Monday, June 29, 2009

And Then the Vultures Come: On Death and Exploitation

I promise you this will be my last Michael Jackson post for a while. But I just have to say this one thing. I just have to get this out before I can move on to the other things I have planned for this week.

You know, I guess in the back of my mind, I knew it was practically inevitable. I guess I should not have been so surprised. But Michael Jackson’s death was so sudden and unexpected, I was a little off-kilter for a brief moment and let my guard down, all the while forgetting the proclivities of my fellow man. However, by early Friday afternoon, the blinders were beginning to fall away and reality began to set in.

Less than twenty-four hours after the announcement of Michael Jackson’s death, as I drove down Winchester Boulevard in Memphis, Tennessee, I saw the hawkers already out selling boot-leg Michael Jackson “memorial t-shirts.” Less than twenty-four hours! And Womanist Musings notes that merely hours after his death, hawkers were selling t-shirts outside of Ronald Regan Medical Center where he died.

And what about the media? In the last several years, positive news reports about Michael have been few and far between. At times, the media seemed more like a hostile cheering section counting down the seconds to his ultimate demise. They reported each and every incident, each and every setback, each and every peculiarity, with a seemingly unbridled glee. But from Thursday evening on, the same media that lambasted him, that ridiculed him, that treated him with nothing but scorn and derision, led the lovefest that ensued following his death.

But I reserve the very worst of my opprobrium for the opportunists turned “long-time friends and confidantes and Jackson family friends” that populated the airways. There seemed to be no shortage of people “in-the-know.” It seems that a host of people at some time or another saw the harm Michael was doing to himself and to his career with his continued and worsening addiction to prescription drugs.

And at some time or another, let them tell it, each and every individual comprising this host, attempted an intervention of some kind or another but to no avail. But the more I listen, the greater part of this host seemed to have a vested interest in a confused and drug-addled Michael. The greater part of this host didn’t push too hard for fear of being shoved away from the feed trough and losing their place.

And could someone please tell me at what point did Uncle Reverend Jesse Jackson become the Jackson family spokesman? Perhaps, the family did request his services, but from where I’m sitting, it smacks of opportunism.

You know, I don’t really know why I’m so personally offended or even if I should or have the right to be. I was never an over the top Michael Jackson fan. But from the time I was a child, he has always been there on the cultural landscape. And gradually he transformed himself into the best known entertainer in the world, an icon. So, I recognize and respect him for that and for his talent and artistic vision.

But perhaps my right to object comes from the fact that first and foremost he was a human being, and even in death, perhaps especially in death, he and his family deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. But I guess human nature is impossible to overcome. Perhaps it is in our nature to always seek an advantage, to seize the opportunity.

But in the same instance, it still doesn’t seem right. First, you are reeling, trying to wrap your mind around this thing, trying to regain your equilibrium. And then the next thing you know, the vultures come.

How much of the coverage of Michael’s death is sincere adulation and how much is outright exploitation and how do we know the difference? Do we have the right to offended and why?


KST said...

Pretty much agree with your entire post. Amazingly, the only person that I believe when they say (write) that they loved him and tried to help him is Lisa Marie Presley. Hmmm... The media is only covering a small portion of what she has written.


Hi there,

That is just wrong... some people just don't have a conscience....

Kim said...

What has disturbed me most is Joe Jackson hawking his new record label on the Red Carpet of the BET awards, which was really the EBT Awards, but i digress. I know Michael and Joe had their issues, but your child has died. I need you to show a little more feeling. I know we all handle grief in different ways but I did not expect him to talk about new business ventures..

Max Reddick said...


Strangely enough, I now believe Lisa Marie may have actually married him out of love. But maybe I am being mislead.


I am always amazed at the level people these days will sink to. People do things my conscience would never allow me to do. I don't know how the live with themselves.

@ Kim

Joe Jackson is a pimple on the backside of humanity.

Citizen Ojo said...

The man's whole family lived off his celebrity. I don't know a Jackson besides Janet that has their own thing. All these people that have lived off him I wonder what will they do now?

Max Reddick said...

You are so right. Yeah, they are probably panicking even as I type this.

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