Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP American Journalism

We didn't really need more proof that all of our supposed journalists who appear on TV are despicably trivial, but nonetheless we got it last night, in spades with the the wall-to-wall coverage of perhaps the biggest non-story of all time: The Death of Michael Jackson. There were hour and hours devoted to shots of his ignorant git fans lining up outside his last home and the hospital, and various people blathering about what a "major talent" he was.

Now it never seemed to me that Michael Jackson was a major talent, rather sort of a middling talent who had the good luck or sense (once) to work with good packagers like Quincy Jones. Even at the top of his game, Jackson was more than a bit ridiculous. The idea that he could even posture as "bad" was ironic in ways infintinitely resonant as a hall of mirrors -- which fact was clearly lost on Jackson himself. His act worked, sort of, sometimes, in a weird genderbending, ugly/beautiful way that was in fact pioneered by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, et alia. And for thanks, when Jackson Inc.'s variant on the formula proved outrageously successful, Jacko bought up the Beatles' song catalaogue, and pimped it out to adverstisers so that he could fill up his clueless life with distraction, deviance and bullshit.

So why all the attention? Jackson's story is neither inspiring nor instructive. It reads like a script cooked up by Herman Mankiewicz, Hunter Thompson and Philip K. Dick during a drug-fueled bender at San Simeon. I n a lot of ways it's an old story, old as Midas, old as Elvis, old as Citizen Kane. The moral: a life of pure self-indulgence grows hateful, warped and toxic. And make no mistake, Jacko's was a life almost wholly devoted to self-indulgence. There is little evidence that he knew or cared anything about literature, science, history or the world around him. True, he gave some money that he'd never miss away to charity, amid great fanfare, and he espoused some good causes in that self-aggrandizing celebrity way. But he also stiffed countless little people. Imagine how it feels to be owed big bucks now for llama feed, or legal fees, jet fuel or kiddie porn, money you will never, ever see.

I understand that he was a victim too, a child offered up to the same voracious demons of cheap diversion that filled the air waves with the non-news about his death. But so what? There were over 200 victims of one bomb in Bagdad yesterday, at least 76 of them just as dead as Jackson. Donchya think Olbermann could have spared a few seconds for them?


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