Wasn’t a Michael Jackson fan (though one lad in my primary school was a huge fan – this would’ve been the time, I guess, of the “Bad” album and tour). And clearly he had what’s being referred to by everyone as a troubled life, which kinda overshadowed his musical gifts.
So I haven’t got a huge amount to say about it. But, perhaps predictably, a large number of people on the Guardian website are criticising (to put it mildly) the decision to make this front page news and give so much emphasis to Jackson’s death. I guess, in the grand scheme of things, the death of one man, even one incredibly talented and famous man such as Jackson, isn’t as huge as, say, the elections in Iran. But I think this is news – and big news. Partly because of his fame: Jackson was hugely famous and, in an era of production line, manufactured bands, justly so. He wasn’t just another celebrity and the massive rush to buy tickets for his O2 gigs were surely proof of that. People were genuinely shocked by his death: I was when I heard it on the news this morning, and I’m not a fan. Also because of the shock: his health was in question, but nobody expected him to actually die. And when someone as famous as Jackson dies as suddenly as he did, sorry, but that is news.
And, for crying out loud (sorry, getting into rant mode), the Guardian is excellent at avoiding the celebrity culture (despite the 6 pages on Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in G2 the other day – hmmm…) and has given good coverage to the Iran election. So to accuse it of bowing to celebrity is a little unfair, I think. As I’ve said above, he wasn’t just A. N. Other celebrity and his death is “bigger” than, say Jade Goody’s (sad as that was).
Finally, Jackson’s death will move off the front pages soon enough, at least in the quality press. This is as it should be. Iran will (I hope, ‘cos there’s definitely something going on there) be back up tops soon enough and this is how it should be. But it is really going to hurt anyone for one day, or 2 at the most, to give this the attention it deserves? A few people have, rather patronisingly, suggested he “only” entertained people. Sorry, but that’s a huge skill and gift and should be recognised as such. No, he didn’t have anything particularly political to say: but why does that make him any worse than someone who did? To entertain and brighten people’s lives up on the scale that Jackson did isn’t something to be sneered at: it’s a huge gift and talent and we should treasure those who have it.
Finally, finally, it’s worth seeing if you can find a copy of the recording he did with Freddie Mercury in the early 1980s. It was never released, and I believe Jackson at point denied it even existed, but their voices together were a beautiful sound. If I come across it anywhere, I’ll post it here.
And I said I didn’t have much to say about it…