Friday, 26 June 2009

The World Mourns, Apparently

The circus is in town, lead by ringmaster Uri Geller - who said that he wouldn't comment until doctors had confirmed Jackson's death. So much for his psychic powers.

Jackson had no emotional resonance for me and I didn't like his music but his cultural resonance and place in music history can't be ignored. It's quite an achievement to slow down the whole Internet. 

As with any death, there is a whole range of responses.

A lot of people are confusing 'I'm sad' with 'It's sad', which is generally followed by 'isn't it?', making it hard to disagree without appearing callous. 

I don't buy the equally subjective 'It's sad when anyone dies' line. A celeb death may be a memento mori for some people but there's also the peer-group pressure to join in the feel-good inclusiveness of feeling bad. Not being sucked in makes you cold, hard, unfeeling and so on. It also makes those who have succumbed feel judged. Rather than consider that they may be investing too much for the wrong reasons, they cast any dissenter as the bad outsider who is easily dismissed. 

It's also a lot easier to lament when you don't have to deal with the practicalities of a death as you do with someone you know (someone you really know).

If someone I admired died, I would feel passing sadness but to be honest, it would be a selfish reaction - sad that they would be producing no more films/books/songs/ideas etc for me to enjoy.

The flip side of the hagiography is the backlash (Jacklash?). Some people take great pleasure in evidence that being talented, rich and famous doesn't bring happiness. It's kind of the Revenge of the Ordinary. And of course there are the jokes. But not giving a toss, pretending to be bored by the coverage and the man, is cynical and facile, as much of a pose as wallowing in the 'tragedy'.

There will be great fun for the conspiracy theorists. My favourite so far is that he was going to cancel the London gigs and send everyone a refund cheque signed by him personally, banking (literally) on the fact that people would keep them either as a souvenir or as an investment. Genius.

I'll probably be coming back to this post as the bloated corpse of media coverage festers on.

Ah yes, apparently he invented being black. That's useful to know.

1 comment:

  1. The commemorative T-shirts appeared at Glasto immediately on Friday.
    'Jackson 4', being one of the more tasteful, I gather.