There are several indications on the tube that tens of millions of lower-middle-class Americans — that plague-culture of coarse, under-educated, fast-food-eating, mall-meandering, Transformers-loving fat asses — are experiencing some kind of profound emotional catharsis over the death of Michael Jackson.
The tipoff for me came last weekend when the folks who live upstairs, the fabled “Hispanic party elephants” who’ve earned their rep and then some by playing loud Latino dance music at all hours and then dancing to it like pachyderm storm troopers, began playing Thriller over and over. That’s when I knew that Jackson Death Mania had spread over-under-sideways-down
Why is Jackson’s legend and memory so big with so many? It’s not just because they loved Jackson’s sugar-pop music but, I suspect (and correct me if I’m wrong) because he lived in a manner that they themselves would love to savor — a kind of whimsically perverted, high-denial, candy-cane existence in which all malignancies are ignored or suppressed in order to satisfy each and every fantasy-dream whim, without compromise or hesitation.
This is why we’re truly doomed — why the country will never do what’s necessary to face much less avert whatever greenhouse-gas, ice-cap-melting apocalypse is coming our way. A nation that worships a monster like Michael Jackson is a nation of undisciplined “I want!”-ers and high-lifestyle drunkards. I don’t want to sound harsh but they’re the kind of manifestations that God wanted to get rid of when he got in touch with Noah. I can hear Morgan Freeman saying to Steve Carell right now, “Things are rancid out there — look at Jermaine Jackson on MSNBC! Look at Joe Jackson! — so I need you to build me a huge ark.”
Jackson lived an absurdly lavish, grossly indulgent lifestyle marked by constant escapes from everything and anything that didn’t feed or support his neurosis — plastic surgeries, all manner of prescription drugs, self-loathing behavior, twisted and predatory sexuality, absurdly reckless spending, and across-the-board Peter Pan values. He was the ultimate fantasy-tripping Frankenstein beast, and now there’s a nation of people out there who are reacting to his death as an excuse to celebrate not just his music but all aspects of the disease.
This tearful, feel-his-pain piece by MCN’s Kim Voynar is nothing short of disgusting. “I never found jokes about Jackson’s life funny while he was alive, and I find them even less funny in the wake of his death. This was a man who’d been used, abused and manipulated from the time he was just a little boy, chewed up and spit out for most of his adult life by the tabloid press, and it baffles me that anyone could find humor in the tragedy of his life and death.” Oh, by all means — let’s all cherish the memory of a ridiculously wealthy man who used the excuse of an abusive childhood to justify the most malignant famous-person behavior in history.
Assemble the ghosts of Abraham Lincoln, John Reed, Isadora Duncan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Alva Edison, James Dean, Bix Biederbeck, Cary Grant, Chet Baker, Michelangelo Antonioni, Edgar Allan Poe, Jimi Hendrix, Lillian Hellman, Federico Fellini, Leland Hayward, Jack Paar, Che Guevara, Django Rinehart, Tallulah Bankhead, Andrew Wyeth, Buddy Holly, Ernest Hemingway, Amelia Earhart, Louise Bryant and Eugene O’Neil, and sit them down before a high-def LCD screen and show them how the news channels are all spraying shorts over the Jackson frenzy, and they’d all be weeping on their knees in a matter of minutes.
The public funeral for Jackson at LA’s Staples Center on Tuesday July 7th is going to be a huge Diane Arbus event, like nothing ever seen or imagined. A Multitude of Grotesques. If I could afford it I would fly the hell out of the country that day, just for the statement value.
In short, a social convulsion of this sort is embarassing and sickening. I don’t live in Michael Jackson nation — millions don’t — but there are so many other millions who are sipping the Kool-Aid right now that it seems as if the whole country has gone nuts. Because the media is paying so much attention to this middle- and lower-middle class movement, because they know that’s where the sales and ratings and page views are.