Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why Are All Those People Crying?

This post has been rattling around in my head since yesterday; however, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must reveal that my blogami, Mark, also addressed this topic in a post, The Death of Strangers, that I read before writing my own. Any plagiarism on my part is totally unintended. BTW, Mark's post includes a really great piece of photoart.

I've watched a lot of television in the last two days. I've felt a little sorry for Farrah Fawcett. She had the misfortune to die on the same day as Michael Jackson. Farrah was a star but MJ was a superstar, a cultural icon, a bit tarnished, but nonetheless, a shining star. MJ has excited the sort of tear-streaming, "I can't believe he's gone," drama that followed Princess Diana's untimely demise.

Good and grown men and women are holding vigils, mourning the death of Michael Jackson. I don't get it. There is something overdone and fake about it all. A lot of crocodile tears, offered more for the display of grief than any real feelings of mourning. I take it back; maybe Farrah was the lucky one, her family and friends allowed a bit more privacy as MJ's fans make a display of expressions of grief.

I grew up listening to MJ and his brothers. I was far more into the Jackson Five than I was into the Beatles. They were young black boys with cool clothes, big afros, and a soulful sound ; and they made a young black girl growing up in a southern town believe that there was a world for her outside of her own backyard. I suspect that I wasn't alone in feeling that the five brothers from Indiana spoke to me of hope and opportunity. I sang along with their songs and tried to copy their dance steps. When Michael went solo, I continued to be a fan. I still sing along with the radio, Billie Jean was not my lover, she's just a girl who says that I am the one, but the kid is not my son. Every time that I hear Beat It I start shaking my hips and tapping my feet. I cry over She's Out of My Life..

Of course, I am saddened by Michael's death, but I'm not in mourning. I'm saddened because his death reminds me of my own mortality. I'm saddened because he was a young man, who died early. I'm saddened because he struck me as a troubled person, who in spite of his success and fame, never found any lasting happiness. I think that he was a musical genius and I am saddened to see his creative force extinguished.

However, I just can't join the teary-eyed masses who engage in wailing and gnashing of teeth as if they've lost a family member. I confess that I am fascinated by this outpouring of what I dub pseudo-grief. I empathize with the Jackson family; I can imagine how overwhelmed they must feel, especially as total strangers try to claim the family's private grief as their own. Michael Jackson has left a legacy of music and memories that belongs to the ages, but the enormous sorrow of his passing is the rightful property of those who knew him and loved him as a person, not as an icon.


Joy said...

Good post! I agree with you and can understand what the Jackson Five meant to you. I was a Beatles fan and was hit hard with John Lennon's death. Somehow when it's murder like that, it's harder to deal with. MJ made a huge contribution to pop music. Your last sentence sums it up eloquently and sincerely.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Well said.

Where have all of these people been for the past 10 years.

Beth said...

I agreed with Mark's sentiments on this one, and of course, agree with yours. I think the only celebrity I've ever felt like I really mourned for upon their death was Johnny Cash, and that was as much for his hard life (and peace at last) as for what his music meant to me. Even then, I refrained from wailing or sobbing, and I don't really get why some people do that. I reserve my copious tears for those who were an actual part of my life.

I also am saddened for Jackson's family, and the guy really seemed to have a tortured life that was cut tragically short. But I'm not in mourning, and the TV has stayed off.

Miss Ginger Grant said...

I remember as a child watching young girls screaming and crying and making fools of themselves. I would ask my momma "why are they crying?" and she never could explain it!
I'm a big ole baby when it comes to people dying, but I have to say just "seeing" a star doesn't bring me to tears.
I totally get that he was a trailblazer of the video generation, but he was just a troubled soul with problems, like so many others in the world who will not be publicly mourned. He led a sad life and I feel sorrier for his life than for his death. He's probably at piece for the first time in his young life!

Tara said...

I loved to listen to MJ but more in the 80's as a teenager than now as an adult. Yes, I still remember every song and they usually evoke a memory.

However, like you I am not wailing and carrying on about his death. We all die in the end and sadly,Michael went before the rest of us.

It does seem as if Farrah's passing is lost among the glittering tributes and the daily breakdown of his trouble, odd behavior and court appearances.

Ultimately, he was merely a celebrity and certainly not someone I knew daily. But,he was a father, a son and a brother and people really need to respect that aspect of him and let his family mourn in peace.

Like your opinions!


Yasmin said...

I too have remained dry eyed although saddened by his death, his music will live on, like you I was always much more into the Jackson 5, we have been innundated with TV programmes celebrating his life in music and subsequent scandals, one would hope that people will leave the family alone to deal with their loss but somehow I doubt it.

Good post


Sybil said...

As Always a great write up. My sentiments exactly. It never ceases to amaze me this out bursting of grief for someone you don't real "know"
All I can say is in peace had a hard and sad life and can only now be truly at peace with yourself...
LOve Sybil xx

warrior scout said...

for me, it has been odd. mj, madonna, and i were all born in the same month, same year. queerly, i have always kind of used them as a litmus on my own life. so mj's last 10 years of that carnival of horrors, coupled with his obsession to change his physicality led me to believe he was desperately miserable. i couldn't envy anyone for trying to medicate themselves out of that misery. i don't believe his avenue of relief is a healthy one, but i certainly believe it worked for a long time. it is sad. but i find solice in his release of suffering..

Sarcastic Bastard said...

That was very well-stated. And thanks for popping over to my blog. I know you are very busy. I hope you get some downtime over the coming holiday weekend.

Wishing you well and lots of love,


Alan said...

MJ was the singer I grew up loving to hate. I knew (still know and sing along with) most of his songs, but it wasn't cool for an edgy gothic/punk to like MJ. His death is a loss and should be noted by our society, but the "news" still seems to be consumed by it. I watch CNN at about 5am. (the only time I have to catch much of the television news) and I haven't seen anything else get this much press. It's crazy.

Mark said...

Here, here, obviously.

Alan said...

So, here it is, July 12th and MJ is still the only thing on CNN when ever I turn it on. I'm not saying CNN is the most balanced news source in the world, but it is the best available in the backwater I live in. So, enough all ready. WTF isn't there any other news?