The long-winded but extra-smart Sharon Asytyk ruminates on the meaning of Michael Jackson's death:
Michael Jackson is not Michael Jackson the pop star, or Michael
Jackson the boy from the silly Jackson Five, or Michael Jackson the
child abuser – he’s simply an empty space of fame into which we can
pour our need for saints and stories of redemption.
And of course, we have an endless sack of grief to call upon. We
are, of course, not permitted to mourn dramatically for things actually
worth grieving over – it is either normal or trivial that we cannot
safely fish in the water, that small frogs that I once captured and
released no longer exist, that we face a world of declining resources
and a great deal of conflict over those resources. We are not
permitted to grieve extravagantly or get maudlin over the fact that we
pass on less to our children in every generation, or that we have a
much less secure future than we once did. Instead, our grief is channeled into spectacles, into the iconic representation of all that
is trivial about a generation – as the media prepared to run
all Jackson, all the time, the front piece of yesterdays MSM page
included the quote “New book says Jackie Kennedy may have had
Torrid Affair with RFK.” Gee, that’s relevant – let’s also bring up
the trivial losses of a previous generation, into which they could pour
all their fantasies.
Anything so that we don’t have to think about the world as it
actually is. Anything to wipe the death of all green shoots off the
page. Anything to harken back to less important questions than whether
your kids have a future, how hot the planet will get, how poor you will
be. Anything to give us outlet for our emotions so that they may be
expelled pointlessly on things that do not matter. Anything to let us
feel passion for things that are totally harmless, conveniently
distracting, and, bluntly, make us dumber just for being near them.
Weep now. Stop all the clocks. He is dead. He was not
our North, our South, our East or West, but he’ll do in place of actual
content, meaning or a moral compass. After all, a great many things
worth grieving over are truly dead, and we never even wept for them.
Unlike Sharon, I actually liked a good deal of Michael Jackson's music, but I can only agree with her that the mourning over his death (quite possibly due to prescription drug abuse) shows how pathetically confused we as a nation are about what matters for our future, and for our children's.