Friday, June 26, 2009

The Media Way of Death

Well, I suppose the is a reasonable place to consider the death of the "King of Pop".

Given the astonishing abuse of his body through needless drugs and needless surgery, I guess fifty was not too bad an innings, but as usual the po-faced media will glory in the shroud waving: no cliche will be left unstated as the endless recycling of the story of "someone you've heard of dies unexpectedly, relatively young" now allows them to make more sales.

It is not pretty.

I can not make too many deep statements- I suppose his best song was "Billie Jean", which is not exactly a meditation, even if it is a good record. Was he a pervert? On balance probably yes. Was he a victim? On balance, probably yes to this too. Beyond those two questions, and his music, I wonder how many people would really be able to work out what particular message this particular short-ish life gives us.

That we are all mortal? We should really all know that.

Talent does not insulate us from the pain of living? We knew that already too.

Bad parenting can twist you? A message that I hope his orphaned kids do not have to learn: but the lawyers are already circling.

The problem is that, whatever the media may try to pretend, death is not exceptional.

Perhaps the kindest thing we could do is to show compassion to those who are so close to death- try to treat them with respect and dignity.

The problem is that all of us are indeed so close to death that we can touch it.

We just pretend and try to ignore it.


Newmania said...

One thing that no-one ever mentions and I have always wondered why not is that his voice did not break.
He hit the top at 10 with perhaps three to four years of that amazing treble , imagine the agony of approaching anonymity quite apart from the money . The drugs you could use to delay puberty are readily available and I imagine it started that way.
He was , I am certain ,a castrati ,albeit a chemical one and you will recall that it was just that magical alto voice that was so admired in another age .I suspect this and other drugs were in part responsible for his growing peculiarity , he had after all done everything that is worth while by the age of 26 or so , he was only 21 when off the Wall came out .When I see him I think of the broken and crippled East German athletes their bones withered form the hideous levels of hormones they were force fed

I loved his music from the joy of ABC through the superb middle period of Shake your body and Show you the way , the two great Albums and then the sad decline .He may well have become something evil along the way , it’s a tale with a Faustian fascination though , to deform yourself so utterly in pursuit of a kind of perfection.

Caron said...

Do we have to learn anything?

I think for many of us around our age, his music, groundbreaking as it was at the time, formed the soundtrack to our teens. He had a remarkable talent and that deserves to be honoured.

The rest of it? Well, I would err on the side of no on the pervert question. I have more of a problem with the way he assumed the role of both parents with his children, denying them the active presence of their mother.

Clearly there wasn't much peace in his life, but that's no different from possibly the majority of people.

I think it's appropriate that he should be commemorated for his music. Saturation coverage in the media of a major star's death, particularly when it's not of old age, is not unusual, and never has been. We just have more media these days, available round the clock, at the touch of a button.