It's fascinating to follow the coverage of Michael Jackson's death, but especially the lavish tributes to his "genius" and general wonderfulness. He was, in fact, a monster, and an apt reflection of America's extreme collective cultural confusion. He was a distillation of the lies America tells itself. He was infantile, grandiose, horrifying, and probably dangerous. His "accomplishments" as a grown man amounted to little more than a half dozen popular songs. The arc of his life may have been tragic, but it was a tragedy of his own making. His sudden end brings to mind a remark Gore Vidal made upon hearing about the death of Truman Capote: "Good career move."
Today's quote of the week (which seems to have disappeared from his website overnight) was taken from James Howard Kunstler's blog site, Clusterfuck Nation. I found Kunstler's take on Michael Jackson's death refreshing; to read of Jackson as national icon portrayed in a light other than "the most looming, dominant figure in 20th century pop music." (in the words of USC associate professor Josh Kun, pop-music expert.)
I have chosen to post this because often the person we eulogize with accolades of hyperbole in death is irreconcilable with that person in life.
Reading, seeing, hearing Jackson's media praises have had me flashing back to the overly gentle and kind memories of Richard Nixon, who in death was dizzyingly transformed into one of our truly dominant presidential figures of the 20th Century.
Of course, Michael Jackson was far bigger than Nixon. Or was he?
If you enjoyed Kunstler's quote, he furthers his analogy of Jackson as metaphor for the sorry state of the nation in this week's "The Man in the Mirror" blog. However, if you find Kunstler's quote of the week disturbing, you should eschew his blog. It will likely really piss you off!