Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Morning mourning: a couple more notes on Michael Jackson

Posted By on 07.01.09 at 11:56 AM

click to enlarge vigil.jpg

1. Oh, right:

But there's no question that in spite of a four-year absence from record stores, Michael Jackson knows how to reenter the public consciousness with a vengeance. This time he did it with a video ["Black or White"] whose last four minutes show him dancing, smashing the windows of a car, tossing a garbage can through a storefront, and simulating masturbation — a video he almost immediately withdrew and reedited. The hubbub got intensive media coverage at a time when Jackson's career can use it, but it also raised questions for the industry and for his fans. Entertainment Weekly, 11/91

Thus my adolescence was basically bookended by Jackson sibling television controversies: Michael breaking things and grabbing his crotch, which "raised questions for the industry and his fans" (questions which I had totally forgotten about), and Janet revealing most of a breast during the Super Bowl, which theoretically did the same. I will leave it to smarter people to decide whether that's Progress. Since I will recall both incidents for their profound silliness, I would vote "no."

2. Miles Raymer filed a dispatch from the Michael Jackson vigil in Gary, Indiana (Jessica Hopper did the same for the Village Voice). It's a good piece, but what really broke me up about it was his picture. Stuffed animals as an act of witness - particularly common at roadside vigils - break my heart in ways that no other forms of mourning do. Since the life and death of Michael Jackson involved something beyond arrested development - more like the attempt to fabricate a childhood that never existed and fix it in place - it's only more so.

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