for as long as I have been aware of the wider media universe, who has acted first as the ultimate definition of cool, then of wretched excess, then plain ol'what-planet-is-this-guy-from weirdness...isn't there any more.
I did not expect to be nearly as moved by this as I am.
Well, perhaps moved is the wrong word. Something more along the lines of what happens when you try and go home again. Your worldview has been so comfily arranged for so long that when a piece is removed the whole thing feels unsettled for a little while. Farrah Fawcett, who also died today, was undoubtedly a beautiful, talented and courageous lady, and my heart goes out to those who knew and loved her, but she had no such niche in my memory.
The Jackson family apparently took a few stabs at being Jehovah's Witnesses over the years; our belief system revolves around a final resurrection to a Paradise earth. The great tragedy of Jackson's life is that something - a whole lot of somethings, all of which will be lovingly analysed in exhausting detail over the next weeks, so I don't have to - drove him to try and recreate that Paradise here and now, in this system of things. By the time he was done he'd pretty much canonised himself Lord Protector of All That is Pure & Innocent Amen.
As many of your major works of literature have observed, an imperfect human playing God is never a smart idea. Playing God with American celebrity culture for a throne...now that's just prime cosmic comedy.
So we laughed - and then cringed, as you do when the joke just goes on way too long, reveals way too much. Then...finally left, shaking our heads.
A lot of us did, anyway. Unfortunately (speaking of great tragedies) a sense of humour is not universal among the human race; never mind perspective. So a lot of other people bought wholeheartedly into Saint Michael. The misunderstood emissary, mocked and bullied by a world too jealous and shortsighted to appreciate his Vision.
This is what I'm really afraid of now. That natural guilt re: slandering the dead will translate into a huge backlash of mindless sentiment. A warm collective glow will arise from the media - which after all has been ready with fists poised melodramatically over breasts ever since the Britney circus - and suddenly the World Will Understand. Perhaps he really was a saint, after all!
Um, no. He was a humongously talented kid that warped into a sad, strange monster, finally unable to cope with reality to such an extent that - guilty of an actual crime or not - he honestly didn't see anything wrong with his taking little boys to bed. I'm not even sure if a proper understanding of what led to all this would be worthwhile, so little of it applies to real life. It'd be like holding Howard Hughes up as a warning example of overwork among businessmen.
Which is infinite.