In the midst or retrospectives and tributes, I find myself still a bit too bitter to cry over some of these public Michael Jackson tributes.
Maybe it’s just me but my concern is two-fold. Stars and regular folk alike are publicly expressing their love for Michael Jackson’s music now. Media are also paying a modicum of attention to things of which they so thoroughly ignored for at least the past 15 years.
What is drawing my ire is the larger scale of what’s going on now after Michael Jackson’s death with the increased interest in his music and skyrocketing music sales.
As fans, observers and/or social commentators, he knew we existed before he died. He knew we loved, adored, cared, and/or supported him BEFORE he left this world.
As a collective subset of the public, we went out and bought his music BEFORE he died. Some of us screamed outside the gates at the 2005 trial in Santa Maria BEFORE he died. We wore t-shirts with his pictures BEFORE he died. We sang his music BEFORE he died.
We fought with family members, friends and know-nothing media hacks over the subject of Michael Jackson BEFORE he died. Some of us even made up songs or changed the lyrics to preexisting songs and sang them to him (in our own little worlds) BEFORE he died.
We knew he wasn’t perfect but we made sure he didn’t leave this earth without knowing how much he inspired us. He knew he was like water, like air to some of us BEFORE he died. He knew how much some of us were pulling for him to straighten out his personal life BEFORE he died.
And he was able to feel that love and to appreciate it while he was still here.
__…Till the moment your eyes open and you know__
NOW people want to pay public tribute to him? NOW they want to talk about something other than his proximity to children? NOW they want to focus on the upcoming tour?
NOW they want to try to understand the importance and serenity of Neverland? NOW some want to internally criticize their colleagues for irresponsible and disrespectful coverage focusing on sensationalistic bull$hit?
The concern comes just in the nick of time, huh? Where were these people when he needed them?
Seeing all this, I’m about a thousand times more bitter than I was before he passed away because this is too little, too late.
We tracked down facts and studied unsubstantiated stories to such an extent that when we heard their regurgitated versions, we knew it was crap.
We poured over pages and pages of courtroom transcripts from the trial — when Jackson was tried on false molestation allegations — to such an extent we could almost quote obscure testimony in our sleep in 2005.
We’ve been screaming at the top of our lungs about the importance of this man before he died.
He got treated like $hit. His family relationships were criticized, and his kids were (and still are) talked about like they are inanimate objects.
Every time he would open up to the public, he had people figuratively chopping his head off, or using his openness against him.
To be blunt, if he left this Earth thinking you thought he was a piece of trash, I don’t give a rat’s a$s about how much of a contribution to music you now think he made. It’s too late. It means nothing now that some are trying to figure out why he was so important to the rest of us.
All of a sudden the rest of the nation wants to remember how important he was to music and social change. All of sudden his history-changing videos are the main topic of conversation. All of a sudden it doesn’t matter if his nose was big or small. All of a sudden pity is bestowed upon his childhood and lifestyle after years of him begging to be understood. WTF?
In the words of my illustrious mother: That’s some low-down $hit right there.
__…All the things I ever wanted you to know__
Know-nothing hacks and highly irresponsible members of the media who continue to chase unsubstantiated stories down rabbit holes all over the world still haven’t learned their lesson from the way they covered Jackson during his lifetime.
Yet they continue to be surprised at the general public support and respect towards Michael Jackson.
During his lifetime, this collective ‘they’ were all in a big bubble of group-think. They thought everybody else in the country felt the same way about Michael Jackson as they did. They even had some of the public believing that the rest of the public despised Michael Jackson.
Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, the panel included Don Lemon and Sharon Waxman. Of course they tackled the media’s coverage of the story.
You may remember Waxman’s name because she was once accused of swiping unsubstantiated rumors about Jackson’s finances from fired Fox 411 gossipmonger Roger Friendman.
Waxman made room for a certain sense of regret in the way the media storm raged around Jackson during his life. From the panel discussion:
Waxman: Another thing is also we’ve spent a lot of years beating up on Michael Jackson. I covered many aspects of beating up on him business wise, and the child molestation thing. And what I think we’re realizing in all of this is hey, he was actually a nice person.
Lemon: A real person.
Waxman: I can’t tell you how many people have — a real person, an interesting —
Waxman: I think there is a sense of him in the media of, of feeling badly — of regret in the Michael Jackson thing. Honestly there is a little bit of that haze of expiation in ‘gee, he was kind of fantastic’. (crosstalk) … Badmouthing him… (crosstalk)
Lemon: She’s absolutely right.
That’s why some members of the media seem to be caught totally off guard (Chris Matthews, Howard Kurtz) or continue to be totally tone deaf/brain dead (Keith Olbermann, Nancy Grace) on the topic of Michael Jackson.
My conflicted bitterness towards all of this ill-timed sympathy — this need for understanding — will remain unchanged until lessons are learned and Jackson’s name is cleared.
My loathing towards those whose saw in Michael Jackson not a human being, but rather, a walking dollar sign will remain unchanged.
That goes double for the lazy, mediocre, gutter-garbage-chasing members of a particular profession which have, up until now, generally deserved to be met with skepticism and contempt.
Until this collective ‘they’ learn their lesson about ‘their’ collective treatment of Michael Jackson — and learn it in a very embarrassing and public way — they can all go to hell.
Moreover, the thousands screaming in the streets to pay respect to Michael Jackson, I can only hope to God most of you didn’t wait until now to suddenly discover his importance.