By David J. Rothkopf
Two men were overheard chatting at a Cosi restaurant in DC this weekend. One said, "You know, with the death of Ed McMahon, Farrah, and Michael Jackson, I think the 70s also died. They're over with once and for all." The other guy said, without hesitation, "I'd believe that if Jimmy Carter weren't still president."
Hey, don't shoot the messenger. I just overheard the conversation. (Please read on for my rather different view.)
Personally, I found the obsessive retrospectives about Michael Jackson a little disgusting. His commercial success for a few years as a pop singer seemed to trump the dark and unsavory aspects of his life. But he was no hero. He was certainly no one to be celebrating. Unless of course, you were an ayatollah. Because one of the truly transcendental ironies of recent history has to be the fact that a symbol of the worst sort of Western spiritual and social corruption...celebrity worship, drug culture, financial excess, debauchery...ended up providing just the distraction that the keepers of the Islamic Revolution's flame in Tehran needed to direct the world's attention away from their abuses of their own people.In an instant, the really important story of tens of millions struggling to be heard in Iran was swept off the air by the death of a 50 year old accused pedophile in America. CNN, which had been congratulating itself daily for bringing the "green revolution" in Iran to the world as only it could in an instant tossed its news judgment out the window and started offering 24/7 retrospectives on how Michael Jackson chose the red leather jacket he wore in the "Thriller" video.
It was an appalling, cheap and cynical programming choice made worse by the fact that other major stories...from the Congress passing the landmark Waxman-Markey climate legislation to the coup in Honduras...were left to play the role only of journalistic spackle, filling in the cracks between paeans to a man who spent the last twenty years shocking the world with his unhinged depravity.
The sad reality is that none of the celebrities who died in the past week say much good about American culture or the state of hero worship in America.
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I know this may seem wanktastic But I do think it's funny how so many people (not here) are soooo emotional distraught over Jackson. While I do feel terrible about such a iconic figure passing, it was still sad seeing people's images of Green and Neda so quickly disappear for a popstar that some probably took part in bringing down/mocking.