Living Lessons Blog

Just another weblog

Human Nature Now Has a Human Face: Michael Jackson’s U.S. Memorial

July 2, 2009: After a week of watching CNN and MSNBC, and NBC — mainstream media — I am completely disgusted with the coverage. I write a wild, impassioned rant to an email group I’m part of. I am so angry that I email  Anderson Cooper and ask him to look in the mirror, and change the man in the mirror, because by this point Cooper is pushing hard on the drugs and money angles of the story as the only angles worth focusing on. Even going so far as to send Dr. Sanjay Gupta to the door of a former treating physician of  Jackson’s who a decade ago, it has been verified, administered Diprivan to Michael Jackson in a non-hospital, non-specific surgical procedure setting. Dr. Gupta looked extremely uncomfortable in this new role, and I felt embarassed for him.

July 3rd: I turned on the news and there it was again — wild speculation about who would get custody of Michael Jackson’s children and control of his estate, even after a will had been found. And then I saw IT, I saw the beast so clearly.

I went to my email group and ranted. They listened, they’ve been replying all along to the thread I started about Michael Jackson’s life and death in our group’s exchange. One response was that  my thread shone a bright light onto the street gossip: “Only in America can a black man turn into a white woman.”  Several responses had that tone, you know, that ‘he got what he deserved and what his money would buy’ tone, that ‘he was nothing but a fubar junkie’  tone.

This reply in particular pushed me into a deeper truth masked by such wise-ass snarking to another layer waiting to reveal itself. Only in America would a black man ( black men being the most imperiled adult human beings in America on the planet) need to become a submissive white woman (statistically, white woman are the safest people in the world when it comes to survival issues like clean water, adequate food, and medical care) in order to feel safe. Feeling safe seemed to be Michael Jackson’s number one need in life, more than the money and the fame, or maybe because of the money and the fame.

More and more dominoes fell into place, waking me up inside the feeding frenzy trance produced by the white lens of mainstream media coverage. There is no kinder, gentler way to say this.

White mainstream media’s craving to determine who gets the money and who owns the children completely objectified  and dehumanized Michael Jackson and his three children. To be fair, the same thing was done with Anna Nicole Smith. But there was no effort to stray from the easily regurgitated old media talking points about Michael, The Child Molester, no juice from forging new ground into a more unbiased inquiry into who the man might really be and certainly that would mean there would be less writing to do.  Then Rev. Al Sharpton, speaking truth to power once again, chastised Anderson Cooper for lack of balance in his coverage of  Michael Jackson’s life storyon CNN when the Wonder Boy hadn’t yet been laid to rest.

Already angry beyond containment, I emailed Anderson Cooper challenging him to some in depth reporting on Michael Jackson’s humanitarian efforts, his philanthropy around the world. You know, who, what, where, when, why and with what result. Journalism 101. Which has nothing whatever to do with the white media storytelling lens of who’s in control and who owns what. Cover details about giving money away, about Jackson being the most philanthropic celebrity ever? Who would want to know that side of  Michael Jackson when we can keep on dishing speculation and dirt? I even went so far as to suggest perhaps Anderson Cooper needed Soledad O’Brien’s help gaining a bit more perspective and finding another lens through which Michael Jackson’s story could be told.

I’m sure Anderson Cooper was deluged with thousands of emails just ike mine.  The deformity in his coverage was so blatant, so twisted, so taking for granted that this is the only way to tell Michael Jackson’s story. Who cares about the truth? Or about Michael Jackson the man?

I had to take a time out. Sunday I fasted from the media toxicity and rejoiced in Michael’s music and his talent. Monday, I did the same, although I did continue to tune into Larry King Live, and Larry King’s tour of Neverland. Just shy of being patronizing, Larry King seemed genuinely surprised that a flamboyant-just-this-side-of-drag-queen-besequined pop star could have created  so beautiful, tranquil and understated an estate. By Tuesday morning, Anderson’s edge had softened and sitting there was Soledad O’Brian, fulfilling my vision of how news coverage could be transformed once such a decision was consciously made.

Larry King was similarly surprised by the elegance and good taste of Michael Jackson’s public memorial service in Los Angeles on Tuesday, the 8th of July.

July 8, 2009: It was as beautiful a memorial service as the core of brilliance which made Michael Jackson who he was to many of us — so far ahead of us, now forever. One by one, the people who knew, loved, respected, admired, mentored, and cherished Michael Jackson succeeded in humanizing him for those who preferred believing the worst, warming the chill of  the dark side of their human nature in the spotlights aimed straight at the “mess,” to quote Rev. Al Sharpton. Rev. Sharpton succeeded, once again, in coming up with a potent, brutally truthful one -iner. “There was nothing strange about your daddy. The stuff your daddy had to deal with was strange.” Amen.

A particularly poignant moment? Usher’s delicate, loving and soulful lullabye “Gone Too Soon” and the loving touch, the hand on the coffin. (Anderson Cooper asked Larry King if he knew what the coffin was made of because it looked expensive.) The most surprising moment?  John Mayer up there squeezing Human Nature out of his guitar, having had the good sense to leave the vocals an empty space. I imagined Michael Jackson listening to Mayer’s work at home on his stereo system and digging it. The sweetest moment? Brooke Shields remembering her dear, funny friend. The funniest moment? Magic Johnson being blown away by Michael Jackson eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. The most strident and political moment? The poke at Michael’s detractors from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and the King children laying out a refresher course in Michael Jackson’s importance in the scheme of changing the social landscape of the country, paving the way for Obama’s election with unifying messages like Black or White.

And there it was, the antidote to the toxicity of the endlessly spewing media Beast, Black American Culture unspoken testimony at the conclusion of the memorial service.  “He’s ours, now. Leave him be. We always accepted him. Gay, black, white, confused, lonely, eccentric because you forced him into the white American trap. We all know it, and you know it. He’s free now. You can’t hurt him, or twist him into something he’s not so hard he had to find a self-destructive way to ease the pain. He’s ours, always was; we see him, always did. You made him into your creature, but he was Wonder Boy who walked on the Moon, defying gravity and your determination to destroy him for forty years.”

The most tender moment? Of course Paris’s tearful affirmation of how wonderful her daddy was and how very much she loves him.

I’m posting the group email exchange which unfolded over these last two weeks up on my web site:

and will shop this post, my first post on Wonder Body, and the group email exchange as an article in its own right. It’s worth doing if we’re going to stand up strong in Michael’s challenge to start looking in the mirror and making that change.

July 12, 2009. Now Michael’s dermatologist and friend is spilling an awful lot of beanstalk beans. Do your HIPPA rights go out the window after you die?

July 14, 2009: Latoya Jackson may be making some dough on the Who Done What  To Who aspects of the undetermined cause of death. She’s Joseph Jackson’s child if she got two cents for that story. Rumor has it Joe Jackson is already scheming on how to “promote” Prince, Paris, and Blanket. Which is why he was left out of the will. Some folks can’t take a hint. None of this has been substantiated as fact, so the emotional manipulation of the American public continues at a slow, steady burn. Still good for ratings and ad copy.

Michael, now that you’re gone, your humanity shines back to with gorgeous, generous, innocent, greedy ferocity. At least to me. Thank you.

No comments yet»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: