Stars Don’t Die Like You and Me

I wanted to hear the latest news on President Obama’s trip to Russia, but when I turned on the TV it was MJ all the time. A mild annoyance came up then at the live coverage of the memorial which followed a couple of weeks of non-stop idol worshiping.

Here are some of my favorite quotes of the event, according to Alessandra Stanley in this New York Times article:

“There was nothing strange about your daddy,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said, addressing Mr. Jackson’s three children, Prince Michael, 12; Paris, 11; and Prince Michael II (a k a Blanket), 7. “It was strange what your daddy had to deal with.”

Nancy Giles, an actress and CBS News commentator, said on MSNBC that he was “a trailblazer in the same way President Obama  is.”

and my favorite:

Shepard Smith of Fox News, speaking over the music in almost syncopated beat, noted: “He was a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There were days when on the cover of The New York Post, he was just ‘Wacko Jacko.’ But today, just moments ago, his daughter reminded us all he was also, Daddy.”

I recognize Mr. Jackson’s talent and I understand the pain that his early death must have caused his family — especially his children — and the sense of loss to his many fans. I didn’t join in the mourning or the celebration. Most times when I drive by the scene of an accident, I refused to look.

Certain things about the events surrounding Mr. Jackson’s death I don’t understand. I don’t understand the way some people, a great portion of them grown men and women, left friend, family, jobs and other responsibilities in far-away lands to travel to LA to be a part of the event. I don’t understand why no one spoke of the facial disfigurement, bordering in self-mutilation, that took place before our eyes over the last two decades. I don’t understand why a young single mom would categorically deny that Mr. Jackson molested a child, accusing the kid’s parents of greed instead, as if she had first hand knowledge of what had transpired behind closed doors. I don’t understand a black preacher claiming Mr. Jackson opened some doors for black Americans when it seemed that Mr. Jackson was rejecting his own blackness by transforming himself into a white man. And I certainly fail to see the benefit of allowing a young, grief-stricken daughter to face an audience and the cameras to talk about how much his father meant to her in the presence of his casket.

Superstars and their families live in a slightly different world than most humans. A world of incredible privileges and benefits which are sometimes paid for with sanity and a piece of soul.  The success that MJ achieved in his lifetime seemed to carry with it a price he couldn’t afford. All the material and creative assets that he possessed were obscured by the liabilities. These bankrupted him in the end. And a worldwide audience was watching.

I was finally able to see a report on the President’s trip to Russia, along with the latest from the unrest in China and an update on the New Orleans school district improvements on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer. They also did a piece on the memorial service for Mr. Jackson. At the end of the show.