Friday, June 26, 2009

On Michael Jackson's death

I was trying to wait for tonight to do this, but when you're moved, you're moved:

There is something very strange happening right now. It may be the first time in my life that it is happening.

The world is mourning.

In my office I'm largely insulated, but going online you can the emotion in a thousand places, people hearts being pulled and torn. You can feel pain through a computer monitor.

I heard last night while driving to see Kathy Griffin. My reaction to the news that he was hospitalized was a huge gasp. When the story was updated and TMZ, all of places, broke the story, I felt muted on a very deep level. It was tough to fully appreciate it then, though, as we were on the road. At the concern, Kathy made a quick topical joke about Michael's death being perpetrated.... by her, and it was sort of funny, but also too soon. She moved on quickly.

We got home at 11:30 and went right to sleep. It wasn't until this morning when I started talking to people and checking websites, and I started to feel very, very sad. The NY Times ran stories about global remembrances, but I think a better gauge of his impact came from CNN about how his death practically crashed the internet.

What does larger than life mean? To me, it means that the person's legend extends to the point where the person is almost lost inside it. They became a caricature, a symbol of themselves. They become timeless - their fame is so large that you never expect anything to happen to the person itself, which is left far behind the hurricane-type force of their celebrity.

So when I heard that he died, I was shocked, because it didn't seem possible for him to die. This sounds silly, and yet fame works this way. Fame makes immortals, and gods can't die. It hurts inside a little, thinking how much one person gave to the world of music, of pop culture, and to you.

Last night people on the radio said - "I'll always know where I was when I heard Michael Jackson passed away," and I thought they were silly.

Today, when I hear people talk about how much he meant to them, when I read eulogies on Youtube or pronouncements by Nelson Mandela, I get chills. It occurred to me that it's as if humanity was wounded, and is bleeding out emotion all over the world. In a very real way, the world is grieving and struggling to understand. It hits me hard that something singular has happened. Maybe this is what an end of an era feels like, like when John Lennon or Elvis died. Did it feel like this?


Zeyev said...

If you're asking ME how *I* felt, then I have to tell you that both Elvis and MJ were largely irrelevant in my life by the time they died. Both had made enormous contributions in their industry when they were younger. Both had become caricatures - unfortunately.

But Lennon was murdered at a time when he was still active. Not with the Beatles but with social issues and the like.

All deaths are tragedies in their own way but - for me - most celebrities are *merely* celebrities, regardless of their talent. And I note their passing no differently than other people I have heard of but don't know.

Many people established - from their own perspective - a personal relationship with these stars. Not my thing.

Does that answer your question?

Jonathan Rubin said...

Thanks, Warren. Appreciate the perspective....

Anonymous said...

the world did knot deserve M J he gave all he had to the world everything even his soul just for his fans , friends and family and he welcomed everyone to his home his ranch and all they did was try to find a way to take it from him , look they even blamed him for doing bad things to children even his own ! his wife's didn't believe him. trust in him he was in need of financial help and no body came to help ! he was the biggest Donner to aids and many other things even married Elvis daughter and she didn't help him ether and i guess he just could not take it anymore ! and so our lord took him to a better place were he is appreciated ! look you don't know what you had until it is gone! i will miss MICHAEL JACKSON HE IS A TRUE PERSON OF GOD!