Skip to comments.Bozell Column: The Jackson Whitewash
Posted on 07/10/2009 1:42:05 AM PDT by Zakeet
The Washington Post called it an "orgy of praise" and an "exercise in excess." They were referring to the star-studded, mega-televised Michael Jackson memorial service in Los Angeles. It just as accurately described the supposedly serious national medias weeks of outsized hyperbole concerning the life and death of a man who was a pop sensation, to be sure, but also highly controversial, even scandalous.
There certainly was the exercise in excess on the "news" programs. On the night of July 6, ABC, CBS, and NBC, paid twenty times more attention to Jackson (more than a week after his death) than to the deaths of seven brave soldiers in Afghanistan.
They were only tip of the excess iceberg. Jackson dominated every "Access Hollywood" and "Entertainment Tonight" show for two weeks. The memorial service aired on 19 different networks, drawing 31 million viewers. At least that exposed one piece of hype from the Jackson camp: that "a billion" global villagers would tune in.
Many people were touched by the Jackson tributes, and none were more heart-rending than his adopted daughter Paris declaring through tears that he was the best father you can imagine. How sad: No one can seem to explain precisely who is the biological father or mother of Jacksons children. Such was his family.
Its not hard to sense that someone behind the scenes is still seeking to milk the Michael Jackson "brand" for every dollar. Every network that plugged into this service was accepting a feed from the Jackson family, which controlled every frame of what people saw. Huge pictures of Jackson with his arms outstretched were an imposing backdrop, with Jackson looking either like a Christ-like religious figure or a willowy despot of a totalitarian Peoples Republic of Neverland.
You sensed that some celebrities werent there to mourn Michael Jackson. They were there to perform for his fans.
Behind this events financial agenda was an attempt not only to designate Jackson as "the greatest entertainer who ever lived," as Motown Records founder Berry Gordy proclaimed, but to deny the obvious. Reverend Al Sharpton came to the memorial, not to preach the gospel of Jesus, but to offer all his praises and hosannas to Jackson, praises which turned ridiculous. "There wasnt nothing strange about your daddy," he told Jacksons children, "It was strange what he had to deal with."
What? There is nothing more self-evidently untrue than to claim Michael Jackson wasnt strange. What was he? The Washington Post asked: "Boy? Demigod? Alien?" Time magazine claimed he "seemed so remote as so be extraterrestrial the moonwalking moon child." In a People magazine timeline of photos, he looks like he underwent 25 facial surgeries, which turned what was a handsome man into a walking freak-show headliner.
What made Jackson strangest was his refusal to stop sleeping with young teenage boys. He settled the first sexual-abuse charges in 1993 with a huge $15 million-plus settlement an action that hardly clears him of the taint of child molestation. Even after that settlement tainted his reputation, he damaged it further by continuing to declare to TV interviewers that his outsized attention to young boys was utterly normal.
On "60 Minutes" in 2003, Ed Bradley asked Jackson if he thought it was acceptable to share his bed with children. "Of course," Jackson said. Even after the allegations and innuendo? "I would never stop helping and loving people." In 2005, ABCs Martin Bashir asked again, and Jackson gave the same answer: "Why can't you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone."
What the media frenzy over Jacksons death may have accomplished is a whitewash of this disturbing record of behavior. The Washington Post described the memorial service as "the completion of Michael Jacksons 12-day transformation from ostracized to beloved."
Some cultural commissars claimed the musical genius transcended the cloud of molestation. Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic magazine wrote, "Woody Allen wooed his wife's adopted daughter, and may well be a child molester. But I think Bananas makes me laugh. Mike Tyson is, among other things, a convicted rapist. But I had not lived until I saw him demolish Trevor Berbick. And so on. I guess I could peel these people out my life. I guess I could stop separating art from men. Regrettably, I think, I wouldn't be left with much art worth admiring."
This attitude suggests a very dangerous angle to celebrity worship. Once you can make us laugh, or dance, were so self-absorbed it doesnt matter if youre a rapist? Lets hope Coates wouldnt add O.J. Simpson to his analogy. But millions of Americans did precisely that, as evidenced by their refusal to admit he butchered his wife and her friend. Such is the state of our popular culture today.
Another ‘hero’ different time:
Death and Transfiguration
Friday, Mar. 05, 1965
Malcolm X had been a pimp, a cocaine addict and a thief. He was an unashamed demagogue. His gospel was hatred: “Your little babies will get polio!” he cried to the “white devils.” His creed was violence: “If ballots won’t work, bullets will.”
Yet even before his bullet-ripped body went to its grave, Malcolm X was being sanctified. Negro leaders called him “brilliant,” said he had recently “moderated” his views, blamed his assassination on “the white power structure” or, in the case of Martin Luther King, on a “society sick enough to express dissent with murder.” Malcolm’s death, they agreed, was a setback to the civil rights movement.
...In fact, Malcolm X in life and in deathwas a disaster to the civil rights movement...
It’s most interesting that Diana Ross, named as potential guardian of the children and original owner of the face, did not attend the funeral. Also, Elizabeth Taylor who is supposed to be his best friend declined to give the eulogy and also didn’t attend. Two of the most important people in his life didn’t show up but all the has beens and hanger oners did.
I want the media to explain how MJ went from being black to being white, yet his kids went from being white kids in previous internet pics to some mixed raced dark skinned kids at the funeral. The legacy of Joe continues.
“The Jackson Whitewash”
The irony of this headline by itself is almost unbearable!!
an attempt not only to designate Jackson as "the greatest entertainer who ever lived," as Motown Records founder Berry Gordy proclaimed,George M. Cohan would beg to differ.(1)
And, 'The Chairman of The Board'.
(1) When I was a kid, eons ago, my Grandmother would call me at times 'Peck's Bad Boy'. Until I grew up and finally saw Yankee Doodle Dandy, I had NO idea of what she meant. :-)
This attitude suggests a very dangerous angle to celebrity worship. Once you can make us laugh, or dance, were so self-absorbed it doesnt matter if youre a rapist? Lets hope Coates wouldnt add O.J. Simpson to his analogy. But millions of Americans did precisely that, as evidenced by their refusal to admit he butchered his wife and her friend. Such is the state of our popular culture today.'
Bozell scores a 100 for those two paragraphs alone. While I do admire Michael Jackson's accomplishments as an entertainer and musician, he like many a celebrity in Hollywood, led a lifestyle which left much to be desired and isn't a paragon of marital stability or an example for raising children.
Essentially he needed psychiatric help, probably from childhood,... due to his success he could buy stuff, but not happiness.
Once addicted his choices were no longer free and those around him helped kill him.
Its not hard to sense that someone behind the scenes is still seeking to milk the Michael Jackson "brand" for every dollar.
Yes, I've seen quite a few staff wearing Michael Jackson memorial shirts in school this week.
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