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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Michael Jackson: How Will He Be Remembered?

posted by Nell Minow

Michael Jackson was a complex and tragic figure. It seems that his memory is being splintered into a thousand shards. Always a showman and a shrewd manager of his brand, Jackson reputedly insisted that he be referred to on MTV as “The King of Pop,” and in today’s memorial, it is that part of his persona that will be saluted. But it is certain that we are in for an avalanche of sordid, inflammatory, and self-serving revelations from those around him.
I’ve seen two especially thoughtful commentaries that seem to me to be a counterweight to all of the fraught and overwrought media hysteria. The always-insightful Mark Jenkins wrote about the way the media has overplayed Jackson’s impact.

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It’s been a long time since Michael Jackson penned a hit song, but he did write one last nationwide sensation: the script the mainstream media has followed since his death. Jackson, we’re told, was the “king of pop,” who had “the biggest selling album of all time,” and “broke MTV’s color line.” Every one of these dubious factoids was devised by Jackson or his agents.

And Stephen M. Weissman, the author of Chaplin: A Life, commented on Jackson’s fascination with Charlie Chaplin. The photo of Jackson dressed up as Chaplin is haunting.

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Like Chaplin, Jackson also went on to literally become a world historical figure and iconically beloved to his worshipful fans and admirers. And, like Chaplin, Jackson eventually became enmeshed in scandals that nearly destroyed his career. And also like Chaplin, the nature of those scandals stemmed from their separate cases of arrested emotional development.

  • http://www.myspace.com/expressimage Bert Saraco

    Although anyone’s death is a tragedy, the media’s over-obsession with every phase of Jackson’s passing is symptomatic of our culture’s frightening lack of real spiritual roots. We desperately clutch and grasp at anything that even vaguely smacks of spirituality in an effort to fill the ‘God-shaped hole’ in our souls. We don’t want to encounter a Messiah that might actually require a confrontation with our true selves, so we look for a feel-good substitute: a savior that requires nothing more than the shallow emotional fix of a pop-culture grief session.
    Yes, this was sad. But like Jackson himself, we want our toys and entertainment is one of our Big ones. We lost an entertainer and some people are investing more ’emotion’ into this than the death of a beloved family member. Have we become so emotionally detached from reality that we need to manufacture emotional connections to celebrities and reality programming?
    God help us.

  • Marie K

    How sad that the public and the media (including this article) overlooks the real tragedy here: What an adult who has been verbally and physically abused looks like. Why would Michael want all that press? Simple: children of abuse are always searching for love and attention ANYWAY they can get it. And conversly, the MEDIA LOVES any piece of info on a celebrity that they can get their hands on so they can distort it to sell magazines, newspapers, ratings on TV etc. Sorry, but the media isn’t as innocent as it tries to portray, that’s what they get paid to do. So hang it up already! He (as were a lot of adults) raised duing a time that abuse was acceptable and accepted. Along with the fact that as a young child, he couldn’t go anywhere alone since he was always being hunted down like an animal. Girls sceaming at him and tearing at his clothes. Geez, think about it, any child going through that would have a hard time becoming a normal adult. I cried hard watching Michael’s memorial service, not because I was a huge fan of his, but because he was my first “boy band” when I was 5. Seeng a young boy on stage when you are a young girl is fascinating. I cried because a part of my past had died. I cried while seeing his children and remebering my owns father’s death at 51 years of age and my reaction to it as a child myself. ANd YES GOD loves him too, you cynical Christians out there, because we are ALL made in GOD’s image, including Michael! LEAVE HIM ALONE ALREADY or YOU ARE TO BLAME for keeping him in the media spotlight and contributing his abuse! See the cycle?

  • phyllis ellsworth

    Wow Marie K, You’ve put my feelings into prespective.
    Same thing with me, I cried at the service when Paris Jackson spoke and yes, I thought of my own Dad who passed away and yes, Michael was the first Posters and Bands I had on my wall at age 10, although I later moved my crush to Jermain. I loved the Jackson five and the Osmonds, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy etc.Everytime a person passes away that I have known of since my Childhood it feels like my past dying and I feel in awe and slightly afraid that I am still here and they are gone.
    It also helps me put death in to it’s proper place in life and in my mind. I have learned and have grown alot since losing my Dad and I understand it all more clearer now in the last 10 years. This is life and God has plans for us here to begin and afterwards to go on.
    The lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. We are so lucky for his Grace & Love!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks so much to all of you for these very thoughtful and insightful comments. Jackson exhibited all of the signs of a survivor of abuse — and of an exploited celebrity. A terrible tragedy.

  • Your Name

    I loved Michael Jackson, when he was just 9 yrs old and I saw him in concert at the young age of 11 yrs old. I will miss him like he is one of my close family members. He and I had some things in common, to bad I didn’t get a chance to share them with him. I understand Michael and the things he did and the songs he song and the children he helped to put a smile in their hearts and minds and on their cute faces.
    NEVER SO TRUE – LAST WORDS/TOUR ; THIS IS IT!!!!!!

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