On Thursday at around 2pm I called my sister and she asked me “did you hear about Michael Jackson? He just died.” In that moment, I didn’t really digest the information, because it didn’t feel real to me. I almost forgot about it over the next few hours. When I got home, I flipped on the evening news and saw images of Michael’s childhood, musical montages with his greatest hits as the soundtrack and excerpts from interviews he had done in the last forty years. It then hit me, he was really gone.
Over, the last three days the coverage of this tragedy has saddened and at times disturbed me. The majority television specials about Michael Jackson have been focused on the sexual misconduct allegations against him and his increasingly eccentric behavior over the last few years. While the media, from Barbara Walters to that blonde woman on Access Hollywood, claim to be hurt and affected by the loss, they remain comfortable picking away at Michael Jackson’s life without any concern for his children or family. In some ways, the media has acted exactly as we expected them to – petty and opportunistically, using his death to increase their ratings.
However, while much of the media coverage of Michael Jackson’s life and death has focused on the negative, I feel that the masses, both here in the United States and abroad are genuinely saddened by his sudden and tragic death and are paying homage to him in their own way. It feels like every store and restaurant I have walked by or entered in the last few days has been playing his greatest hits, and there are many who have been blasting their car radios in tribute as well. This reaction has been surprising and refreshing – with people showing genuine appreciation for Michael Jackson – the talented artist, writer, producer and choreographer.
I think that all of us are surprised at how we feel at the loss of someone who we might not have consciously considered important in our lives. Yet, Michael Jackson cast a wide net inspiring artists everywhere with the rare talent he brought to the stage.